Many fans (especially the youngsters) are quick to count Mr Rozay out – especially now he’s sitting on the wrong side of forty. However, anyone that’s been keeping tabs will know that his last LP, ‘Black Market’, is arguably one of the most polished projects in his canon, so, you know, he’s still got it. ‘Rather You Than Me’, on the other hand, while not hitting the peaks of releases like ‘Teflon Don’ and ‘Rich Forever’, establishes the MMG boss as a decadent host – a host that can invite important figures from up and down the hip-hop timeline to a seat at his table.
I think it’s funny when fans scold Ross for invariably rapping about luxury – you know, islands they’ll never go to, cars they’ll never drive and clothes they’ll never wear; sure, it’s annoying when some rappers do it. But when Rozay gets it right – you can see the white sand, smell the leather on the inside of his new S Class and feel the new bed linen with the mad thread-count that he meticulously notifies you of to pad out his cadences. In other words, you don’t get mad when Ricky does it because the nature and specificity of his bars allow you to experience it vicariously.
Luckily for us, this is a knack that he carries forward for his ninth studio album. Cuts like ‘Santorini Greece’, and the album’s lead single, the Ty Dolla $ign-assisted ‘I Think She Like Me’, bring imagery and eloquence by the bucket load. ‘I Think She Like Me’ in particular exhibits Ross at his finest. A shimmering, prohibition-era beat delivered by C-Gutta, and a simple, yet extremely effective hook by Dolla $ign provide Rozay with the perfect platform for his articulate boasting: ‘Really had to see them things this level’ storytelling / Who else could flip a chorus into forty million’.
Another element of his catalogue that he dusts off and remarkets for ‘Rather You Than Me’ is the tubular bell-ridden trap cuts that catapulted the MMG clan to stardom back in 2010. I’m not talking about the Metro Boomin, creepy, synthy trap beats – I’m talking about the Lex Luger, turn-your orchestra-into-a-fucking-warzone sort of trap beats. That is, ‘Trap Trap Trap’, ‘Dead Presidents’ and ‘She On My Dick’ will instantly bring you back to that first time you heard ‘B.M.F’. However, it should be noted that Lex Luger didn’t actually produce any of these tracks (he, for some reason, has faded into obscurity), nevertheless, Ricky’s long-time collaborator Beat Billionaire goes a long way to filling Lex’s shoes.
However, there is a slight problem with these three tracks: they alone have six features. In fact, the whole album itself boasts fourteen features in total. Now this, in itself, doesn’t detract from the entertainment value of the album sonically – if anything, it provides a welcome change of pace to a project containing songs that often run longer than five minutes. That being said, it does raise a few questions about how much gas the MMG boss has left in the tank and, perhaps more worryingly, it provides his guests with plenty of opportunities to upstage him.
Take the Nas-assisted ‘Powers That Be’, for example. Although Ricky always steps his game up when he’s on wax with Nas, he can rarely keep up (except for ‘Triple Beam Dreams’ – Ricky killed that), and this time – unfortunately – is no different. The same, I’m afraid, goes for ‘Maybach Music V’, the latest instalment in Rozay’s coveted series and, arguably, its most underwhelming; Dej Loaf saves it, though, with a beautifully candid vocal performance, accentuated perfectly by the shimmering instrumentation.
All in all, it’s a successful outing for Rick Ross. And there’s no doubt in mind, given his solid work ethic, that number ten will be hitting the streaming services before you know it.