Crack-Era Drug Kingpin 'Freeway' Rick Ross Talks Emmy Nomination

By Seth Ferranti 08/16/16

The Emmy-nominated documentary Freeway: Crack in the System chronicles the life of the most prolific Reagan-era crack cocaine dealer in Los Angeles. 

Crack-Era Drug Kingpin 'Freeway' Rick Ross Talks Emmy Nomination
"Freeway" Rick Ross PhotoMovieClips/YouTube

Freeway: Crack in the System, a documentary about the life of cocaine baron and unwitting CIA pawn Freeway Rick Ross, was nominated for an Emmy back in July. The film, produced by filmmaker Marc Levin who also documented the life of infamous Harlem drug dealer Nicky Barnes in Mr. Untouchable, is up for an Emmy in the Outstanding Investigative Journalism: Long Form category. The nomination is a celebration of sorts for Ross, who’s been doing all he can since his release from prison to make amends to society for his drug-dealing exploits of the 1980s.

“It was like a dream come true,” Ross tells The Fix about the nomination of the film that profiled his life story, which has become synonymous with crack cocaine. “I knew my story had that kind of magnitude, I always knew that. But for it to actually happen, it let me know that the way I thought was correct.” The former drug dealer, who has turned into a community activist and self-styled “Mayor of the Ghetto,” was released from prison in 2009 after serving 13 years of a life sentence that he got reduced to 20 years battling in the courts. The crack amendments in the late aughts put him out, and he has been working with kids and traveling the country ever since.

“I believe that the overall message that the film tells, and what I try to tell kids everyday, is that no matter where you are at in life, you can always bounce back,” Ross tells The Fix. Ross knows the perils of courting infamy firsthand, and has even had his brushes with the law since his release. But through it all, he has maintained a positive message—a message that the documentary imparts as well.

“So many messages,” Ross tells The Fix. “The importance of reading, of going to school, why not to get involved in drugs. When I first met Marc Levin and he showed me some of his work, I thought he could deliver the message I wanted to deliver.” And obviously, that message of redemption has been felt, evidenced by the Emmy nomination.

To learn more about Freeway Rick Ross check out his website here and check out the trailer for the documentary below:

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After landing on the US Marshals Top-15 Most Wanted list and being sentenced to a 25 year sentence in federal prison for a first-time, nonviolent LSD offense, Seth built a writing and journalism career from his cell block. His raw portrayals of prison life and crack era gangsters graced the pages of Don DivaHoopshype and VICE. From prison he established Gorilla Convict, a true-crime publisher and website that documents the stories that the mainstream media can’t get with books like Prison Stories and Street Legends. His story has been covered by The Washington PostThe Washington Times, and Rolling Stone.

Since his release in 2015 he’s worked hard to launch GR1ND Studios, where true crime and comics clash. GR1ND Studios is bringing variety to the comic shelf by way of the American underground. These groundbreaking graphic novels tell the true story of prohibition-era mobsters, inner-city drug lords, and suburban drug dealers. Seth is currently working out of St. Louis, Missouri, writing for The FixVICEOZY, Daily Beast, and Penthouse and moving into the world of film. Check out his first short, Easter Bunny Assassin at You can find Seth on Linkedin or follow him on Twitter.