Monday, May 6, 2013

Rick Ross 'Forgives'...

If you've been paying attention to my articles you'll see subtle cues in regards to favorite artists and/or preferences. For example I, being from the South and all, have a certain soft spot for hip-hop from that region. You will also notice that there are a few artists of whom I am rather high on. One artist who comes to mind is 2 Chainz. I could have also said Big K.R.I.T. or Kendrick Lamar here as well. But of all of them I have referenced one artist above all other.

That man is Rick Ross. And as always, insert a gutteral grunt here.

It hasn't escaped have my notice that Rick Ross, much like T.I., has yet to make a track, an album, or a mixtape that I have hated. "Aston Martin Music" still makes me vibe whenever I hear it. In much the same way "Push It" still gets me hyped in the early morning hours. And don't even get me started on the Rich Forever mixtape. "MMG The World Is Ours" will forever have my love and admiration for the amazing sounds therein.

In much the same way I expected nothing less than perfection from his much anticipated album God Forgives, I Don't. Not surprisngly, I wasn't disappointed for one moment. For seventeen tracks I was lost in his lyricism and the sound of the Florida native's style. Being that I have an inclination to share with you as my readers allow me to elucidate on the album.

"Pray For Us" is the first track. If you're a movie buff like myself you recognize the prayer as the one Peanut and Jody partake in urban cult classic Baby Boy. They even captured the drive-by perfectly. This leads us to "Pirates". It builds with triumphant sound and after that everpresent grunt hits, the beat thunders a fantastic rhythm as Ross speaks his words with conviction and eloquence. "3 Kings" is another great one to listen to. Here Ross is sandwiched well between verses by featured artists (and legendary MCs) Dr. Dre and Jay-Z. The title does the track justice as you hear the trio murder the beay as only kings can.

"Ashamed" hits me with a 1970s vibe, as if I'm in a Shaft movie. I say this because the beat seems to send me back in time to that time when we first spoke of that private dick who just so happened to be a sex machine to all the chicks. But I digress here. Ross speaks of dealing drugs, something he'll continue doing he's ashamed to say. The track is deep when you take a listen.

"Maybach Music IV" features Ne-Yo. It follows in a line of similar tracks, notable for smooth sounds and great grooves. Never one to let down listeners Ross keeps with this tradition. Kudos for staying great and consistent. "Sixteen" is a clever song with a jazzy feel. André 3000 is all ober the hook with that eclectic sound he's famous for. The concept behind the song is that sometimes when you are rapping to a particularly hot beat with an equally hot concept, maybe sixteen bars isn't enough. There is a moment when André 3000 raps beyond the beat, seeming to confirm the concept of the song. Clever, right?

Next we move to "Amsterdam", a track with an uncredited feature by MMG songtress Teedra Moses. Her vocals add to soulful sort of vibe I find myself getting from this track. The word (or rather name) Amsterdam refers to marijuana, a drug that is more than legal in the aforementioned city. "Hold Me Back" is pretty cut and dry, in my opinion. Ross repeats how both 'these hos and these niggas' cannot (raher will not) hold him back. This is your typcial song about grinding done well by Ross. "911" has a similar sound in its production so it feels almost like a follow-up, which I find myself appreciating. Based on the title and the use of Darwin's survival of the fittest as a punchline, I believe the title referred to calling the ambulances after a shooting. But refers to a 911 Carrera Porsche.

The last three songs were mostly dominated by Ross' vocals. The next three make the return to features. That first begins with so "So Sophisticated". With the drums loud Ross raps about his "sophistication", something that I imagine speaks more to his status in the hip-hop game as opposed to any caviar, furs, or mansions. Meek Mill comes through with another of those amazing verses that I love from him. "Presidential" features singer Elijah Blake. This song seems geared towards his woman as he [Ross] and Blake tell her just how special, how 'presidential' she truly is. The beat is different than what you'd expect but it works. "Ice Cold" is drum heavy and features the newest member of the MMG  family, Omarion. (I have a problem calling him Maybach O, so I won't). Omarion's vocals do not seemed to have diminished in the slightest. They play a good counterpoint to Ross' bombastic rapping on this one. I silently feel the title is a slick reference to Omarion's "Ice Box" days.

Usher and Rick Ross come together to make "Touch'n You". Usher is always a good choice and he fits well with Ross on this one. With his ad libs and vocals behind Ross' rhymes the track floats. The beat is driving and has those accents that make it a perfect sort of track for the two.

Now we move on to my two favorite tracks.

The first is the very popular "Diced Pineapples". I would like it noted I loved this (and the song that follows) before either were released as singles. That being said, we move on. This paino laden track has a cool something about it. Wale, who I haven't really been too big on as of late, murders a poetic intro to this one. Ross then comes in with that cool swagger laced through his verses. An amazing hook is left to the incomparable (and often insulted) Drake. Something about his R & B side fits well here. You can hear his vocal acrobatics behind Ross as he speaks of his goddess. We hear from Wale again as he comes through with the final verse. It is actually one of my favorite verses of his since his debut album.

Without a doubt "Ten Jesus Pieces" is my favorite of the album. The track gives me the feel of film noir in the modern age with a urban grit laced into it. The storytelling here is honest and utterly amazed. For most of the verses Ross raps over drums and a sultry saxophone. The hook gets me every time.

I do this for my niggas facing hard times/Can't be on them corners if you hustling part-time/Ten chains on, Eric B with mob ties/Rakim flows coming from the far side/Blood diamonds in my pieces from apartheid/Quick to quote a prayer, pull it from the archives/I pray for every soul that this music reaches/Bury me a G, ten Jesus pieces

MMG artist (and a personal favorite) Stalley comes through on the track and adheres well to the vibe of this amazing track. This one is powerful.

"Triple Beam Dreams" plays with an ominous sort of beat. Nas and Rick Ross come together again for this one. As before their voices mesh well together. The theme is the dreams of using drugs to get beyond the horrible circumstances of their environments.

"Rich Forever" is a rag to riches story with John Legend vocalizing and giving you the hook in that way that only he can. For me this another of those really personal track masquerading as a a simple hip-hop track. I love everything about it from vocals to production.

The only thing left to say about this album is that if you're not listening to it, I utterly have no idea what it is you're doing with your musical life. Really don't.

written by

Lucius Black for Royalty Magazine

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