Rick Ross – God Forgives, I Don’t [Review]

A lot of things has changed for Rick Ross since his debut album in 2006. While he came in the rap game saying he was the boss, in 2012 he is arguably the hottest rapper in the game even now backed by a viable team (Maybach Music Group replaced Triple C’s). Each of his 4 previous albums has seen growth in sound as well as lyrics but does the 5th album, God Forgives, I Don’t, keep the Ross on this path? While it has already been deemed a classic by some (What’s up Khaled & Drizzy?) let’s take a look for ourselves at Rozay’s latest.

1. Pray For Us
Yes, this is a clip from the movie Baby Boy. Specifically it’s the prayer said by Sweetpea (Played by Omar Gooding) right before he & Jody (Tyrese) go kill Rodney (Snoop Dogg). I was unsure if this was the appropriate intro for this album, but it does have the signature Maybach Music drop in the beginning as well as the trademark Rick Ross grunt at the end, so I guess it fits. Let’s start the album…

2. Pirates
Produced by Kenoe & Got Koke
This song feels like it was made specifically to lead off the album. With an ominous production backing him up, Ross really shows his talents here. I know there’s always a little debate on how good Rozay actually is behind the mic but this song is a prime example of his wordplay:

Fascination with fortune afford me mansion and Porsches
Panamera abortions, marijuana imported
Dreams of getting cream and never to be extorted
Seen so many things, be preposterous not to record it
Product is in demand, profit not far behind
Got on my mother pearl, she fucking up father time

3. 3 Kings
Featuring Dr. Dre & Jay-Z; Produced by Jake One
First off, you have to give Rick Ross props just on the fact that he has a song that features verses from both Dr. Dre & Jay-Z. Second, you have to give props to Ross again because he obviously wrote Dr. Dre’s verse (Something that’s been done by rappers like Eminem, Jay-Z, & Ice Cube). And lastly, you gotta give props because this could have easily been one of the songs where it looks good on paper but fails short of the billing. The song is dope and all the things you expect happen like Dre talking about his headphones, Rozay being Rozay (“Come a suck a dick for a millionaire”), & Jay-Z talking about his daughter & looking for a bigger Live Nation deal (I still think his verse is crazy). This is boss shit. Also, shout out to Jake One; he’s come a long way since White Van Music; Congrats.

4. Ashamed
Produced by Cool & Dre
Here Ross chronicles the struggle of his early hustling days and his evolution to being “worth over a billion”. He uses a different cadence here from the previous tracks on the album but it fits the production. The soulful beat by Cool & Dre is built around a sample of Wilson Pickett’s “Shameless” and it’s a good change of pace. Songs like these are strictly album cuts but they help flesh out an album (No matter how much you believe the story).

5. Maybach Music IV
Featuring Ne-Yo; Produced by J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League
While this may be the 4th iteration of “Maybach Music”, this is the first time Rick Ross and has had one with no guest features. Maybe he’s saying that’s he’s at the level where he doesn’t need any features (Now that I think about it, with a little tinkering “3 Kings” could have been “Maybach Music IV”). One thing that does reappear is the epic sounding production and heavy instrumentation that has been a staple in this series (Once again provided by J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League). While Ross does his thing (“I’m alive, you could never write the South off/South paw, box a nigga off like a outlaw”), he sorta takes a step back and lets the beat do most of the work which makes sense because he’s going for that whole luxury feeling here. L.A. Reid even says a few words at the end (“It takes a boss to know a boss”). Ross also lets us know there’s “no finales here”; I’m pretty sure we can expect a “Mayback Music V” in the future.

6. Sixteen
Featuring André 3000; Produced by J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League
Good sequencing here as the previous songs flows seamlessly into “Sixteen” (Which may be because both tracks are produced by J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League). But let’s take a step back here: We have Rick Ross AND Andre 3000 on the same track; something I never thought I’d see but here we are. That being said, Andre get more shine here as he does the chorus, breakdowns, as well as a long ass verse (Not to mention the drunk guitar playing at the end). It actually feels like it could be 3 Stacks’ song with Ross featured. The song deals with squeezing what you have to say in a 16 bar sequence (I’m sure both rapper went over that though). I’m still trying to figure out how I feel about this one. Ross is Ross and Andre doesn’t do bad but his verse isn’t anywhere near mind blowing which is something we’ve come to expect from him. Either way, Ross can check “Doing a song with Andre 3000” off his bucket list.

