Rick Ross is the Al Pacino of rap. No one believes that Pacino actually was a Miami drug lord, but his acting in Scarface was so dynamic that Tony Montana seemed completely real. Similarly, only the incredibly naïve think Rick Ross is an actual Don; as a general rule, real drug kingpins wouldn’t dream of carrying kilos of coke in their cars, let alone embark on international media campaigns to announce the details of their massive drug distribution operation. But somewhere between the time Ross’ heavyweight Hustlin’ first hit our eardrums and now, the Bawse … ...Read the full album review
DJBooth Album Review
Rick Ross is the Al Pacino of rap. No one believes that Pacino actually was a Miami drug lord, but his acting in Scarface was so dynamic that Tony Montana seemed completely real. Similarly, only the incredibly naïve think Rick Ross is an actual Don; as a general rule, real drug kingpins wouldn’t dream of carrying kilos of coke in their cars, let alone embark on international media campaigns to announce the details of their massive drug distribution operation. But somewhere between the time Ross’ heavyweight Hustlin’ first hit our eardrums and now, the Bawse has embodied the larger than life characteristics of the actual gangsters he names himself after (Freeway Rick Ross, Albert Anastasia) so entertainingly that rants about his “realness” have become as pointless as complaining that Al Pacino didn’t “actually” engage in gun battles with Columbian hitmen. Rick Ross represents the rap American Dream, an upwards trajectory that fittingly mirrors another fictional gangster. To remix Tony Montana, “In this industry, you gotta make the hits first. Then when you get the hits, you get the money. Then when you get the money, then you get the power.”
Actually, when considering Ross’ fourth studio album Teflon Don, it may be more apt to quote another larger than life personality, Diddy, when he asked, ““Are you not entertained!? Are you not entertained!?!” I must admit, I am more than moderately entertained by Teflon Don. It’s hard to remember a time when an album exceeded my expectations so thoroughly. If you had told me in 2006 that a man with the largest man boobs in the game would someday drop one of the straight-up best rap albums of the year, I wouldn’t have believed you. Well start believing.
What did I expect from Teflon Don? I expected tracks like Blowin’ Money Fast. B.M.F. is everything I want from a Rick Ross track – don’t make me think, just blow out my speakers with booming bass and allow me to indulge in some escapist fantasy with lyrics about money, cars and women. B.M.F. delivers on every front; it’d be hard to name a better pure banger, if it weren’t for the supremely monstrous M.C. Hammer. Hammer has everything Blowin’ Money does, plus Ross’ rhymes show a sometimes hilarious and hidden sense of humor. Unfortunately, the album version of Hammer contains a terrible Gucci Mane verse (it takes a real emcee to rhyme “ambulance” with “ambulance”), but that’s why God invented the fast forward button. Speaking of the expected, Ross employs a “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” approach to Telfon’s radio offering, bringing back Ne-Yo for the lead single Super High, which has completely flopped on the charts. (Note to Ross: No song that references Fran Tarkenton has ever hit the top ten. Ever. It’s true, look it up.)
If Teflon Don was nothing more than a collection of bangers and radio cuts that failed to launch we’d be able to end this review now, but surprisingly, if not shockingly, on Teflon Don Ross displays a level of musical artistry I frankly didn’t know he had in him. Thanks in no small part to Grammy worthy production from the J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League, Maybach Music III is an epically cinematic cut that Ross closes with a climactic final verse, and Free Mason features both a sure-to-be-analyzed verse from Jay-Z and finds Ross delving deep into black history beneath the track’s cash-strapped surface. I was surprised to hear such well crafted cuts on Teflon Don, but I nearly did a spit take when I saw the guest features Rozay had recruited. In addition to an Erykah Badu hook on the aforementioned Maybach Music III, none other than Cee-Lo joins him on the soulful Tears of Joy, and Raphael Saadiq lends his vocals to the well intentioned but ultimately failing All the Money in the World. Still, Raphael Saadiq? Cee-Lo? Erykah Badu? If some of the most-respected artists in the game are co-signing Ricky, maybe he deserves some respect himself.
Despite the name, Teflon Don isn’t completely invincible. Kanye so completely overpowers Ross on Live Fast, Die Young, the track would have sounded more at home on Ye’s upcoming album, and ironically the overinflated No. 1 is my twelfth favorite cut on the album, but on the whole, Rick Ross has crafted an album every bit as memorable and impossible to ignore as the man himself. Rappers have been trying to make the hip-hop soundtrack to Scarface for three decades now. Rick Ross finally succeeded. Bawse.
Listen to More: Rick Ross Written by Nathan S.
Maybach Music/Def Jam
First DJ Booth Appearance:
"Whip It ft. Rick Ross" (2006)
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