rick ross and co. shine on mastermind

Prior to immersing myself in Rick Ross’ new Mastermind album, I followed my album listening habits, and dove in with an open mind.  I’ve been listening to hip-hop music since elementary school, realizing my true passions at an early age.  I can’t pinpoint exactly what drew me into the genre, but I knew that I was infatuated with it.  Maybe it was the fact that my cousin had the Parental Advisory CDs that I desperately wanted, or how the beats forced my head to bob from side-to-side throughout an entire song.

Either way, I knew it was a style of music that I would love forever, and that admiration has only strengthened throughout the years.  That being said, my tastes are very particular when it comes to my favorite genre, but I am always willing to give the music a listen.  So, when Rick Ross dropped his sixth studio album Mastermind this past week, I was obviously going to give it a try.

From the opening title track, Rich is Gangsta, it was apparent which direction Ross was heading.  Never one to shy away from flaunting his status as an American rap artist, Rick Ross has brought a certain swagger since day one.  So, it was no different seeing Ross follow suit on his opening track by pronouncing, “If you love hip-hop, bust two shots.”  With a catchy chorus backing the rapper’s vocals, Rich is Gangsta sets the tone forMastermind, and gives fans that vintage Rick Ross sound that they’ve come to love throughout the years.   Moving right along to the deluxe album’s fifth track, Nobody features both Puff Daddy aka Diddy and French Montana.  The track begins with Diddy barking about life’s journey and its daily struggles, and he really sets the tone on this one.

While many seem to view entertainers as overnight success stories, I think Diddy brings some reality into the picture here. If you’re willing to go through the dark days to make it to success, then there is light at the end of the tunnel.   With success, comes great scrutiny and pressure, but the difficulty of the journey is always worth the outcome.  With a great hook by French Montana sampled from the late Notorious B.I.G., Nobody keeps the pace going on Mastermind, and serves as the bridging track for the Jay Z assisted single, Devil is a Lie.  

When this single dropped last month, I knew avid hip-hop fans were in for something special.  While #F***witmeyouknowigotit continues to dominate speaker systems around the world, lyrically, it may not have been the duo’s best track ever.  Don’t get me wrong, it was one of my favorite tracks off Jay’s Magna Carta album, but as we see here on Ross’ sixth studio album, Devil is a Lie, seems to set the bar a little higher.  With another incredible beat to accompany these two, Ross and Hova flex their muscles here, and display their great chemistry as well.  There’s just something about two rappers coming together on a track, especially when it works, and Devil is a Lie does just that.  In fact, it works very well.

With an incredibly smooth beat backing the Miami rapper, Mafia Music III, serves as a nice follow-up to the prior Jay Z assisted track.  Ross shines like a diamond on these rhythms, and demonstrates why he is such a silky rapper.  With lines like, “Bill Belicheck, coaching and callin’ the shots,” Ross has never had a problem sounding so cool on the microphone.

Continuing this cool rapping approach, Ross brings that same adjective to Mastermind’s tenth track titled,Supreme.  While bringing that South Beach vibe to the record, Ross addresses his Illuminati skeptics and dishes out a great track.  While comparing himself to NBA all-star John Wall, Ross exclaims, “Big numbers, I’m John Wall, I’m ballin’ tonight.”  Although not quite in the same athletic shape as the Washington Wizards starting point guard, I’m sure Ross knows that we understand the metaphor here.  Moving right along to Blk & Wht, Ross continues to impress on the catchy hook and beat, while displaying an interesting singing ability throughout; a style in which fans might be quite unfamiliar.

However, it works here andMastermind continues with The Weeknd assisted track, In Vein. Personally, I love what The Weekend brings to the track, as his soothing, unique voice seems to add a little something to Ross’ deep undertones on this one.  The Weeknd possesses that ability throughout his entire musical catalog, and really lets it shine throughout In Vein.  With a star-studded cast backing Ross on his next track, Sanctified,comes in a number 14 on the deluxe version of Mastermind. With Big Sean chiming in with the hook on the record, I think it’s safe to say that Yeezus and Ross have really developed a great chemistry throughout the years.

‘Ye really struts his stuff here as he proclaims,  “But when Ali turn up and be Ali, you can’t never take that back to Cassius.”  As we progress throughout the album, it’s hard for me not to put the Lil’ Wayne assisted, Thug Cry at the top of my list.  While sampling Souls of Mischief’s classic hip-hop record, “93 Til Infinity,” Wayne and Ross continue their affinity on the microphone, and complete Mastermind on the right note.  Finishing off the deluxe album with three more tracks, including the You Know I Got It (Reprise), Rick Ross gives fans some extra love for purchasing the deluxe edition of his sixth studio album.  While Rick Ross has his haters in the game, I’ve got to tip my hat to him on this one with the solid production, smooth flow throughout, and great features to top off Mastermind.  Rick Ross shows why he’s so relevant in the rap game today, and brings a little treat to the table for every hip-hop fan out there today.

Mastermind Rating: 8/10