7. Amsterdam
Produced by Cardiak
I thought with a name like “Amsterdam” that this would be a weed song. Thankfully it wasn’t. The meaning is actually kinda creative: Ross says he’s mobbed up so to kill him you have to get a “green light” or permission. But since he’s untouchable it’s “the red light district” wherever he is (Of course Rozay mentions weed but still). All besides the hook, I thought the song was persistent it was it was trying to do (I’ll overlook the “Berry Gordy to the streets”line. Really Ross?). A pretty dope sample use by Cardiak too (Cortex’s “Prelude A Go Round”).

8. Hold Me Back
Produced by G5Kid
When first hearing this song, it could be taken as lazy for the repeating chorus or almost recreating the hook from his crew’s song “Actin’ Up”. But it terms of songs that get you hype, this does the job. If Ross wanted something to be easily repeated and accessible, he also did that job too. Play this right after any achievement, no matter how small, and you immediately start singing the chorus. Example: While in the car, you just make it past a red light before it changes;  “THESE NIGGAS WON’T HOLD ME BACK”). Rozay is in full “B.M.F.” mode here.

9. 911
Produced by Young Shun
Remember on Teflon Don when Rick Ross put the similar sounding “B.M.F. (Blowin’ Money Fast)” & “MC Hammer” right next to each other on the tracklist. He does the same here with “Hold Me Back” & “911”. It may be because of this sequencing that this is my least favorite song off God Forgives, I Don’t. The fun stuff is there like Ross talking about buying a big & tall clothing store and picking watermelons, but the whole thing comes off as poorer versions of his previously songs of this nature (Some would say all his songs are like this but still…).

10. So Sophisticated
Featuring Meek Mill; Produced by The Beat Bully
This was the second single off God Forgives, I Don’t and I kinda wondered why (Even for a street single). Compared to what Meek Mill & Rozay has done together in the past, this feels like a paint by numbers affair. Obviously it didn’t make the splash it was intended for a reason. Still, if this was for a drug rapper on a lower level, this probably would be just fine. But for Rozay, this is a step down. Also, “We know you pussies, so you got my niggas masturbating” is one of the most pause worthy lines ever.

11. Presidential
Featuring Elijah Blake; Produced by Pharrell Williams
There is a video that came out before this album did that had Pharrell previewing this track for Odd Future. He seemed pretty proud as he should because it’s pretty dope. First it must be pointed out that Elijah Burke killed the hook. That matched with the production gives the song a comfortable lavish feel. Nice. Sidenote: In my head, the girl here saying “Get money” is the same one who said “Money make me cum”; I can only hope so.

12. Ice Cold
Featuring Omarion; Produced by Reefa
You know what would have been awkward? If Ross would have put Maybach O Omarion on “Maybach Music IV” instead of this song. I know Ross believes in Omarion but as of right now I don’t see him seamlessly fitting into MMG. As for “Ice Cold”, from the beat to the hook it feels like it should be Omarion’s song with a verse from Rozay kinda like what they did with “Let’s Talk”. Ross’ verse could be seen as mailed in too but it’s enough to get by. Average but good for an album track.

13. Touch’N You
Featuring Usher; Produced by Rico Love & Pierre Medor
Whoa. I had no idea that the album version of “Touch’N You” was actually “Fuck’N You” (There is no way I can’t get this confused with “Lemme See It” now). Now that I know this I can guarantee this is being played in fine strip clubs all across the country. I also noticed that all the song for the women folk on this album have been grouped together. As for “Touch’N You” “Fuck’N You”, I never thought it was worthy of being the first single, but I’ll admit that it has grown on me a bit.

14. Diced Pineapples
Featuring Wale & Drake; Produced by Cardiak
Only Rick Ross would have a song titled “Diced Pineapples”. Ross explained the meaning behind the title to MTV:

When I got out of the hospital — you know, I had a seizure last year — when I was leaving, the doctor told me, ‘You gotta eat some more fruit, drink you some water, eat fruit and just relax for a little while.’ My fruit of choice was pineapples. For the next three weeks, I woke up every morning and ate diced pineapples, and I put the concept together. Drizzy came in, as well as Wale, and it’s kinda like, ‘She could be my diced pineapple. This special lady, she could be what I wake up to every morning and help me get by every day.

Okay. Thankfully Drake, who shows up as R&B Drizzy and only does the hook, doesn’t mention the words diced pineapples on the chorus. Wale & Ross handle the verse but the beat by Cardiak makes this track the one the ladies will like the most. It’s well done but for my taste I’d it switch it out with “Stay Schemin'”.

