We here at BITM have somewhat of a love/hate relationship with Rick Ross' music, and as a result we are guilty of not giving his solo albums or compilations any shine. There's no denying his success, but his ability to put together a complete project worthy of multiple spins seems to only happen with every OTHER album. "Port of Miami" and "Deeper than Rap" had their share of great songs but I never found myself wanting to re-listen to either of those albums in their entirety often. With "God Forgives, I Don't," it felt like Ross had grown too comfortable with his formula of above-average production overshadowing sub-par lyricism. It's a 60/40 marriage that has worked for Ross' career, but on his last album the disparity between the quality of his beats and lyrics felt more like 80/20. The whole act was starting to grow stale and I would often wonder if dude would ever be able to re-kindle that magic found on "Teflon Don" or "Trilla." All of those fears are laid to rest with his 6th solo album "Mastermind."
As quickly as music escapes me these days it's rare that even a good album has more than 4 tracks that catch my attention and become part of my daily rotation. But let it be known, Rick Ross' "Mastermind" is LITTERED with stone cold BANGERS. From the third installment of the lesser-known 'Mafia Music' series to the J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League-assisted 'Thug's Cry,' there is no shortage of the type of music that made Ross who he is. The street anthem War Ready brings two former foes together with Young Jeezy and Ross delivering that ignorant shit we love over what is possibly the hardest beat of his career. And Jay-Z's verse on 'The Devil is a Lie' is absolute FLAMES.
"Mastermind" is not without its flaws though. There are still a couple of highly forgettable tracks here. 'Supreme' and 'Sanctified' are some of the weakest songs on the album. 'Supreme' does not fit the mood of the album at all and probably should have been swapped for 'Paradise Lost' off the bonus disc. And with 'Sanctified,' there should never be that much of a gospel sample on a Rick Ross album because it clashes with the subject matter of the song. I mean the man is already a walking contradiction as it is, he should stop adding fuel to the fire while we contine to try to forget Officer Ricky existed. Big Sean and Kanye also bring nothing to the table worth mentioning. It would have been nice to see Kanye show up like he did on 'Live Fast and Die Young,' but the guy who was on that track is nowhere to be found here (and someone please remind this man how to pronounce handkerchief). Lastly, while the song itself isn't terrible, hearing the struggle with Ross attempting to emulate Biggie's signature flow on 'Nobody' is a slap in the face to anyone who was a part of the original song. At the end of the day if your wordplay ain't upto par, you have no business borrowing anything from B.I.G.
Speaking of which, not much has changed in the lyricism dept, but at least the man sounds hungry again (have fun wit that one). The thing is, you aren't supposed to expect conscious, lyrically charged music from Rick Ross. He makes music to smoke, drink, fuck, and ride out to. I wouldn't even say lower your expectations to enjoy Ross' music, because that would be doing a disservice to the heat on this album. The man's ear is golden. Rozay has always been able to pick some of the most classic beats I've ever heard in my life, and that trend continues on "Mastermind." If you were a fan of "Teflon Don" and "Trilla" put this album right up there with his best work. If you were never a fan of Ross, there's still no way you can front on these beats. As Ross says in his interviews, 'Check the scoreboard,' because regardless of how you feel about their music, MMG is winning.