Since his major studio debut, Rick Ross has been a force.
Sure, we can point out several weak spots in his career, as is the case with most, but the level of consistency that the veteran emcee has displayed over the years has never waned. His sound has evolved, he’s experimented with various cadences and tried to shift gears on his content focus in later years, but Rick Ross, born William Leonard Roberts II, displayed a gradual rise to prominence that saw its commercial peak between the years of 2010 and 2013.
Although he may no longer be at his peak popularity right now; it’s hard for any artist to maintain the height of their popularity no matter their current stature, he’s made sure to show growth, and thus his fanbase has had to evolve alongside him, or else be left in the dust from ’09 bangers.
Over the years we’ve basically been able to watch Renzel rise up from impressionable runner, to kingpin, to OG in this little game called Hip-Hop, and he’s accomplished it all with an imitable style– there may be a dozen Future wannabes, and some may be close enough to simulate the real thing, but we’ve never had an artist really attempt to replicate the character that is Ricky Rozay. This is the same artist who gifted us with playlist mainstays such as “B.M.F.,” “Hustlin’,” and the famous “Maybach Music” series. With a keen and consistent ear for beats, he’s built a catalog that bears cohesiveness without the cliché of an overarching theme— a difficult task that has placed many of the South Florida-reared rapper’s contemporaries at a serious disadvantage.
With a catalog outfitted with 9 studio albums and 7 mixtapes, it could be hard trying to navigate the repertoire of the M-M-M-Maybach Music Group honcho. There are so many cuts that could easily represent the rags to riches narrative present through out Roberts’ impressive run, but for better or for worse, we’ve put together a list of songs from Rick Ross that define his career, and his best work to date. All the records belong to Rick Ross first, but may contain features.
What the following tracks represent are the unanimous highlights of each stage of Rick Ross, with some phases populating the mix more than others. We’re looking to the records that not only represent some of Rick Ross’ best musical output, but those that connected most immediately to his audience, and have left an impression in our collective memory, to this day.
Let us know if we missed a song that should’ve made the cut, as you surely will.
If you missed it, last week we tackled Young Thug (solo) records for a top 50.
“Holy Ghost” f/ Puff Daddy
Rich Forever is definitive Rick Ross. There’s no debating this. This is why a few of the cuts on this list will be pulled from that particular project. For the Carol City-bred rapper, his third mixtape was the ultimate moment in which he fastened himself into the personality we know today. Outfitted with a slew of bangers, all memorable in their own right, Rich Forever dishes out the best of both worlds for Rick Ross from his boasts of both luxury and the trenches.
“Holy Ghost,” featuring Diddy, takes on the former as the Bugatti Boyz deliver on an outing that alludes to Ross’ Christian background in a storm of well-written double entendres and metaphors. “They say I’m gettin’ money, must be Illuminati/Talking to the Holy Ghost, in my Bugatti/He knockin’ on the do’ don’t let the Devil in/He knockin’ on the do’ don’t let the Devil in,” Ricky lets off on the hook.
At the time “Holy Ghost” was one of a few cuts that emerged from an era of Rozay/Puff collaborations, following 2009’s signing of Rick to Puff’s Ciroc Entertainment management company. What their collaborations often entailed was the aforementioned focus on the lavish way of life and Puffy’s signature rants of wisdom, and “Holy Ghost” doesn’t stray from that formula.
“Rich Forever” f/ John Legend
No back story necessary, the title track from the best mixtape of Rick Ross’ career finds its home here. Complete with a hook courtesy of John Legend, “Rich Forever” is the retrospective cut that finds Rick Ross examining just how far he’s come. At this point, Rick Ross is six years in since his “Hustlin’” debut of 2006, and the come up is unreal.
He’s already dropped four albums, with his debut Port of Miami securing its platinum status while he rides on the double-platinum success of the song “Aston Martin Music.” With accolades such as these only scratching the surface of his accomplishments up until that point, it’s clear to see where his inspiration found its root. “I remember bein’ blind to it/’Til the day I put my mind to it/Pen and pad on the dresser for me to fine tune it/I sat in the corner, made up my mind, do it/Def Jam on my heels, should I sign to it?,” raps Ross.
The Rich Forever mixtape served as a preview of the soon-to-follow God Forgives, I Don’t effort, the rapper’s fifth studio album which would go on to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 200 and nab another gold plaque for the trophy case.
