Nobody brags quite like Rick Ross. “Money through the roof and got it falling through the sky / Got me counting money on a Percocet high,” he vaunts in the opening bars of ‘Imperial High’, one of the last tracks on his 11th studio album ‘Richer Than I’ve Ever Been’. This type of extreme swaggering has been a part of the Miami rapper’s repertoire ever since he burst onto the scene in 2006 with his self-starting street anthem ‘Hustlin’’.
Although rappers have always embellished their financial status in order to bolster their credibility, Ross’ high-level wealth has always seemed legit. He regularly validates his status as the “biggest bawse” through the promotion of luxury cars, jewellery, palatial estates and big business ownership. So when he raps “I am more than rich” on the lavishly majestic ‘Marathon’, you’re inclined to believe him.
‘Made It Out Alive’ leans heavily on the come-up before the pay day. Backed by a hypnotic bassline and Halloween-style keys, Ross recounts the harsh realities of the disenfranchised and the consequences of the street life: “Negativity grow like weeds in the flower bed / Seen Gs turn into fiends, get a thousand years.” ‘Rapper Estates’ continues along the rags-to-riches theme, with assistance coming from rising rap luminary Benny The Butcher, whose ice cold bars cut through the beat like a machete.
The volume of top-tier production is impressive; the soundscapes are crisp – most notably on the menacing ‘The Pulitzer’ and ‘Wiggle’, the latter of which flips Juvenile’s 2003 cut ‘In My Life’. Despite this, the absence of J.U.S.T.I.C.E League, the production team responsible for crafting some of Ross’ greatest hits – ‘Aston Martin Music’, ‘Sixteen’ and the ‘Maybach Music’ series, to name but a few – is noticeable. There’s a type of prestige and magic that comes with a JL beat, their high-end musicianship often adding a layer of sophistication to Ross’ uncut bravado.
There’s nothing complex about what Rick Ross does. Sure, he’s a gifted lyricist and a master at picking beats, but his true talent lies in his innate ability to recognise that the customer is always right, never deviating too far from what made him famous in the first place. While disciples of Kanye West are still hankering for the “old Kanye” to come back, Ross consistently portrays the ‘old Rozay’, garnering successful results more times than not. Sometimes simplicity is key: if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.
Release date: December 10
Record label: Epic/MMG