BY MELISSA RUGGIERI
It’s time for Rick Ross to be the boss again.
The hip-hop mogul is teaming with Dina Marto, owner of Atlanta’s Twelve Studios, to open a branch of his Maybach Music Group here and create the Artists First organization, a platform the pair hopes to use as a link among songwriters, artists and producers.
Sitting in a mixing room inside of Twelve Studios on Monday in his fur-collared black jacket and fuzzy beard, the rapper-businessman said he’s always found Atlanta to be one of, “if not THE most artistic and creative place to make music…It is one of those spots where you can call a studio and make a record and the streets would react to it.”
Ross and Marto’s relationship extends to 2006, when she worked for Def Jam Records, which Ross recorded for at the time.
Ross said since he’s “a person based on family, on loyalty,” working with Marto was an easy decision. “You’ve got to be able to stand on your own two feet,” he said of Marto’s tenacity. “This game isn’t built on sympathy.”
Marto, meanwhile, who received a proclamation by Atlanta city councilman Kwanza Hall on Monday “in recognition of one of the music industry’s rising entrepreneurs,” is enthused to be working so closely with Ross, referring to him as “not only an amazing artist, but an amazing person.”
Ross, who is in the process of remodeling Evander Holyfield’s mansion in Fayetteville, maintains strong ties to his hometown of Miami, where his Maybach Music Group record label is based. But he sounds determined to make a difference in the Atlanta music scene, even acknowledging that the L.A. Reid-Babyface musical explosion in Atlanta the ‘90s is the premiere blueprint for Artists First.
A talent search will soon be launched to discover the next Maybach Music Group artist. Details are still being sketched out, but Ross wants to go city to city to seek talent and will possibly have the finalists compete at his Atlanta home.
“It’s a new vibe,” Ross said, smiling under his black-rimmed baseball cap.