By Brian Harris
There’s an old axiom that says that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” This is a perfect way to describe the mindset that Miami MC and major domo of Maybach Music Rick Ross had when making his latest album, “Mastermind,” his sixth full-length album.
After listening to “Mastermind” two or three full times, you can see that Ricky Rozay was aware of the impact that the albums dropped by Jay-Z, Kanye and Kendrick Lamar and use those albums as influence on how “Mastermind” sounds differs from previous efforts “God Forgives, I Don’t” and “Teflon Don”, thanks to beats from producers like Scott Scorch (Supreme), Major Seven and K.E. on the Track (The Devil Is A Lie). This adventurous leap is how the Rick Ross sound is different on “Mastermind” is best shown on The Weeknd-guesting groove jam “In Vein” and the reggae-tinged “Mafia Music III”, which helps Rozay spin his tale of Tony Montana-like life that he lives.
While “Mastermind” sound good beat-wise, where it loses you is with the rhymes which are nothing more than the standard-issue Rick Ross lyrics, which is all about being stupidly rich and living life like a South Beach Frank Lucas, which is cool and all but after five albums, fans of both Ross and hip-hop in general are like, “OK, we get the point, how about moving on now?”
At times, Ross is about as subtle as a baseball bat to the face with the message of how massively wealthy he is, the biggest example being the intro to “Drug Dealers’ Dream”, which is a recording of an automated bank teller telling the listeners just exactly how much cash Ross has in his checking account, which is over $92 million dollars, which is a lot of fucking money.
Hip-hop has always been a braggadocio’s paradise, where talents measure not so much by skill and talent but also by just how many inferences to the amount of wealth that you have that you can cram into either 16 or 32 bars. Rick Ross has proven to be one of the very best at this over the past few years. That being said, this style of hip-hop is being pushed over to wayside in favor of more cerebral verses and beats that captivate the listener. The song “Sanctified” which was produced by Kanye West and features guest verses from both Yeezy and Big Sean shows just how archaic the 90’s-throwback flow Ross has is compared to two of the premier MCs of today and how he has to rely on references to fellatio and grilled cheese and well as a tacky reference to Trayvon Martin on the track “Blk & Wht”.
Looking at “Mastermind” as a complete album, it will be another moneymaker for Mr. Ross, as long-time MMG fans will scoop this album up but for people outside of that scope will be underwhelmed by the one-trick pony lyrics that pale in comparison to the top-notch production. That being said, you can’t not give Rozay his props for being able to tell essentially the same story (its validity is another argument for another time) for six straight albums and still be able to profit off it. Is it a bit lazy? Yes, but it works for him and plus, I highly doubt that he gives a shit what people think. ***
Recommended Songs: “In Vein”, “Drug Dealers’ Dream”, “What A Shame” (featuring French Montana).