When an artist bursts onto the scene proclaiming themselves “the boss”, those are words not to be taken lightly. Perhaps they were before, considering that the man calling himself such, was a new artist with just one hit to his name. Looking back now six years, 5 albums, his own record label and powerful roster later, maybe the Miami bred rapper was just foretelling the future.
On his last solo effort, 2010’s “Teflon Don”, Rick Ross’ richer than life persona was on full display, complete with excellent instrumentals, sharper than ever wordplay and guest features. It was clear Ross finally reached his peak as an artist with a short and sweet 11 tracks that could be played front to back. For his 5th studio effort “God Forgives, I Don’t”, it’s certain that he’s enjoyed the success of his last album. He continues with the formula of big name features and extravagant ear catching instrumentals.
The album opens with “Pirates”; An appropriate opening, that quickly sets the tone for the album when he spits “Dreams of getting cream and never to be extorted/seen so many things be preposterous not to record it”. Surely, one of the tracks everyone is already buzzing about is the Jay-Z and Dr. Dre assisted “3 Kings”. The Jake One produced track opens with Dre being reminiscent of the tough times endured before reaching current success, all while trying to talk us into hearing the beat through his headphones (referring to his hugely successful Dre Beats). Most Jay fans probably by passed Ross’ verse just to get to Jay, but truth is he easily shinned the most which is not saying much since they all brought their level D game. For Jay it’s quite evident he didn’t put in much effort. Instead vying to freestyle his entire verse, “Use to shop at TJ Maxx back in 83, I don’t even know if it was open then…” clearly not album material, but whose to blame here when he already stated early on in his verse “you ain’t gotta keep this Khaled it’s just a freestyle”?
If you’ve been following Rick Ross’ career, then you’re quite familiar with the Maybach Music series, having features from Jay-Z to Kanye, and even Eyrkah Badu in the past, they have become an album staple. The newest installment tentatively titled “Maybach Music IV” features Ne-Yo, as Ross decides to fly solo on an impressive J.U.S.T.I.C.E League production laced with electric guitar as he raps “Get a blow Job have a seizure on the Lear”- a reference to one of two seizures he suffered last year. Ne-Yo who can now be considered a frequent collaborator does an impressive job complementing Ross’ rhymes here. Things shift into overdrive on the Andre 3000 featured “Sixteen”.
A track that Ross details early on the difficulty of having so much to share, with only 16 bars to do so. While Andre 3000 has been just fine with 16 bars in the past, he literally snatches this track from under Ross’ feet, for an incredible 5 minute long verse filled with contemplation on a vary of topics, right after Ross shares his first hand better living. It can’t be all good though. The atrocious “Hold Me Back” sounds like a “Self Made Vol. 2” leftover. It doesn’t complement the album well, and would’ve been taken more lightly if it was a mix tape song. Same can be said for “911”. Even the title is not doing a good job at hiding those once career hurting “Officer Ricky” jokes. “Presidential” unfortunately, doesn’t fair well either. Produced by Pharrell, seems to be all over the place. The production is nothing to write home about, while the chorus doesn’t compliment the constant chanting in the background. Of course Ross’ MMG cohorts are all present. Omarion drops in for the short and sweet “Ice Cold”, Meek on the street single “So Sophisticated”, while MMG newcomer Stalley appears on “Ten Jesus Pieces” for an impressive verse that recognizes how those before him wore the coveted Jesus Piece. “Versace shirt Jesus laying on the chest, man I swear Big did it the best I mean Nas did it fresh, and Jay did it fresh, I mean Ye did it fresh but man, Big did it the best!”
Wale and Drake are guests on “Diced Pinapples” which Rolling Stone goes as far as to say its “The worst song Ross has ever made”, but I disagree. While the piano driven track complete with Ross’ rough around the edges bars, Drake’s crooning and even Wale’s opening poetry, it’s still not as memorable as his other lady loving hits, like “Super High” or “Here I Am” for instance.
Going into the making of “God Forgives”, Ross has mentioned that he wanted to make something as epic as a Martin Scorsese or Quentin Tarantino film. While its evident with the production that he was heading in the right direction, perhaps he just needed a bit more time. The album is too much of an event to be a total miss. While some songs should’ve been left on the cutting room floor, this summer blockbuster still deserves a chance. We forgive you, Ross.