“Maybach Music II” f/ Lil Wayne, Kanye West & T-Pain
In discussing Rick Ross, the debate over which outing of the Maybach Music series prevails as the best can’t be left alone. For the purpose of this list, we’ll have to settle on “Maybach Music II.” The recipe for success was a metaphor-packed Lil Wayne, a T-Pain who, in his prime, served as everyone’s de facto choice for hooks, a Kanye West who was quickly approaching his most controversial era outside of music, and a Rick Ross who had settled into a signature sound.
In the case of Renzel, “Maybach Music II” managed to outdo its Jay-Z-assisted predecessor, and outlive the iterations to follow, even that forgotten 2.5 edition with Fab, Birdman, and King Push.
“Retrosuperfuture” f/ Wiz Khalifa
One of the more favorable results of a Wiz Khalifa and Rick Ross collaboration, “Retrosuperfuture” is a stoner’s anthem through and through. Taking a break from his regularly scheduled program of staying in the gutter and the streets, and assuming his interchanging roles of hustler and Hip-Hop figure, Rick Ross allows Wiz Khalifa’s persona to influence his content this go around.
“The minute I wake up I gotta get high/The homies we found us a way to get by/Lets call us some bitches and have a good time/A lot of bottles of Vodka as we forget time,” he rhymes as he kicks off the feel-good cut.
Soon after, we’d get “Retrosuperfuture II” where MMG soldier Wale offered up his own verse following the release of the Ashes to Ashes mixtape that housed the original version.
“Stay Schemin” f/ Drake, French Montana
Perhaps more than anything, “Stay Schemin” is best known for that diss Drake threw in Common’s direction. While that beef has since been squashed, Drizzy’s verse did pop out as one of 2012’s best, and gifted us with a very minor squabble worth following at the time.
For Rick Ross, as is his modus operandi, the presence of fire bars from a counterpart often causes him to step his game up, and noticeably so with his verse serving as a special preview of what was to come of the impressive God Forgives, I Don’t outing of the same year. As for both Drake and French Montana, “Stay Schemin” represented a decent predecessor to the success they’d soon find in “HYFR,” and “Pop That”, respectively.
“Nobody” f/ French Montana, Puff Daddy
Produced by Puff Daddy himself, “Nobody” is a tale of the streets as seen through the eyes of Rick Ross. Originally released as a promotional single for the forthcoming Mastermind project, the track opens up with an enlightening recording of Diddy dropping off a few gems directed toward an unknown receiver.
“That was really a Puff session. Going in on someone. That was him schooling some dudes. And the little homie from Revolt, you know, just politely kept that record button on. So, that’s my little homie,” Ricky would later reveal. “So, when he played it for me I’m like ‘Yo, let’s transfer this, man.’ And we made it right and when I went and played it for Puff, you know, I kept it 100. Told him ‘I know what the set was. I’ll never give up who you was talking to.’ Because y’all know ’em.”
“Nobody” pays homage to Biggie’s “You’re Noboby (Til Somebody Kills You)” cut as Rick Ross hops on his signature flow of bravado, touching on his vow to avenge fallen homies, and his dedication to succeed by any means necessary.
“I went back and listened to the Big record in a totally different way. At the end of the day, regardless of how graphic it may be, it’s a beautiful piece of art. It’s a beautiful art sculpture. Its original creator was The Notorious B.I.G.; I just came and I put my hands on it.”
“Sanctified” f/ Kanye West, Big Sean, Betty Wright
Another one in the vault of the Rick Ross-Kanye West history, “Sanctified” features a post-Hall Of Fame Big Sean, and is rounded out with the soulful vocals of songstress Betty Wright (see DJ Khaled’s “Holy Key”). In “Sanctified,” Rick Ross’ typical discourse about a lifestyle decorated in opulence and beautiful women gets a well-executed balance in the form of Ye’s introspection as he tackles on the criticisms he continually received, as many yearned for his earlier works in light of his experimental Yeezus album that arrived a year prior.
“Niggas be lovin’ the old Ye, they sayin’ the new Ye, that nigga be spazzin’/But when Ali turn up and be Ali, you can’t ever change that nigga back to Cassius,” he rightfully declares. This fan-favorite cut had a Yeezy, DJ Mustard and Mike Dean collab beat for the ages.
Following the success of his debut studio single “Hustlin,” Rick Ross would gift us with the follow up “Push It,” proving that the hunger of the then-budding rapper could never let up. It saw more of a commercial push than its predecessor, peaking on the Billboard Hot 100 at No. 57, and even getting the remix treatment from more than a handful of notable artists. These included Bun B, Jadakiss, Plies, The Game, and even Trey Songz at one point.
