Rick Ross is a work horse. Despite legal troubles, the Maybach Music boss just released a seventeen-track mixtape to hold us over until his next official project. Mind you, Ross released a #1 overall album last year in Mastermind, along with a #2 rap release in Hood Billionaire. He's been having a quiet year musically, but that all changed this past Thursday when he dropped Black Dollar

If you've been following Rick Ross' career, then Black Dollar won't be anything new to you. Ross is known for spitting luxurious bars atop classy piano beats on some tracks and getting raw and gangster on others. He's occasionally political, and he always likes to have a couple joints for the ladies. While this formula has been rehashed at least half a dozen times by now, one thing is certain: it works. 

There's something very American about making millions of dollars by making songs about how you're making millions of dollars. Ross, who evokes the "being broke is the root of all evil" philosophy has perfected this craft, so much so that he recently posted $2 million in bail after being jailed for allegedly pistol-whipping his groundskeeper. He is the Hood Billionaire through and through. 

You don't even have to listen to his verses to know Rick Ross is really rich; he lets you know in the intros. On "Geechi Liberace," Ross boasts, "Rings on every finger / In the south with the AC set at 69 at all times," before he ever spits a line. The rest of "Geechi Liberace is legitimate hip-hop with quality production. Ross' verses play out like an episode of "Cribs." The content is always the same, but it feels great to live vicariously in Ross' riches for an afternoon. "Penthouse suite fifty ninth floor / The other fifty eight were totally vacant," -- it's a life most of us will never live, but damn it if a man can't dream. 

It's boastful luxury rap, but it's just so damn tasteful! On "Icon," Ross claims to be "Winning in real estate, opening restaurants / And I really don't give a fuck who rolling the next blunt," which is believable if you've heard anything about his WingStops or weed habits.

When he isn't talking about his own bank account, he's talking about the ladies. Ross loves the ladies. "Drive A Nigga Crazy" and "She Wanna Fuck" have no shortage of X-rated lines, such as: "Pink surface, that's the purpose of a side chick" or "Bitches on my tip 'cause I fuck 'em till they drip / She make me bust a nut then I might just load the clip." 

Ross always keeps a nice crew of friends in tow, and Black Dollar is no different. The-Dream, Anthony Hamilton, Gucci Mane, Future, and Wale are all on board to spice up the release. Meek Mill pops up on two tracks even though Ross bragged on "Foreclosures" that he "never took an L back when Meek fell." Each artist attacks their feature as though they want to bring their A-game for Ross. Meek Mill especially annihilated his verse on "World's Finest," making some of us forget the loss that Ross alluded to earlier in the project.

Wale is on board for "Beautiful Lie," the softest track on the project. With a slow, almost ambient backdrop, the song wouldn't feel out of place on The Weeknd's Beauty Behind the Madness. It's a sign that Ross will occasionally go outside of his comfort zone, especially when there's golden opportunity to showcase a fellow MMG emcee. The incarcerated Gucci Mane also somehow lands on the project and shows, and when he joins Ross and Meek on "Turn Ya Back," he proves he can still be an influential part of the current hip-hop landscape whilst behind bars. 

Ross' ace in the hole, as usual, is the production. Black Dollar employs a variety of producers, but every beat suits Ross' flow. He really knows how to pick 'em. "Foreclosures," "Money Dance," "Icon," and “Geechi Liberace" have that Soulquarians vibe to them, while "Turn Ya Back," "Knights of the Templar," and "Take Advantage" come straight from the trap house. The project slowly transitions from jazzy and funky instrumentals to more modern rap productions. There are longtime collaborators like J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League and Jake One, along with newer cats like Kennedy Rothchild and Bobby Kritical. Despite the fact that over 10 beatmakers contributed to Black Dollar, it maintains a cohesive vibe.  

The bottom line is this: If you’re a fan of Rick Ross’ style, you're going to dig Black Dollar. It's a mixtape full of easy listening, luxurious rap tunes, and while it doesn’t break the mold, it's another successful project for the MMG boss. 

When Ross says, "This is the very best of the best / This is top shelf, the caviar of hip-hop," at the beginning of "Bel Air," he really means it. Just look at what he and Maybach Music Group have done over the past half decade. Since its inception in 2009, the label has produced 16 top 5 albums on the rap charts, with a few hitting No. 1 on the overall charts. Rick Ross isn't just blowing smoke when he talks about his fortune or his empire (although he is probably blowing smoke, too). When it comes to this era of hip-hop, Rick Ross is one of the biggest voices, period. Black Dollar continues that great tradition, and as a free mixtape, it's a great way to be thanked for all the support.