Rick Ross doesn’t take much time off. Since the release of his 2006 debut album, Port of Miami, Rozay has steadily released new projects. This includes nine albums, seven mixtapes (which were mostly albums), and four compilations in his 11 year career. And while those are great accomplishments, I’m still not sure if Ross can be mentioned with the elite rappers of our time.

It’s sometimes feels that while Ross barely (and only technically) has one Platinum album, he has willed us into thinking about mentioning him with the current Hip-Hop exclusive level. To accomplish this Rozay does things like grab features from Hip-Hop legends like Kanye West, Jay Z, and Dr. Dre, or bossing up in 2009 to form his own staff/record label/crew in the form of Maybach Music Group (Remember that time he tried to sign Wiz Khalifa?).

Rick Ross has a catalog full of well produced material, underappreciated lyricism, and great features, but it feels like it’s as good as time as any to reestablish himself. With his 9th album recently released, Rather You Than Me, let’s see if Rick Ross still has what it takes to be called DA BAWSE.

1. Apple of My Eye
Featuring Raphael Saadiq; Produced by Major Nine
At first I thought this track sounded a little off to be begin the album, but on further listen, the introspection works as a good starting place. Ross raps about stuff like going to the White House with weed on him, owning “the biggest residential pool in the U.S” (Sorry Drake and Kanye), and being honestly real with his only daughter.

The thing from this song that made is the line about him telling Meek Mill not to trust Nicki Minaj while they were dating. I don’t think that was knock on Nicki, just shit friends say to each other (Rozay was probably right by the way).

With a chorus provided by Rapael Saadiq and production anchored by a saxophone, all of this works together and we are off to a good start.

2. Santorini Greece
Produced by Bink!
While the charm of most of Rick Ross’ rhyme is him sounding rich as hell, “Santorini Greece” is a mixture of that plus Rozay being a little woke. Yeah, he talks about blowing $300,000 with Lyor Cohen at Art Basel and stuff like that, but he also shouts out Mutulu Shakur multiple times and disses Jesse Jackson for being a government informant. It’s a weird combination that Ross has been doing in the past few years but I like it. Backed by the soulful production provided by Bink!, we are two for two.

3. Idols Become Rivals
Featuring Chris Rock; Produced by Black Metaphor
To a lot of people, “Idols Become Rivals” is known as “The Birdman Diss Song”. Maybe it is. But I just see it as Rozay riding hard for Lil’ Wayne and DJ Khaled and in it’s kinda commendable. It does also contains some well crafted bars aimed at Stunna:

Damn, I grew up on that Cash Money
Bling bling, was well known to flash money
Hit the liquor store, after my Vic authority
Quick to switch a bitch up, pick up me a thicker shorty
Pistol on me, nigga, ain’t no pickin’ on me
We veterans so it’s better if you go get your army
A thug holiday is where your body lay
Me and Trick Daddy come from a common place
So us gettin’ money, that’s just a conversation

That’s a lot packed into those lines. Ross rap about his respect for Cash Money when he was coming up, but also uses the word “army” to reference B.G.’s “Cash Money Is An Army”. He also brings up Trick Daddy (“Thug Holiday”) who has also had issues with Birdman.

And we can’t forget that Ross also chose to rap all of this over a sample of “Agua De Dos Rios” which was famously used by Jay Z & Beanie Sigel on “Where Have You Been” which was a song about fathers abandoning their families. Wayne called Birdman daddy; you see the connections.

It is weird that they put “Featuring Chris Rock” on a song like this. It’s not a feature, just Rock shouting out Ross before the song. If Rock would have got a verse talking about Birdman that would’ve been weird (Rock shows up again on this album uncredited on “Powers That Be”).

4. Trap Trap Trap
Featuring Young Thug & Wale; Produced by Yung Coke
There’s nothing much to distinguish “Trap Trap Trap” from other trap records made in the last six months (that also included the music video), but it sounds great on good headphones or a system with respectable speakers. The chorus also may get in stuck in your head too (“Trap, trap, trap, trap, trap, trap…”). Other than Wale sounding out of place on this track next to Rozay and Thugger, that’s all you need to see here.

5. Dead Presidents
Featuring Future, Jeezy, & Yo Gotti; Produced by Beat Billionaire
This song could have been on Teflon Don and nobody would notice (The only thing that would throw people off is that Jeezy and Ross were beefing at the time). And that’s not a bad thing but the type of beat used here sounds like something out of 2010. Here Ross, Future, and Jeezy get a verse while Yo Gotti and Jeezy handle the hook. It’s an okay throwback posse cut but nothing that’ll be remembered in a year or so.

6. She on My Dick
Featuring Gucci Mane; Produced by Beat Billionaire
Hopefully this is my last Teflon Don reference, but you remember that album had both “MC Hammer” and “B.M.F. (Blowin’ Money Fast)” back to back even though both songs sounded similar and was produced by the same person? This is the case with “Dead Presidents” and “She on My Dick” (Which is funny because Gucci was also featured on “MC Hammer”).

I actually prefer “She on My Dick” over “Dead Presidents” but not by much. Maybe because I like saying the hook and saying “She on my dick! She on my dick!” all the time. I don’t know.

