Rick Ross is one of, if not the most inspiring story in rap music. I say this, not because of his life before rap, or because of his very public, and hilarious, outing as a former CO. Rick Ross’ journey is remarkable because he came back from obscurity. Ross had his hits in the beginning, but around 2007-09 Ross seemed to fade out. In 2010 however, after some strong features, Ross released Teflon Don, a modern classic rap album, and the momentum hasn’t stopped since. With Ross’ recent release, God Forgives, I Don’t, Ross has convincingly solidified himself as a true heavyweight in this game.
The album begins with “Pray For Us” an oft forgotten, yet brilliant, monologue from the John Singleton film “Baby Boy.” The sample sets the stage for the unapologetic “Pirates.” On the first music cut Ross lays his track record down for those who might not know yet. The bombastic horns coupled with the grimy bass creates a contrasting energy as Ross paints a picture of once criminals now living like kings. Speaking of kings, “3 Kings” is up next which is an a-list track featuring Jay-Z and a suspiciously Ross sounding Dr. Dre.
Shameless ghostwriting aside, “3 Kings” is an emotionally heavy track most rappers would save for midway in the album when listeners need a pick me up. Then again, that would be assuming Ross intended to let the energy die on this album in the first place. Next up is “Ashamed” which plays out like a verbal montage of Ross’ self-perceived amoral exploits. The tracks carries so much angst and pain, I can safely say it’s the most powerful track on the album. What comes next is Rick Ross’ declaration of relevance in “Maybach Music IV” the track is an anthem to his movement and Ne-Yo uses his soft cooing to be the lace behind this massively produced gem. Next comes the heavily Outkast influenced track “Sixteen” which features an out of this world 3000 verse that honestly outshines Ross so much I couldn’t begin to tell you a word Ross said on the song. Really though, if you’re going to be out shined, might as well be by good ol’ “Three Stacks” right?
Next up is the rap anthem “Hold Me Back” which is more of an epic portrayal of Ross’ personal mantra at the time of his highest influence. The song really grabs the listener and puts them in the hype mindset that a rapper, who is on the road to legendary status, might experience. “So Sophisticated” while good in it’s own right, felt more like a song meant to advertise Meek Millz than Ross’ which can be said of most of the MMG family cuts on this record. Rick Ross is often said to be creating the next dynasty, but as I’ve stated before, the whole “clique rap” thing is usually a waste of time and leads to songs like “Ice Cold” sounding more like “Hey, Remember Omarion? He’s Still Good Right?” and “Ten Jesus Pieces” to sound like “Hey This Is Stalley. Wouldn’t You Like To Hear More Of Him?” What I’m saying is that, most of the time, the best feature is no feature on this album.
The exception to the feature rule however, “Diced Pineapples” is a masterpiece that raises the bar for “songs for the ladies” in rap. With a very adult piano playing in the intro, MMG family member Wale lays down some expert spoken word leading to an introverted down tempo beat for Ross to lay his feelings down on. Even Drake drops by to croon one of his best hooks in years.
God Forgives, I Don’t is an album I never thought was possible from Rick Ross. I could say more, but honestly, just go listen to it, and you’ll see what I’m talking about.