What “Push It,” in conjunction with “Hustiln” signaled was a rather solid entry into the space by a younger and impressionable Renzel, and looking back, the growth that Rick Ross has displayed over the years is noticeable.
“New Bugatti” f/ Puff Daddy
On “New Bugatti,” Rick Ross tackles on the lavish subject of a luxury asset–and who better to help him on the topic than Diddy?
The self-proclaimed Bugatti Boyz hop on the track to trade off verses on their ostentatious net worths—everyday stuff for these two, and a fitting cut on a project titled Rich Forever.
“One point five for the transport/Car got a letter B all on the asshole/Fuck a Swiss account, I got it all cash/If it’s any problem, you can bring ’em all back,” raps the Maybach Music label head.
“Triple Beam Dreams” f/ Nas
A standout from Rick Ross’s Rich Forever mixtape, “Triple Beam Dreams” rounds itself out with a verse from Queens’ son Nas— an appearance that honestly makes the track worthy of its presence on this list. Nas’ aggression on the track is likely the catalyst that pushed Rick Ross to step it up himself.
Most notably, the track arrived a few months before 2012’s Life Is Good, which, in hindsight, was a foreshadowing of the veteran MC’s fiery return in the form of his 11th studio album.
“Triple Beam Dreams” managed to make up for the underwhelming collaboration that was “Tower Heist.”
“So Sophisticated” f/ Meek Mil
A highlight off 2012’s God Forgives, I Don’t album, “So Sophisticated” is more of an offering for the streets. Produced by the Beat Bully, the track is Rick Ross’ chance at laying out the distinct difference between his operations and that of others— sophistication, of course.
“This the mob so you gotta get initiated/If you a mark, then you gotta make initial payment/We going hard, run it back just like it’s Walter Payton/The game sweet, gave all my niggas an occupation (Hugh!),” raps Ricky.
At this point in time, “So Sophisticated” arrived as just the latest in a history of collaborations between Rick Ross and MMG signee Meek Mill, a relationship that kicked off with Meek’s debut banger “Tupac Back.”
“Super High” f/ Ne-Yo
“Super High” was one of Rozay’s first songs following his introduction into the “New Bad Boy Family” at the time of its release. Co-produced by Clark Kent and The Remedy for F.A.T.E., “Super High” was a smooth-ass cut featuring Ne-Yo as the rapper and crooner take stock of their extravagant lives.
From it, we got a handful of remixes that included verses from Curren$y Wiz Khalifa, and Ace Hood. Commercially, the track just barely took its spot, peaking at 100 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts, but it should bring back some memories nonetheless.
“I’m Not A Star”
“I’m Not A Star” is best known as the opener on Renzel’s Teflon Don album. In it, Rick Ross does what he does best, putting his alter ego as a gangster ahead of his musical profession as he warns against assuming that he’s still not a gully shooter.
“Load up the choppers like it’s December 31st/Roll up and cock it and hit them niggas where it hurts/Told on my partner and help them cracker’s give him 30/I told him I got it, therefore I gotta do ya dirty,” he raps.
Teflon Don which hosts tracks such as “Aston Martin Music,” and “B.M.F. (Blowin’ Money Fast)” would go on to achieve Gold status and peak at No. 2 on the charts.
“9 Piece” f/ Lil Wayne
“9 Piece” is actually cut with two different versions, one featuring T.I. and the other featuring Lil Wayne. For the purpose of examining essentials, we’re taking a look at the latter, the version that ended up serving as a promotional single for 2011’s God Forgives, I Don’t release, although it never actually appeared on the album’s final product.
While both versions did get the video treatment, the most memorable, of course, is for the Lil Wayne version, with the likes of DJ Khaled, French Montana, and Gunplay making cameo appearances in front of the camera. The track also got a notable placement in 2013’s The Bling Ring film, directed by Sofia Coppola, daughter of Francis Ford Coppola (The Godfather).
Lil Wayne would go on to flip and repurpose the song for his very similar “John” track.
“Diced Pineapples” f/ Wale & Drake
Inspired by a dietary regimen he had to take on, following a seizure he’d had the year before, Rick Ross’ “Diced Pineapples” is one of the more memorable standouts to emerge from 2012’s God Forgives, I Don’t album. It’s sentimental Rozay at his finest hour, as he gets an assist from Hip-Hop’s torchbearers of ‘relationship rap’ in the forms of Wale and Drake.