7. I Think She Like Me
Featuring Ty Dolla $ign; Produced by Beat Billionaire
“I Think She Like Me” was the first single off the album and it surprised me. Sampling The Stylistics’ “People Make The World Go Round” doesn’t feel like something that would win or tear up the charts in 2017. I personally like it and it’s the best use of the sample since Westside Connection in 1996. This also fits with Ross’ past smooth sounding singles like “Magnificent” or “Super High”.

8. Powers That Be
Featuring Nas; Produced by SAP
I may need to go back and check again, but I think I’ve enjoyed all of the past Rick Ross & Nas collaborations. “Powers That Be” is probably the worst of them all. That’s doesn’t mean it’s a bad song but it does feel unfinished from Ross just saying “Um, yeah” on the hook to the tacked on vocals at the end. It feels like it could’ve been on a movie soundtrack or something (If that makes sense). This could’ve been better.

9. Game Ain’t Based On Sympathy
Produced by Bink!
Ross is back to reminiscing as the intro on “Game Ain’t Based On Sympathy” is him talking about when he used to eat government cheese and thanking God that his kids don’t have to. Rozay raps for three verses with no hook over lush production. In terms of lyrics, the highlight is his thoughts on Stacy Dash (Somebody who actually has appeared in one his music videos):

A pretty chick, she resembles Stacy Dash
If it was her, she had to kiss my feet and lick my ass

It’s a good of a soulful album track from Rick Ross and it works.

10. Scientology
Produced by Bink!
I’m convinced that Rick Ross just liked the way the word “Scientology” sounded and just named a song that. Sadly, Rozay doesn’t spit bars about L. Ron Hubbard or Xenu; it’s more about comparing the way Scientology followers have to sign a billion-year contract and his devotion to Hip-Hop (He says as much in this interview). I really like the production on this one and funny enough it does make use of space sound effects. This is the second track in a row that doesn’t contain a hook and it just may be a thing that happens with him and producer Bink! connect.

11. Lamborghini Doors
Featuring Meek Mill & Anthony Hamilton; Produced by StreetRunner & Azzouz
I feel that Rick Ross brings out the best in Meek Mill and it shows on “Lamborghini Doors”. On the intro Ross talks about visiting Meek Mill when he was in prison back in 2014 and how when he came in cell block he heard Meek’s voice. The song fades in Meek’s voice on the track to help this narration and it’s a good touch. Meek Mill rapping here doesn’t sound like a guy that most Hip-Hop fans left for dead in 2015. The production has moments that reminds me of a soundtrack to a Blaxploitation and it feels right here.

12. Triple Platinum
Featuring Scrilla; Produced by The Olympicks & Analogic
Yes, although Rick Ross has technically only had one album to go Platinum, he does in fact have an song on his album titled “Triple Platinum”. But that’s the point; the song is Rozay talking about never reaching Triple Platinum status but living like he has (“Forty cars like I’m triple platinum/Four hundred acres like I’m triple platinum”). I’m not too familiar with new MMG signee Scrilla but he doesn’t sound bad here. I guess the only issues is that I can see the slow production getting boring as well as how many times the words Triple Platinum are mentioned.

Sidenote: This actually reminds me that Prodigy had a song back in the day about going Diamond called “Diamond”.

13. Maybach Music V
Featuring DeJ Loaf; Produced by Buda & Grandz & Beat Butcha
Rozay brings back his “Maybach Music” series after not featuring it on the three last albums (“Maybach Music IV” was on 2014’s God Forgives, I Don’t). It feels like featuring Dej Loaf on “Maybach Music V” is let down in terms of star power; in the past this series has featured the likes of Jay Z, Kanye West, Lil’ Wayne, Erykah Badu, T.I., & Jadakiss. Apparently the reason DeJ Loaf was chosen is because she is Ross’ daughter favorite artist.

Now as for the actual music, DeJ Loaf’s vocals don’t sound out of place and she actually does most of the heavy lifting. “Maybach Music V” shares the heavily produced soulful production as it predecessors, but it doesn’t really feel like a “Maybach Music” song. Rank it 5th in the series (6th if you count “Maybach Music 2.5”).

I wonder what happened to the original “Maybach Music V” that was suppose to feature Bobby Womack?

14. Summer Seventeen
Featuring Yo Gotti; Produced by Beat Billionaire
I’ve said this before, but while people think this is Rick Ross’ take on Drake’s “Summer Sixteen”, I truly feel this is a sequel to probably my favorite Ross’ song, “The Summas Mine”. When this was initially released, it didn’t contain a verse from Yo Gotti. I actually prefer the originally but I don’t mind Gotti’s verse ether. This might be my favorite track off the the album and has Rozay ending the album by beating on his chest as the credits roll.

BOTTOM LINE:
Up front, this is not Rick Ross’ best album to date. But as a whole, it’s probably his best project since Rich Forever. Rozay’s ear for great production is still on display here and to be honest there’s not a bad beat to be heard on Rather You Than Me.

The thing I mostly like about most albums by Rick Ross is on also here with Rather You Than Me; it sounds extremely expensive without making me feel like a “broke boy”. Ross raps about being rich while motivating you to do the same and that’s something rare in today’s rap landscape.

Rather You Than Me does have it’s drawbacks. The features aren’t as great as Rozay’s previous outings. Some of the songs do sound similar at times. But besides that, it’s a lush ride in the passenger seat of Rick Ross’ luxurious Maybach. Sweet.