South Philly's Amber Rose rides the rising tide of hip-hop fame

Amber Rose says of her ex, rapper Kanye West (right): "That's just, like, so my past . . . I haven't spoke about our relationship since we broke up."
Amber Rose says of her ex, rapper Kanye West (right): "That's just, like, so my past . . . I haven't spoke about our relationship since we broke up." (ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Posted: January 18, 2012

HATERS MAY knock Amber Rose, pointing out that like her rival Kim Kardashian, she's known for nothing more than being gorgeous and dating celebrities.

But they can't deny that the Philly homegirl has managed to achieve the glamorous hip-hop lifestyle that many young women only dream about. She's come a long way from Delilah's Den, where she used to be an exotic dancer named Paris.

Last week, the 28-year-old model released her first single, "Fame," which includes a verse by her current love interest, rapper Wiz Khalifa. She's also the face of two new vodka flavors by Smirnoff and has a design deal with Members Only.

And, yes, she says she's over Kanye West, who she famously dated until Kardashian began texting and sending him pictures.

That drama blew up all over again after Rose called Kardashian a "homewrecker" in an interview in the Jan. 16 edition of Star magazine. Rose has since apologized for the jab, as she explained when I caught up with her last week outside Wired radio's City Avenue offices.

"I didn't take back the story, I just apologized for calling her a name," Rose said as we chatted on board her bus. "I'm all about women empowerment. I was in the moment. It's just me. That's what I teach my Rosebuds and Rose Studs on Twitter, the young people that look up to me. That if you make a mistake, it's all right to apologize for it. It doesn't make you a punk. It doesn't mean that you're scared of someone. It's being the bigger person. It's just taking the high road in every situation. You always end up on top."

Q. Are things cool with you and Kardashian now?

A. "I don't know her personally."

Q.It seems like you've moved on. You're in a new relationship with Wiz Khalifa.

A. "Totally."

Q. How's that going?

"We're so in love. We're so happy. We support each other. We inspire each other. He's my soul mate and he's brought so much happiness to my life.

Q. He's your soul mate?

A. "Totally. Absolutely."

Q. How long have you been together now?

A. "We just celebrated our one-year anniversary. Yeah. We've very busy. He's working on his second album. I'm working on my first. I'm also designing for Members Only and I'm collaborating with other designers as far as, like, sunglasses and clothes. We're always, like, kind of in different states . . . He's actually recording his album in L.A. But I'm recording my album in New York."

Q. Do you live together?

A. "We actually live next door to each other. So, we still have our own space right now . . . it's, like, when we first fell in love, he moved out to L.A. and started his life with me. But we didn't want to just move in with each other so fast so he moved next door . . . We both have condos in the same building."

Q. That's fabulous. But you're going to have problems if you break up.

A. "We'll never break up. We don't think about all that negativity."

Q. Tell me about your Members Only deal.

A. "They revamped their whole line and I'm coming out with a collection in fall 2012. It's all women's jackets. It's fur, wool and leather. They still definitely will have the classic jackets . . . they're very much in style now. I'm developing a whole collection for women. It's cut for women so it's more flattering."

Q. Fur? You know PETA [People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals] is going to come after you. What kind of fur is that you have on your head? (I pointed to the Daniel Boone-style cap with a tail hanging alongside her face. She removed the hat and examined the label.)

A. "This is . . . I'll tell you right now. I don't know. It don't think it says it . . . "

Q. Don't worry about it. You are so pretty with your hat or with it off. Tell me about the decision to shave your head.

A. "I was 19 years old. And I always thought Sinead O'Connor was just so beautiful when I was younger. I was just watching videos and stuff and looked at all her videos and I said, 'I'm going to do that.' I went to all of my friends . . . "

Q. And they said no!

A. "They're, like, 'Girl, you'd better not. You're going to look crazy.' I didn't listen to them and I went and I did it and it worked out for me. It's been nine years now."

Q. What barbershop is behind your signature look?

A. "I had one of my friends, my best friend Maurice, take me, so I don't remember exactly where it was . . . I went home and cried after. As a woman, your hair is like everything. I just couldn't believe that I did that. Then I just embraced it. I felt powerful. I felt like I wasn't hiding behind anything."

Q. How do you maintain it?

A. "Every three days I have to cut and dye it, cause my roots come in really fast. I like to be blonde. It's very dark. Very dark brown."

