After a few setbacks, Rick Ross finally delivers "Mastermind," his sixth solo album that truly shows he is a master at what he does.
In the last two years between his last album and now, Rick Ross has been through a lot, including surviving a targeted hit on his life. Critics bashed God Forgives, I Don’t and many wondered if Ross had peaked too soon and lost his touch. After numerous setbacks and delays, the bawse is back with his sixth album to prove that he’s a man with nine lives and a rapper with hits for days.
Calling it a masterpiece sets the bar very high but Ross has no problem hitting the mark and surpassing it. "It’s all about coming from wherever you come from and take it wherever you want to go to,” the Miami rapper says about the title, Mastermind. “And the minute you do that that’s when you can consider yourself a mastermind."
A soulful album that will no doubt feed the streets, Mastermind is rife with rhymes and lyrics about drug dealing coupled with the finer things in life. He name drops luxe brands with ease: Patek Philippe, platinum Audemar, Birkin bags, Rolls Royce Wraith, Ferraris, Belaire Rosé, brazilian weaves, silk underwear, Balmain uniforms. No one does luxurious gangsta rap better than Ross and on “Supreme,” produced by Scott Storch, he shows us why he’s the best:
“Speeding in the Ghost on the phone with the jewelers/ My new bitch out of D.C. call me Rick the Ruler/ Gotta gather my concentration while counting my stacks/ I got eight car notes and just lost me a pack/ On the beach I’m up and down, women jocking my ride/ 300 horses in this bitch, need a jockey inside/ False floors for firearms is how you should ride/ Tried to murder me while in mine so that’s how I survived”
It’s not all Rosé popping on Mastermind; being the boss comes with plenty of problems and Ross gives us a hint of what life is like living with a constant target on his back in reggae tinged “Mafia Music III” featuring Sizzla and Mavado:
“Moving bricks like it’s Black Friday/ She gotta fuck me or call me a fat crybaby/ Looking over my shoulder, I can’t trust a soul/ Bought a spot in Anguilla just for me and my ho/ Glock .40 even when I shower/ Chrome .22 in my swimming towel/ Mob ties and I pray the music set me free/ May the powers that be, nigga let me be”
In “Nobody,” Rozay’s 2014 remake of the classic “You’re Nobody (Til Somebody Kills You)” by The Notorious B.I.G., Diddy steals the show with his classic yet inspiring shit talking rant aimed at an employee but caught on tape for our enjoyment. French Montana provides the hook, a spot where he’s best. The coke boy also provides the hook for “What A Shame,” a Wu-Tang influenced song.
His beef with Atlanta rapper Jeezy has been well chronicled but after T.I. and DJ Khaled intervened, the beef was buried and the two collaborated for the Mike Will Made It produced track “War Ready.” Kanye West and his G.O.O.D. Music signee Big Sean join in for the exuberant and joyful “Sanctified,” which opens up with a sample of Betty Wright crooning about being born again.
No stranger to controversy concerning his lyrics, “BLK & WHT” contains a questionable lyric: "Trayvon Martin, I’m never missing my target.” However, unlike the U.O.E.N.O. flap, Ross wasted no time in addressing the issue saying in part that he will never let the world forget Martin’s name.
Tapping into his soulful side, “In Vein” featuring The Weeknd sounds like it could be right at home on the Canadian crooner’s album but it fits at home just as perfectly here. Surprisingly, the Jay Z featured “Devil Is A Lie” is one of the weakest songs on Mastermind although K.E. On The track certainly delivers a banging beat.
There are many stand-out tracks on Mastermind but none more than “Thug Cry” featuring Lil Wayne. The juxtaposition between the beautiful sound and violent lyrics won’t be lost on anyone:
“Wake up in the world and I’m just another nigga/ Call it public housing when you next door to the killers/ On them corners it gets better as you go/ Grind that motherfucker til it’s yellow brick road/ Free as a bird, spoken word in my verse/ On my knees prayin, niggas shootin in the church/ Wake up out my sleep in another cold sweat/ I lived on Billboard, where the fuck to go next?”
A mastermind at selecting just the right beat, Ricky Rozay worked with a host of producers but left it all in the hands of Diddy to executive produce and put the final touches on it to make it a true masterpiece. His best work yet, Mastermind reminds us why he’s the Telfon Don and why he’ll continue to dominate the rap game, and that he still loves his lemon-peppered wings.