15. Ten Jesus Pieces
Featuring Stalley; Produced by J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League
I like it when the last song on an album feels that way. The production here feels like Ross’ last speech right before the credits roll:

I wake up excited, I made it through the night
Things I did in the dark, will it ever see the light?
My nerves should be a wreck, I got a bad chick
She keeps me erect, she loves my ad-libs
I think I’m a genius, hundred grand a fucking feature
I do at least three a week, roll up the fucking reefer

Stalley probably gives his most MMG like verse on this song too (“Big did it the best”). “Ten Jesus Pieces” is a good closer because it conveys the lifestyle that Ross and been rapping about the entire album. Extra points because Ross is probably wearing 10 Jesus pieces on the album cover.

If you let the song play for a few seconds after, you’ll hear a conversation in spanish. I looked up the translation but the jist of it talks about doing dirt in Columbia, being rich forever, and “Dios perdona, yo no” (“God forgives, i don’t”).

Bottom Line:
Like with Ross’ previous efforts, he has chosen to make his music not only accessible but centamatic. On his 5th album God Forgives, I Don’t, Ross continues and achieves to make his movies (albums) bigger with each release. No matter how excessive or laughable anyone thinks of Ross’ drug kingpin/Tony Montana persona, it’s hard to deny how infectious the soundtrack sounds. I wouldn’t side with DJ Kahled or Drake in calling God Forgives, I Don’t  a classic, it a few bumps here and there, but the project as whole shows that Ross is not slowing down on the level of his production as well as the excessivness of his lyrics. It’s hard to say if this is his best album but at this point it’s doesn’t matter; just sit back and enjoy the ride. (insert Maybach Music drop here)

rating-four-a

Young Barry White. The geek out of the bunch. He is also Jay-Z’s biggest fan. He looks like your cousin from the burbs. He is “Pro Black” (not anti-white, just “Pro Black”). Probably the wittiest out of the bunch. It is said that he got fired from the same job three times.
  • YV (Young Vit)

    good review – i think u made an error – u said “1996” debut, i imagine you mean 2006?

    • B-Easy

      Yea, that was a typo. It’s corrected now. Thanks.

  • P-Body

    Man how can you say Andre verse isn’t that mind blowing but you think Jay-Z verse is dope? Jay verse is good but not on the level I’m use to hearing from Jay-Z many years ago…. Andre stole the show mane. He clearly have the best verse on the whole album. Anyway this album is dope as hell. I’ll give it a 4/5… This and Nas album are two of the best albums released this year

    • B-Easy

      That verse from 3 Stacks was so-so. And of course he gonna steal the song because he has more parts on it then Ross.

      • P-Body

        What’s really wrong with Andre verse? I don’t quite understand sir…. His verse is dope that should have been his solo song or at least have Big Boi on it with him.

  • RTIII

    Good review for a good album. IMO, it does have a couple of flaws, but it’s cool. And I agree with P-Body when he said this album and Nas’s album are the best albums that came out this year.

    • P-Body

      Word up

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1005162581 D-Major Thomas

    I don’t like this album. I think that its his weakest since Trilla. I literally cannot name one good line that Ross said during this album. This was a typical album to me, started out strong, then became lackluster after Sixteen. Hold Me Back, 911, and So Sophisticated were the poorly done BMF’s & MC Hammers of this album. Then he went for 3 straight love songs, with only Diced Pineapples being a standout, while Touch N You and Ice Cold are (IMO) two of the worst songs in Ross’s catalog of music. It ends well with 10 Jesus Pieces, with Ross sounding hungrier (No Pun Intended) than he did on any other track on this album, but it doesn’t nearly pick up the slack for the rest of the album.

    Overall, for how many times it was delayed, and how many times I heard other rappers in the industry say that this was a classic, this album was a disappointment. I liked 3 Kings, Sixteen, Maybach Music IV, Pirates, and Diced Pineapples. The other tracks are off of my iTunes. I really wanted to like this album (loved Deeper than Rap & Telfon Don; even liked Rich Forever), but as a realist, i’m not gonna lie to y’all or myself. I would have given this a 2.5/5

    Respect your opinion though B-Easy.

    • B-Easy

      I think we are so used to Ross having good production that we sometimes overlook it. He has some notable verses here but the production alone deserves a 3.

      I do agree about the sequencing though. Could have been better.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1005162581 D-Major Thomas

        The production on here is straight, but that’s not my point. I truly feel that anyone could have made this album. I’ve been a huge Ross fan since Trilla, but it’s this album that really has me thinking, “What would Ross be without his beats?” If this album didn’t have good production throughout, would anybody listen to this?