Q. A lot of your fans want to do what you did. What advice do you have for them?

A. "In my case, what happened to me is one in a billion. It doesn't happen for everyone. Honestly, it was God, man. Everything that happened in my life was just a steppingstone in order for me just to be able to do for my family.

"I would just say, if they want to follow their dreams if they want to be famous, I mean, just know that fame comes with a lot of stuff. There's pros and cons to it. That's actually why I made the single, 'Fame.' So people know that you have private jets and you have money, but at the end of the day you have a lot of pressure and lot of things that you have to deal with. You have to deal with scrutiny. You have to deal with the fact that you can't have an argument with anyone. If you say the wrong thing, it's going to be everywhere. Everyone is going to judge you. It's life. Anything you say can and will be used against you."

Q. Ever think of starring in your own reality TV show?

A. "No, I don't want to. I actually tried it [2010's "Running Russell Simmons"] and I actually realized that it was definitely something that I don't want to do. I think it's very invasive. I just don't want cameras in my house following my every move every day."

Q. People will have a fit if I don't ask about Kanye . . .

A. "That's just, like, so my past. I don't even want to talk about him anymore. I haven't spoke about our relationship since we broke up. So, now that I'm finally speaking out, people want to know. But for me it's so old. I'm, like, so past that."

Q. How long ago did you break up?

A. "I've been with Wiz for a year, so it was probably like a year and a half ago."

Q. You grew up in Philly, so I have to ask, Pat's or Geno's?

A. "I would say Philip's on Passyunk. I just love their cheesesteaks. It's really, really good."

Q. Do you still have family in Philly?

A. "I moved my mom out to L.A. with me. So, I finally got her out of Philly, which is awesome. She's been out there for a little over a year now. She loves it. It's sunny every day. She's out. She walks the dogs. Everyone in L.A. is super sweet to her. Our neighborhood is really nice. We're not in the 'hood any more. Yeah, it's cute."

Q. What's it like living with your mother? Mothers are mothers, you know . . .

A. "My mom is really, really cool. She's like my best friend. She'll still say her little motherly things like, 'Don't get any more tattoos, Amber.' But for the most part she doesn't bother me like an average mom would . . . I call her like 50 times a day just to let her know what I'm doing. We're best friends."

Q. Besides the dogs [pugs Pauly and Franky] are there any plans for expanding your family any time soon?

A. "I definitely want to have kids. I definitely want to get married. Me and Wiz both want that. But as of right now, we're just focusing on our businesses and just loving each other. We have time for babies later. We want to like just settle down a little bit. I definitely want to plan [it]. All my friends, everyone that I grew up with, they all have kids. And they all had kids very young. I was always like, I'm going to wait for that special person. And I did and now I'm 28 and I have Wiz and we're going to wait. We're going to do it right. We're going to plan it out. We don't want no accidents."

Q. Speaking of children, what was your own childhood like?

A. "It was fun. I definitely learned a lot growing up in Philly. I don't know, it was difficult at times. I grew up very poor with my mom, she raised me as a single parent and I got picked on a lot. I was kind of like dorky when I was really young. I was a super dork. Totally. Big glasses. Bad hair. I would wear like my cousin's hand-me-down clothes. I really didn't have the fly clothes when I was really young so I got picked on a lot."

Q. Did you ever dream it would come to this? Tell me about your high school experience.

A. "Man, in high school, [Furness] I was just lost, honestly. I really didn't know much about my life or what I was going to do. But I was still doing like a little modeling here and there. I actually did the local news out here like spring fashion, stuff like that. And then I moved to New York and I got into, like, videos and then I became a Ford model after that. I just got up and just left Philadelphia and went to New York. I just saved up my money and moved out there."

Q. Besides modeling, what else did you do?

A. "I was a dancer. At Delilah's. A few years . . . I kind of always felt like there was more to my life but I didn't know what it was. [I felt] destined to be better than what I was at that time."

Q. And now you have released your first single, "Fame." I listened to it to see if you could sing - you can. I guess a lot of people come at you like that.

A. "I prepared myself for the criticism, but I've actually got a lot of positive responses, so I'm excited about that. I'm definitely going to come out with an album. It's in the process. It's still in the beginning stages, but I will come out with more singles."

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