[Opinion] Hip Hop Forgives Rick Ross, I Don't
The title sounds harsher than this is really all about. This isn’t as much about Rick Ross as it is about the culture that praises his method of entertaining the masses. Without there being a trace of dope boy authenticity in his music, Rick Ross has pulled off the greatest feat in the history of hip hop. He singlehandedly changed hip-hop’s motto from “Keep It Real” to “It’s Just Entertainment.”
It sounds stranger than fiction, but how else can you explain what The Bawse has accomplished over the course of the past half decade? He created a character, played said character, got his card pulled for being a character, disregarded the truth and we bought it all hook, line and sinker as he was anointed by MTV as “The Hottest Rapper in the Game.” Somehow, he jedi mind tricked us into forgetting his past and we created a monster that slurps lobster bisque and shines his beard with soul glo sheen.
It’s like living in hip-hop’s twilight zone. Journalists and bloggers mindlessly wave pom poms that would have otherwise cast him aside as a fraud in a normal universe. Record execs utter phrases like “He doesn’t have an office in a building because the streets are his office” and “Rick Ross has revolutionized the mixtape” when we know good and damn well that both statements are outrageously over exaggerated. Yes, he has a brilliant marketing scheme and a great team around him. Yes, he has surrounded himself with solid artists that represent all sides of the streets. It’s just strange that he’s become such a huge star considering that his life is a manufactured fairy tale based on what we desire.
But this really isn’t about hating on Rick Ross. Truth be told, he has steadily improved as an emcee since his “Hustlin” days and his ear for production is impeccable. Put it like this, if Nas had Rick Ross’ ear for beats, he would have signed Jay-Z to Def Jam. Think about it, but not too hard because it will give you an aneurism and take this entire conversation off course. Simply put, Rick Ross’ sleight of hand has been remarkable and kudos to him for pulling it off. I just don’t understand the disillusioned fandom that has elevated him to the hottest rapper in the game and crowned God Forgives, I Don’t as a brilliant album.
The issue I have here is the round of applause Ross is getting despite this album being a Xerox of the very formula used for Teflon Don and the albums preceding it. We’ve heard this all before. Actually, we’ve heard this done better by Rick Ross before. If the name of the game is progression, Rick Ross has opted to chill on the bench and practice his grunts. Considering that this is his fifth album, you would think that the formula could use an upheaval. But no, what we get is the same luxury rap talk and fictional dope boy tales. Apparently, it doesn’t take much to excite us and we don’t demand that Ross get creative with how he approaches an album.
God Forgives, I Don’t is the same dinner that Rick Ross has served us for the past six years. It just tasted better the first four other times we had it. Street anthems like “Hold Me Back” and “911″ pale in comparison to the chest pounding “BMF” and “MC Hammer.” I’ll take John Legend and “Magnificent” over the blahzay Usher and “Touch’N You.” I also prefer the smoothness of “Aston Martin Music” over the syrupy and strangely juxtaposed collaborative effort “Diced Pineapples.” Listening to Wale’s finger snapping headwrap poetics get belly flopped by Rozay grunting “Shorty so fine, pussy so fresh…” and then Drake’s sing songy hook is an assault on the senses. The album’s subject matter never wavers from the predictable and is an exercise in hyperbole to the fullest extent. While “Ashamed” and it’s Wilson Pickett sample is one of the better moments on the album, I can’t help but cringe a little when he says “Until then I’mma be the d-boy I’m ashamed to say.” Calling yourself the “Christopher Wallace of my time” on “Pirates” should be labeled as blasphemy. But because Rozay has mastered the art of the ludicrous, we’ll just act as if we’re all in on the same joke. You know, like the friend everybody has that constantly boasts about all of his women when we all know that he’s lying through his teeth. We just accept him for what he is.