“When I got out of the hospital — you know, I had a seizure last year — when I was leaving, the doctor told me, ‘You gotta eat some more fruit, drink you some water, eat fruit and just relax for a little while.’ My fruit of choice was pineapples. For the next three weeks, I woke up every morning and ate diced pineapples, and I put the concept together,” Rick Ross once explained of the track’s origins. “Drizzy came in, as well as Wale, and it’s kinda like, ‘She could be my diced pineapple. This special lady, she could be what I wake up to every morning and help me get by every day.”
In a project that included tracks likes “Hold Me Back” and “Triple Beam Dreams,” “Diced Pineapples” was the refreshing break from routine that found a way to match up to 2010’s “Aston Martin Music.”
“B.M.F. (Blowin’ Money Fast)” f/ Styles P
“B.M.F.” is one of the tracks that epitomizes the subgenre of mafioso rap. Equipped with a title that makes clear reference to the Black Mafia Family, once headed up by Demetrius “Big Meech” Flenory, “BMF” is one of Rick Ross’s more successful musical allusions to life in the trap. Produced by Lex Luger, it was the first time we’d ever really gotten a taste of just how raw Rick Ross can get. Instead of his recollections of the streets from the top of the food chain, we get Ross in the gutter and a proper introduction to the sinister sound that we know and love today.
Among those who have dealt out their own remixes of the smash are Papoose, Jermaine Dupri, Skepta, Bun B, Tyga, and Yo Gotti to name a few. After Young Jeezy released his own remix, “Death B4 Dishonor,” it was received as a diss track going Rick Ross’ way. Rick went on to drop off a response in the form of “Summa’s Mine,” and Jeezy went on to explain that it was one big misunderstanding.
Commercially “BMF” would peak at No. 60 on the Billboard Hot 100, and even earned a nod of approval from the infamous Big Meech himself.
“The Devil Is A Lie” f/ Jay-Z
Another solid offering from 2014’s Mastermind is the Jay-Z laced “the Devil Is A Lie.”
On a backdrop that frequented end-of-year lists as one of the most exciting pieces of production, Jay and Ricky Rozay’s energy comes unparalleled. This is prime Rick Ross boasting, while picking up on the swagger dripping from his contemporary, Rick Ross builds his bravado to impeccable heights.
The bulk of the track doesn’t stray far from the narrative of reaping the fruits each rapper’s success, executed eloquently.
“We’re pushing the envelope once again and it’s just one of those records I can’t wait to hit the streets.,” Rick Ross said of the cut prior to its release in 2013. “We went in another direction but it’s just one of those records that’s gonna speak for itself and everybody’s gonna have their opinion of it, but it’s most definitely what the streets need.”
“I Wonder Why”
Sampling Rachel Jeantel’s now infamous testimony in the Goerge Zimmerman trial, “I Wonder Why” arrived as a tribute to the late Trayvon Martin, the 17-year old unarmed black teenager who was fatally gunned down in 2012. The trial naturally sparked worldwide debate, and “I Wonder Why” was Rick Ross’ dark take on the situation following the verdict that acquitted Zimmerman of Martin’s death.
Situated over a sinister beat courtesy of Beat Bilionaire, Renzel’s point of view on “I Wonder Why” was a comparison between his upbringing and that of Martin’s. Similar to Trayvon, Rick Ross was brought up in Florida, and has previously acknowledged the likelihood that he could have very suffered the same fate in the southeastern state.
“I am Trayvon Martin, we’re all Trayvon Martin. He was from South Florida. That could have been me or one of my homies,” he told Rolling Stone back in 2014.
Packed with enough references to notorious kingpins and runners to outfit your favorite true crime series, “Hustiln’” was Rick Ross’ first major single arriving ahead of his Port of Miami debut. While it hasn’t seen the commercial success that other tracks in Rick Ross’ catalog have, its cultural impact holds much more significance, as it naturally signaled Renzel’s official entrance into this thing called Hip-Hop, and gave us preview of what was to come from the rapper, whose poignant backstory found its roots in the trap.
“The Boss” f/ T-Pain
In 2008, “The Boss” arrived the second single off of Rick Ross’ sophomore studio effort Trilla, and served as a prime example of Rick Ross’ smooth stylings when it comes to the ladies. Featuring T-Pain, it was at home in the era’s landscape, outfitted with a backdrop courtesy of producer J.R. Rotem, who, at the time, was experiencing a considerable peak in his career.
As the title suggests “The Boss” is yet another cut of Rick Ross listing off his accolades and earnings. It’s since gone on to push the equivalent of 1,000,000 units, earning Rick a Platinum plaque.
