The term “long awaited” is so overused its become almost meaningless - unless you’re talking about Rick Ross’ long-awaited album Trilla. The follow up to his explosively dope debut, Port of Miami, Trilla has been delayed more times than a flight out of Chicago during a snowstorm. Well the wait is finally over. Tomorrow the man with one of rap’s best voices will finally bless us with an album that shows what he’s truly capable of. The answer? An album that’s damn good, but not quite good enough. When we talk about Rick Ross, we’re …
DJBooth Album Review
When we talk about Rick Ross, we’re really talking about Hustlin. The massively swaggering track that introduced Ross and his impeccably groomed beard to the masses, Hustlin is inarguably the greatest Miami hip-hop track of all time (with all due respect to 2 Live Crew’s Me So Horny). But Hustlin’s legendary status has become a mixed blessing for Ross; what if the first song he ever dropped also becomes the best song he ever does? The world keeps waiting for another Hustlin, and while Trilla provides some close calls, it’s become evident that even Ross is struggling to live up to his initial promise.
The nominees to replace Hustlin’ starts with Maybach Music, a J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League produced track with a beat so epically smooth it could have made the American Gangster tracklist. Speaking of which, Jay shows up to drop a predictably mind blowing verse that completely outshines Ricky’s “boss” heavy flow. Hearing the two side by side actually proves a great point; Ricky is a much better lyricist than he gets credit for, but he’s nowhere near elite status. The same goes for Luxury Tax, a song that gets completely owned by Lil Wayne, despite verses by Young Jeezy and Trick Daddy. Now, having your song taken over by Weezy F. is nothing to be ashamed of, he does it to nearly everyone, but by the time Luxury Tax ends you’ve almost forgotten Ricky was even on the track at all. The moral of the story? Appreciate Hustlin’s greatness, it may never happen again.
Trilla finds Ross in an awkward position. In order to keep stacking paper in larger amounts he has to widen his fan base by crafting tracks with mass appeal, but if he loses his “hustler ready to die” image in the process he’s done for (a phenomenon I detailed in the Curtis review). Take The Boss for example; a track that find Ricky carefully balancing his dope-boy demeanor against the production of teen-favorite J.R. Rotem and the reigning king of radio, T-Pain. Luckily J.R.’s production perfectly walks the line between the street and the suburbs with a beat full of muted keyboard and subtle percussion work, exactly the kind of grown man production a heavyweight like Ross can rhyme over without compromising his cocaine-based flow. And for the record, we’ve officially hit the point when you can just assume T-Pain killed the track unless I say otherwise. Unfortunately the same can’t be said for Speedin’. The lead single off Trilla was such a disappointment it no doubt contributed to the album-release delay, and its failure to connect is almost incomprehensible. You’d think a track with R. Kelly on the hook and The Runners production would be a guaranteed ticket to Hitsville, but somehow Speedin’ took a wrong turn and ended up in Averagetown (I’m sorry, even I can admit those were terrible puns). It’s not that the track’s bad, it’s just…um…well…so average I can’t really think of anything interesting to write about it.
The point is, when I listen to Mr. Ross I don’t want slick production and number one hits, I want blunted beats and unapologetically coke-laced rhymes. And that, ladies in gentlemen, is why Money Make Me Cum is one of Trilla’s best tracks. Sure it’s got enough “b**tces” to give Bill O’Reilly a heart attack, which would be a step in the right direction, but this kind of adult-only content is where Ross is at his best. You can’t water down The Boss, and if only Trilla had more concentrated cuts in the spirit of Money Make Me You Know What it could have been the definitive Miami-hustler album. Instead it looks like that title is still up for grabs. Listen, if you think I’m being hard on the big man it’s only because I can’t help but feel like Ross has an epic album in him, and I’m not gonna be satisfied until I get it. Sorry, that’s just the kind of demanding motherf**er I am.
DJBooth Rating - 4 Spins
Written by Nathan S. on 03/9/08
Maybach Music/Def Jam
First DJ Booth Appearance:
"Whip It ft. Rick Ross" (2006)
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