Rick Ross is consistent but predictable on new album
Trevor Canty | Wednesday, April 5, 2017
“What you know about Wingstop?” Chris Rock screams on “Idols Become Rivals,” a track off Rick Ross’s latest LP, “Rather You Than Me.” The comedian wants to make sure that Ross, the proud owner of several Wingstops, is all business on his new album.
Ross, however, has been spending too much time eating his Wingstop favorite, the “10-piece lemon-pepper, baby,” and not enough time on his lyrics. The lead single “Trap Trap Trap” relies heavily on a weak bass line; it doesn’t have quite the same punch as “Purple Lamborghini.” Moreover, the lyrics leave much to be desired — the word “trap” appears at least 100 times in the song (I lost count after that). Ross takes his simplicity to an entirely new level; each song feels like an amalgamation of his Snapchat story captions. He relies heavily on quips about his ankle monitor which famously went off at the White House when Ross met then-President Barack Obama.
Though Ross’s social media presence may indirectly hinder his lyrics, the consequent transparency adds a unique authenticity to the album. Ross’s chest tattoos of Abraham Lincoln and George Washington grant the track “Dead Presidents” a strangely personal tinge. While trite, Ross’s lyrics are unquestionably real, tangible and unique. Ross even takes shots at Notre Dame’s financial aid program: “Ain’t no financial aid out in Notre Dame” raps Ross in “Powers That Be.” He might want to fact check that one, even if the sentiment surely resounds with many students across campus.
Throughout the album, Ross’s charisma and talent shine through when he distances himself from awkward pieced-together verses. His strongest tracks reflect on his journey through success. “Idols Become Rivals” is a direct shot at Birdman, well-known mentor of Lil Wayne and founder of Cash Money Records. Ross paints a picture of the rap game as web of connected rappers who are so close to each other musically and personally that opportunities for betrayal are constantly present. The narration of Birdman’s infamous treachery is intensely personal: “Damn, Stunna, I loved you” raps Ross in an uncharacteristic display of emotion. “Idols Become Rivals” is an important addition to the southern rap canon that is still relevant. While the New Orleans-based Lil Wayne may have faded into obscurity, others wronged by Birdman, such as Florida native DJ Khaled, continue to release hit songs. Noticeably, Ross’s tone is disappointed rather than angry, almost approaching pity. There is no denying Ross’s success allows him to indict a former superstar like Birdman without fear of repercussion, a display of power more effective than flaunting his watches and jewelry on Snapchat.
As Ross would be quick to point out, the numbers do not lie: He is a force to be reckoned with in both the world of music and the world of wings. As Chris Rock notably points out in “Idols Become Rivals,” the two aren’t mutually exclusive. At the end of the day, Ross has created an album that is stagnant musically but thematically progressive. Using Snapchat to make “Rather You Than Me” a visual album for his fans was an ingenious power move by Ross.
Overall, Ross seems to be resting on his laurels, and no one is blaming him for it. He has carved out a spacious, comfortable spot for himself in luxury rap throughout more than ten albums — not to mention a spot in wing sales. Perhaps diss tracks aimed at Buffalo Wild Wings are already in the works.
Artist: Rick Ross
Album: Rather You Than Me
Label: Maybach Music Group
Favorite Track: Idols Become Rivals
If You Like: Ace Hood, Jeezy
Shamrocks: 2 out of 5