So Rick Ross aka Ricky Rozay has probably surpassed Lil' Wayne as the hottest artist in the rap game. He has consistently put out albums and mix tapes over the past four years to build up a following and secure his position in today's rap hierarchy. Following up on his second group album, Self Made Vol. 2 and heading into an august that will see the release of protege Meek Mill's debut, Ross offers up his latest LP of material, "God Forgives I Don't"
The first song on the album is "Pirates" which showcases Ricks prowess with his flow and the way he can be descriptive at times. Within the bars he references the idea he is the new reincarnation of Biggie, the new big king of the rap game. On "Ashamed" Ross alludes to the idea that while he often talks about the luxuries and life he has acquired due to the dope game, he is still ashamed to brag about it. But he isn't ashamed of what he did to survive per se, it's more of a shame of that being the position he was put in. "Amsterdam" is the last song on the more 'laid-back' portion of the album but there isn't much to this song but the average Ross verses.
The early features in the album include Ne-Yo on "Maybach Music IV" which is sort of a cliched song at this point. This one doesn't have any real unique aspect like the last few have. Ross of course has a great flow and the general Ross is the bawse of the luxury lifestyle is on display on this song. Leaked earlier this week, "3 Kings" features Dr. Dre and Jay-z alongside Rozay and as usual when on a track with other artists, Jay goes in pretty much using the artists own style. Dre could have been left off of the track totally to tell the truth because there is nothing he can add unless it's a release date for Detox. "Sixteen" had a lot of potential as Ross enlists Andre 3000 on a song where they 'violate the rules' by spitting more than 16 bars to be able to express themselves. Andre's verse can be slightly convoluted at times but he does seem to have more of a singular idea behind his verse.
Now starting at this half of the album, a couple of songs change up the feel and tempo. "Hold Me Back" has Ross with a French Montana type hook where he starts each verse with a justification of the hustle then he moves into the progression from that to being successful in the game. "911" is general Ross rap, and could have benefitted from maybe an appearance from Gunplay. "So Sophisticated" is uninspired and even Meek Mill doesn't get as amped as usual. More of the same until it moves into the portion of the album directed at the female fans with "Presidential" which features a singer by the name of Elijah Dukes. Omarion goes ahead and blesses the album with his strained vocals on "Ice Cold". while Usher returns the feature favor on "Touching You" which is set up and mixed so that the vulgarities can be removed easily for the radio. I mean all the required Ross isms are here, he talks about smoking and drops a bunch of designer names within his verse. Wale starts off "Diced Pineapples" with a poem that shows he is still the wordsmith of MMG and he also gets a verse while Drake croons on the hook.
Stalley gets his appearance in on "Ten Jesus Pieces" which has a great backdrop and could have really been a great song but both artists disappoint on this one, Stalley because his verse was way too short and Ross could have done something different but its the same format as every other song. For the best example of this, listen to "Triple Beam Dreams" (what a unique song title) with Nas as he Esco spits about his own off and on pursuits as a d-boy as he covers rationalizing drug sales and his lack of success as being a part time salesman. Then listen to Rozay as he drops the same verse as he has on every other song. The final track is "Rich Forever" with John Legend and I swear has been on every single Ross album.
I understand Rick Ross is all about the flash and luxury but there are times when he can step out of this carefully contructed image to give some depth and he fails to do so. He has a great vocabulary and flow but at times I feel that he does like AZ and uses certain words more for the way they feel in the verse and then doesn't follow them up to lend each verse the appropriate weight. Even when things start out good they manage to top off. I don't see any reason why he can't be as nice as Nas but his verses always ring empty and hollow and more about the look instead of the content of what they actually could mean. When I listen to Ross I want to like him, his flow and charisma are there, but when you listen to an old Biggie album you get a sense of depth that Ross has been unable to duplicate no matter how many times he calls himself Big's reincarnate. If you like Ross, you'll like this album but I still think it might fall short of some fans expectattions. If he ever takes more than ten minutes to write a verse Ross could really be a great rapper, as it is he settles for being popular now and eschewing the chance to be mentioned with the greats. It's his choice but one that wouldn't necessarily reduce his income now if he put forth the extra effort.