Release Date: Jan 6, 2012
Record label: Maybach Music
While his next official album ripens in the blazing South Florida sunshine, Rick Ross has delivered a delicious appetite-whetter. Rich Forever is a mixtape that plays like an album, with blaring, heraldic production by the likes of Boi-1da and up-and-comer Beat Billionaire, plus guest appearances by Drake, Nas and Diddy. Themewise, Rich Forever is business as usual – which is to say, all business.
With both Rick Ross and star producer du jour Lex Luger at the top of the rap game, it's easy to forget how much of the former's career is now owed to the latter. Ross was a successful artist before he ever hooked up with Luger, but his stunning transition from begrudgingly accepted popular rapper to one of the genre's most respected artists can basically be traced directly back to Luger's beat for "B.M.F. (Blowin' Money Fast)", the song that will go down as the indelible single of Ross' career.
If nothing else, the first quarter of 2012 is going to provide a handy referendum on just how much Rick Ross’ stock is worth these days. The past three years have seen the Maybach Music imprint refine itself into an assembly line-like process, as Ross has proven the method of releasing a mixtape of leftovers right before the album to be a real fan pleaser. Wale did it, Meek Mill is working on doing it, Pill (my favorite of the three before his ill-fated stint here) couldn’t figure it out, and it remains to be seen what becomes of the outsider Stalley.
The first thing to know about Rick Ross’ new Rich Forever mixtape is that it doesn’t sound like a mixtape that he should be making at this sky-high point in his career’s arc. Unless it’s financed enough to replace a full-length album, the average rap mixtape nowadays suffers markedly from poor mastering and/or lack of focus. Rich Forever doesn’t face either of those problems; it sounds nuanced, labored-over, expensive, and expansive.
Rick Ross is definitely in his zone. In the past three years, the Bawse has dropped a steady string of strong full-length solo releases (Deeper Than Rap, Teflon Don), crew LPs (Triple C’s’s Custom Cars & Cycles, Maybach Music Group’s Self Made, Vol. 1) and mixtapes (The Albert Anastasia EP, Ashes to Ashes). His latest mixtape, Rich Forever— hosted by DJ Scream and XXL‘s own Shaheem Reid— is a teaser to hold Rozay fans down in anticipation for his next LP, God Forgives, I Don’t and Self Made, Vol.
It’s been so long since the once-legendary rapper Nas lived up to the promise of his early albums that the base expectation for his new music is disappointment. So it’s been jarring recently to hear him on Hot 97 (97.1 FM in New York), on a new song, sounding like the rapper he was in the mid-1990s: wise, with a sharp eye for detail; pouring phrases together in dizzying jumbles; and showing off the pain that throbs beneath the calluses formed by years of exposure to the streets. How did Nas leap from confused elder statesman back to sage corner-boy chronicler? All it took was Rick Ross, hip-hop’s great fantasist.
Ross continues to count the cash on this high-profile mixtape release. Adam Kennedy 2012 Reversing 21st century trends transforming the once-humble mixtape into glossy adverts for forthcoming albums, this between-albums outing from bearded Miami kingpin Rick Ross is arguably his magnum opus to date. With a coherency out of whack with its free download status, however, Rich Forever isn't all diamonds in the rough.