Rick Ross' second release of 2014, "Hood Billionaire," recycles a Rozay album formula that could use an injection of personality.
Releasing two full length albums in one year is a rare feat most rappers will never accomplish, but in a sense, it's really nothing new for Rick Ross, who yesterday released Hood Billionaire, his second solo album of the year. The rapper has been dropping albums, along with mixtapes that have been considered to be as good as albums, within months of each other for years now. His latest album, however, isn’t a fitting follow-up to his sixth solo release, Mastermind, which hit retailers in March of this year.
It's well known that Ross' ear for beats is immaculate. You just wouldn't be able to tell after the first listen to Hood Billionaire. It may even take several listens to fully appreciate the production found on the Teflon Don's seventh solo album. Ross has always prided himself on not having to rely on big name producers to lace his albums with heat in order for him to deliver dope project after dope project. Throughout his career he has instead chosen to work heavily with producers like Justice League, Lex Luger, Beat Billionaire (who produced several cuts on Hood Billionaire), The Inkredibles and The Runners, who at the time of Ross first started collaborating with them, were relatively unknown. On Hood Billionaire, he links up with super producer, Timbaland for the Jay Z-assisted "Moving Bass" and "If They Knew", which features R&B diva, K. Michelle. Neither record quite lives up to what should be expected from a Rozay and Timbo collaboration. "If They Knew" actually feels more like something Ryan Leslie would've produced for Fabolous in 2009.
Rick Ross likening himself to famed film director Francis Ford Coppola – which the rapper does on "Family Ties" – would make a lot more sense on previous Ross albums like Deeper Than Rap or Teflon Don, which were grandiose productions full of the excess found in Hollywood films. There’s a flatness throughout Hood Billionaire. Ross albums are normally anchored by, not only his selection of beats, but also his inventive approach to chronicling his journey from street hustler to one of rap’s biggest bosses, and also how he manages to vividly detail his seemingly extravagant lifestyle in such imaginative ways. Here, the street tales and luxury raps which accompany songs like "Coke Like The 80s", "Neighborhood Drug Dealer” and “Keep Doing That (Rich Bitch)” are just not exciting as we'd like.
"She know me through records, but she don't know me too well," Ross says on "Family Ties." "She" could represent the typical Ross fan, which is as a result of the Miami native having never really ventured too far away from his kingpin persona. This is definitely an issue, especially since he’s on his seventh album. Ross avoids granting listeners enough opportunities to really get a glimpse at who William Roberts is. He glosses over intriguing topics like the 2013 attempt on his life, the seizes that temporarily sidelined him in the Fall of 2011, and even what his achievements mean to him, and instead chooses to focus more so on reminding listeners of his supposed D-boy credentials, like on "Moving Bass", where he raps, "Twenty chicken spots and I still be moving bass."
Ross has figured out that there is a formula for what a Rick Ross album sounds and looks like. With that recycled formula in play here, it’s no surprise that many of Hood Billionaire's songs feel like left-overs from previous album sessions. There are remnants of past Ross glory on tracks like “Nickel Rock” and “Family Tie,” which are reminiscent to older Ross records like “Stay Scheming” and “Ten Jesus Pieces.”
Maybe Rick Ross is looking to get out of his Def Jam contract, and in an attempt to speed up the process, he’s releasing as many albums as possible. Whether this is the case or not, Hood Billionaire feels rushed and doesn’t exhibit much growth or creativity. It’s not a bad album – not at all. Highlights here include songs like "Trap Luv", "Elvis Presley BLVD", "Family Ties" and "Brimstone." It’s just that when you deliver projects the caliber of Deeper Than Rap, Teflon Don and Rich Forever, expectations are always going to be pretty high, even when you are dropping two albums in an eight month span. Ross has had an impressive run as one of hip hop's biggest bosses, and because of that, an album like Hood Billionaire just doesn’t do his extensive and revered catalogue justice.