On March 3, 2014, Rick Ross released the sixth album of his career, Mastermind. At this point, Rick Ross has established himself as one of the more consistent rappers, scoring four number one albums, one number two album (Teflon Don missed no. 1), and five gold-certified albums. Six albums in, an examination of where Ross’ five albums rank seems appropriate. Let’s go!
Port of Miami
Personally, I found Rick Ross’ debut album left plenty to be desired. The state of an artist’s debut album sometimes can be underwhelming, given artistic inexperience. I believe Ross’ limited abilities initially were a hindrance that affected the quality of Port of Miami. Nothing lived up to the exceptional single “Hustlin’”, which is ultimately why I didn’t find consider myself a fan of Ross initially. Sure, tracks like “Push It” or “Cross That Line” weren’t bad, but they also weren’t enough to make Port of Miami a truly special effort or memorable rap debut. It would take that artistic maturation to establish Rick Ross.
Trilla represented the first taste of Rick Ross truly elevating his game. It wouldn’t be quite the leap that an underrated Deeper Than Rap was, but there was clearly more substance behind the rapper’s second no. 1 album compared to the first. Port of Miami was an introduction, but it didn’t really show Ross’ range, only his potential on “Hustlin’”. Trilla has more ‘weapons’, like the first installment of “Maybach Music” (featuring Jay-Z), “The Boss”, “Luxury Tax” (featuring Trick Daddy, Young Jeezy & Lil Wayne), and “Here I Am”. Don’t call it a masterpiece (it’s not), but was a step in the right direction for Rick Ross.
Deeper Than Rap
I consider Deeper Than Rap Rick Ross’ transitional album; here, the MC truly molded and crafted his artistry. Trilla found him truly close to taking the ascent, but was couple of steps shy of its mark. Deeper Than Rap found Ross truly accepting his identity and artistry, owning luxurious productions like the John Legend assisted “Magnificent” or eating up the naughty Trina assisted “Face.” Additionally, cuts like the opening “Mafia Music” show off Ross’ expanded abilities as a rapper, while “Maybach Music 2” continues a good thing from his previous album, this time featuring T-Pain, Lil Wayne, and Kanye West. Whether it’s “Yacht Club” or “Rich Off Cocaine”, Deeper Than Rap offered plenty of enjoyable listening options.
Rick Ross’ sixth studio album, Mastermind, falls somewhere in the middle his discography. It is an enjoyable album through and through, but falls slightly short of the magic of the Grammy-nominated God Forgives, I Don’t and Ross’ best album, Teflon Don. There’s no “Maybach Music” this time, but there is “Mafia Music III” which gets a killer reggae production, “The Devil Is A Lie” which pairs Rozay with Jay-Z once more, and “War Ready”, a killer collaboration with Young Jeezy. If that’s not enough, Ross informs the listener of a “Drug Dealers Dream” (“Niggas vision the clearest, I get shooters on clearance…”), “BLK & WHT” (“Young nigga black, but he selling white”) and makes us “Sanctified”. Ultimately, it’s another sound RR album with some highlights.
God Forgives, I Don’t
Rick Ross had tough shoes to fill following Teflon Don. Even though it was difficult, Rick Ross did well for himself with God Forgives, I Don’t, which found the money-obsessed MC continuing to flex and count his stacks. God Forgives proved to be consistent, if a tad less enthralling than Teflon Don. “Pirates” would open the album with a bang, followed by the fantastic “3 Kings” which featured Dr. Dre and Jay-Z. He’d give another installment of “Maybach Music” (“Maybach Music IV”), this time featuring Ne-Yo. There would also be an eight minute juggernaut entitled “Sixteen” featuring André 3000, not to mention the exceptional Pharrell Williams produced “Presidential”, featuring vocals courtesy of Elijah Blake. It was no Teflon Don #2, but it was another welcome addition to Ross’ discography.
Even following Mastermind and his previous album God Forgives, I Don’t, Teflon Don, Ross’ fourth studio album, is his very best. Here, Ross and producers got the right mix and assemble and album that plays to his strengths. Things get off to a fast start with “I’m Not A Star” before the soulful “Free Mason” steals the show (with help from Jay-Z and John Legend). Cee-Lo Green lends his recognizable pipes on the thoughtful “Tears of Joy”, one of the more beautiful rap tracks one will ever hear. “Maybach Music III” may be the best installment of the series, featuring the pipes of Erykah Badu and enlisting the rhymes of T.I. and Jadakiss. There there’s supreme rap luxury on “Super High”, a pairing with R&B singer Ne-Yo preceding GFID’s meeting between the two. Kanye West isn’t left out of the mix on “Live Fast, Die Young”, yet another top-notch showing. You could even continue on with club banger “B.M.F. (Blowin’ Money Fast)” or “Aston Martin Music”. Where cohesiveness is concerned, Teflon Don is by far the brightest spot in Ross’ collection.