“Aston Martin Music” f/ Drake, Chrisette Michele
Just as the name implies, “Aston Martin Music” was created with elite luxury in mind. Produced by J.U.S.T.I.C.E League, the track arrived as a single in support of Rick Ross’ Teflon Don release. “Aston Martin Music” was only a dent in the Drizzy/Renzel collaborative vault, with the two hopping on cuts such as “I’m On One,” “Lord Knows,” and “No New Friends,” a working relationship which apparently reached its crossroads in the wake of the Drake-Meek Mill beef.
In spring of this year, however, Rick Ross, explained that the differences had been set aside for the sake of the money.
“I had to make sure we sat down to have some sort of understanding. Most definitely. It’s all about trying to touch nine figures. Anything going the other direction, you may get eaten.”
“Buy Back The Block” f/ Gucci Mane, 2 Chainz
In hindsight, “Buy Back The Block” was a special one. Here we have three Southern mainstays in an era of evolution for each of their respective careers.
For Gucci that meant yet another stride in his fresh start following his 2016 release from prison; for Rick Ross’ it was only the latest in a slew of previews for his highly anticipated Rather You Than Me opus; as for 2 Chainz, unbeknownst to most at the time, he was readying his most successful social campaign for his Pretty Girls Like Trap Music album.
“Buy Back The Black” was the soundtrack for an initiative within the black community, as the music video that came along with it illustrated Ross and Gucci’s plans to buy back all the business on the block and flip them, not only for their financial gain, but for the greater good of the community.
“Hold Me Back”
“Hold Me Back” was, quite possibly, the anthem of 2012. Finding its home on the tracklisting of Rick Ross’s God Forgives, I Don’t release, “Hold Me Back” was the ear-catching detail of a come up via the lucrative venture of controlled substances, and of course Rick Ross’s real life triumph as one of Hip-Hop’s most distinctive voices at the time.
“That’s the struggle, the angle I wanted to take on that record once again from somebody who may not have much, but that don’t determine where you end up in the game,” he told MTV News of the track that year.” From struggle to triumph, as long as you stay loyal with your clique and your family, you can overcome whatever. That’s how I feel.”
The message certainly resonated with most as the track made its rounds across the end-of-year lists, pegging it as one of the year’s most definitive cuts, and, press play below, it still goes hard af.
At the time, 2013’s “Box Chevy” arrived as a promotional outing for Rick Ross’ forthcoming sixth studio album Mastermind, an album that would follow a year later, debuting at number one on the Billboard 200 after pushing 179,000 units in its first week.
Opening up with a sample of a scene from the 1989 film Lean On Me, “Box Chevy” is classic Ross at his finest, detailing his come up from the title vehicle to a “Blue Lexus.”
A month before its release, Rick Ross and his then-girlfriend Shateria Moragne-el were the victims of a drive by shooting on the morning of his 37th birthday. While they both walked away unscathed, “Boxy Chevy” arrived shortly thereafter, perhaps as both an intentional and fitting reminder of the rapper’s resilience both during and after the ordeal.
“Idols Become Rivals”
On Rick Ross’ latest Rather You Than Me album, “Idols Become Rivals” essentially served as a wrap-up of the project’s purpose: chronicling Ross’ official ascent to boss status.
A clear diss track directed towards former collaborator Birdman, “Idols” was the nail in the coffin of a relationship gone sour. At the height of his career, Rozay could frequently be found on cuts with Cash Money Records’ flagship artists— Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj, and Drake. 2008 even marked the release of his collaborative mixtape with label head Birdman.
But a few indirect stabs in the back later, “Idols Become Rivals” arrived as an eyebrow-raising account detailing when and where the friendship went south, with reference to Birdman’s shady business practices, touching on his fall out with Lil Wayne, and his betrayal of DJ Khaled, leading most to suspect Birdman of being the “They” to which the super-producer often refers.
Rick Ross would later reveal that he crafted the track in a design that would kill two birds with one stone, cementing his fall out with Birdman, and signaling the end of his spat with comedian Chris Rock, when Rock took over the track’s intro.
What “Idols Become Rivals” effectively accomplished was the ushering of a new era for Rick Ross, bringing the skill he’d developed along his seasoned career to the forefront. Comfortably embedded into his more matured sound, Renzel uses the track and project as a whole to sound off on a new chapter that proves that he’s taken hold of his considerable status in Hip-Hop while showcasing his evolution.