        I literally cannot think of a single quotable on this record. The best verse on this album belongs to Jay-Z (that’s the third time straight that this has happened to Ross with Maybach Music, Free Mason, and 3 Kings). Believe me, i’ve never expected Ross to wow me with complex lyricism, but 4 straight albums of talking about the same thing is starting to show it’s age. It’s about time to show some emotion about something other than food, money, drugs, sex, and chains, or do it in a way that’s creative.

        I respect Ross’s grind, his hustle, and his hardwork to get to where he is, but you don’t get to the top of the throne and sit there, you find out ways to keep your status. I’ve already seen some bad reviews on this album, and if his next albums sound the exact same, his reign at the top won’t be long. I hope Ross finds some creativity and follows this up with a better project.

        • B-Easy

          First off, thank god somebody besides me recognizes that Jay-Z had the best verse on this album. It just is.

          Now that that’s been said, Ross’ first verse on “Pirates” is pretty crazy. Not to mention that he may have out rapped Andre 3000 on a “Sixteen” (Yea, I said it). And you have to factor the production in. One big reason Nas’ last album was applauded is because of the production. With so many MC’s in the past having trouble with beat selection, Ross does it effortlessly.

          • This Guy

            “First off, thank god somebody besides me recognizes that Jay-Z had the best verse on this album. It just is.”
            Lol, no IT’S NOT! There were some quotables from Ross that were okay if not nice, and…I liked Andre’s verse.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1005162581 D-Major Thomas

            Pirates is a dope track, and it had ok verses. Beat selection is very important, but if I just wanted beats, I’d wait til the instrumentals for this album came out. To me, the way I judge an album is 50% is solid beats, 50% is solid lyricism. I gave this a 2.5 because while the beats were hot, the lyrics were (IMO) not.

            Your Nas point is very true, but if Nas didn’t come correct lyrically on that shit, most of us would eat that shit alive and Saule Wright wouldn’t have given that shit a 5. Rick won half the battle, as his sound is becoming better production wise, his lyrics are regressing.

            P.S: When Jay and Ross collaborate, it brings out the best in Jay. Id rather have Watch the Throne 2 with Jay and Ross if it means Jay would bring his A game to every track.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1005162581 D-Major Thomas

            Jk bout that Watch the Throne 2

  • http://twitter.com/SauleWright Saule Wright

    Great review bruh. I’ll reserve my album comments for later, but the review isn’t slackin at all pimpin.

  • Mr. Jones

    This is his worst album since Trilla. 3 Songs are really good, some are okay, but its mostly kind of retread Ross without any of the false urgency that makes his music compelling or at least fun.

    • B-Easy

      Songs like “Pirates”, Amsterdam”, or “Presidential” are overlooked but are actually pretty good too (I think “Presidential” has the chance to be huge).

  • http://twitter.com/SauleWright Saule Wright

    I’m kinda shocked at how bad y’all are saying this is.

  • Mike L

    If you do like you suggested at the end of your write up and just sit back and enjoy, then yes the albums pretty good. However one my first couple listens I just felt that the entire album just felt like the same ol shit all over again. So many of the beats sounded like other beats off of other songs, in fact many of them seemed like they were cut tracks from Rich Forever. Lyrically the album also just comes off as stale; I miss that epic feeling I got when I first listened to (and. actually purchased) Teflon Don. This albums a 3star IMO, irrelevant rant aside, great review btw.

    • B-Easy

      I think it’s somes verse from Ross on the album that are actually pretty good (I may have already referenced “Pirates” in the comments already and if so my bad).

      I think in rap you can go in two directions with careers: You can keep reinventing yourself (Like Jay-Z or Diddy) or you can stick to your guns. Ross is just expanding on his sound and some rappers need to do that. For example, look at Waka Flocka’s last album, he was trying to make pop rap like Flo Rida and fell on his face. Where can Ross really go from what he’s doing? I don’t wanna see him singing like Weezy or Drake? I don’t wanna see no rock shit from him either. Ross is just doing what got him where he is now.

  • Mike L

    * my irrelevant rant

  • http://twitter.com/I_8NTPLYN Mr. Twenty12

    Great review. “Life is Good” & “God Forgives I Don’t” easily two of the best albums this year.

  • http://twitter.com/ZMoneyBC Zane Crute

    I am really disappointing with this Ross album. It is a step back for Ross. I think Trilla, Deeper than Rap, and Teflon Don are all better. This album does not even have many bangers on it like past Ross albums. “So Sophisticated” is the only song that really knocks to me. “Diced Pineapples,” “Maybach Music IV,” and “Touchin’ You” are all pretty good but nothing else is exceptional. Ross has raised his standards album by album and this is defiantly a step in the wrong direction. This album is a C album.

  • bhhgvmb

    forgot about triple beam dreams! “NAS VERSE”