After banging out a series of glitzy Miami gangsta albums that made him seem like the AC/DC (always the same, always quite good) of rap, Rick Ross gave the formula a rest for Black Market, an album that wanders into ruminations and cooled production at will, but still ends up all slam dunks and three pointers. Picking a key track is difficult as the epic bangers and surprisingly revealing freestyles all stand tall, but "Ghostwriter" sits in the middle of the album because it's the most anticipated, doling out industry gossip like a hot mixtape track but sending all listeners to check their packaging to make sure they picked up the explicit release, as Ross mentions some superstars he used to ghostwrite for, and they all get the bleep. It could be a fun gimmick that Ross can blame on the legal department, and these are the kinds of tricks that make each Maybach album feel so fresh.
There was a little commotion a few weeks back in which super producer Metro Boomin shared a string of thoughts on Twitter voicing his opinions on rappers trying to copy Future’s career year. His Twitter tirade basically concluded with him advising rappers not to put out too many projects in such a short amount of time, because, unlike Future, there won’t be any quality in the quantity. Sure, Future has had a great year, but if there is a discussion about rappers who deliver high-quality projects year round, then Rick Ross has to be mentioned.
The life of a boss is defined by highs and lows. Five years ago, Rick Ross was voraciously bragging about blowing up like napalm and parking his Caddy in the living room on Ashes to Ashes, a free Christmas gift-slash-Teflon Don victory lap. But since reaching his pinnacle with 2012’s Rich Forever, oversaturation has exhausted much of what made him successful in previous years.
Rick Ross :: Black MarketSlip-N-Slide/Maybach/Def JamAuthor: Steve 'Flash' JuonEvery hip-hop fan or critic has at least one artist they recognize as an exception to the rule. You might think underground rap tries too hard to be anti-commercial but still think Atmosphere is the bomb. You might think pop rappers are too obsessed with sex, money and drugs but you still f--- with Jay-Z anyway.
In writing about Rick Ross’ new album Black Market, Stereogum’s Tom Breihan described him as a “legacy artist”, a “middle-aged rapper”. And what’s indicative of a creative entering middle age? Revisiting the triumphs of their youth, of course. For Rick Ross, his early career suggested that he could go on making maximalist fantasy-rap for albums upon albums, dependent on extravagant beats and the imagination that comes with tapping into a supply of cartoonish wealth.
For 10 years, Rick Ross was hip-hop's most indefatigable boss. Seizures? A secret past as a corrections officer? The Teflon Don brushed it all off with wry humor, obscene fantasy and a matter-of-fact rapping style that made every word sound like it was highlighted and underlined. Ross' eighth album, though, raises doubts about how he'll fare in the era of the confessional, emotionally bare rap superstar.
Brothers and sisters, I don’t know what this world is coming to. A man’s Planned Parenthood attacks threaten poor and working-class families of color, economic inequality in America is severe and growing, and protests rage in the streets over the police shooting of Laquan McDonald. What a time to be alive, indeed. Even rappers who once sat comfortably atop a throne of big-face hundreds are going through their own hard times, opening escrow accounts in their birth names, scaling down on tired drug kingpin raps, and assuming redemptive street preacher roles to better reflect a marginalized crowd.