“Now here are some interesting facts about the mastermind which give you an idea of how important it is and how necessary that you embrace this principal and make use of it in attaining success in your chosen occupation.”
Dropping his sixth studio album on Tuesday, March 4th, Rick Ross continues his streak of releasing quality projects with the feature-heavy Mastermind. Returning to a more soulful approach with this project, Ross retreats from the trap heavy sounds of God Forgives and I Don’t, and gives us the luxury rap we’ve been missing. While there has been much debated about Officer Ricky over the years, the Teflon Don has remained unmoved to the slander; remaining one of the few rappers to consistently release eminence into the game. Mastermind, with it’s album skits, cohesive production, and loaded features, is everything you’d expect and enjoy from the head of MMG.
It’s been long established that lyricism is not a strong feature of any Ross project. Nonetheless, Mastermind does possess what every other successful Rozay record has: production, persona, and presence. The Roy Ayers sample on the Black Metaphor produced, “Rich is Gangsta” set the score for the project; making it the perfect opening track. The skit featuring Puffy chewing out (probably) some poor intern on the self-produced “Nobody” captures the perfect essence of what a song from Diddy, French Montana, and Rick Ross should sound like. As a nod to his Miami roots, Ross includes a track with Mavado and Sizzla; but unlike his previous reggae influenced success “Yacht Club”, “Mafia Music III” just doesn’t get it done. With the exception of this and a few other opening tracks, pretty much every song on the album has significant replay value.
In terms of presence: Rick Ross has never been one to shy away from features, and this is a fact that needs acceptance. Of sixteen tracks, only four of them feature him solo, and incidentally they aren’t the memorable tracks. As a distraction from the mediocre lyrics and passé content, Rozay hosts Jeezy (War Ready), French Montana (Nobody, What a Shame), The Weekend (In the Vein), Kanye and Big Sean (Sanctified), and Lil Wayne (Thug Cry). Kanye produced Sanctified, which depending on your expectations may be slightly off-putting for this project. Bonus points however, for including a track with two Texas legends: Scarface and Z-Ro. (Blessing in Disguise– available on the deluxe version.) French manages to do his job on both of his features; both tracks adding their own audio aesthetic to the album. In addition to the artist features, Ross blesses us with a rare Scott Storch sighting (hearing?) on “Supreme,” further contributing to the Trilla/Deeper than Rap vibes coming from this album.
As far as persona goes, that’s Rozay’s bread and butter. We can all debate as to whether Rick Ross has the proper “street cred” for his content; but we can’t deny we won’t listen. Upon news that the album would be streamed on ITunes prior to its release, Twitter went erupt with critiques, reviews, and general thoughts about the project. One of the reasons why he’s made it to six albums is that Rick Ross knows how to sell his persona on a track. Songs like “Blk & White”, “Shots Fired”, “In Vein”, and “Blessing in Disguise” could all easily over shadow Ross’s content thru production, or features, Ross however, thru his adlibs, flow, and voice, still manages to more than hold his own.
For most avid hip-hop fans, Rick Ross may or may not be high on the best rappers of all time list. However, if Mastermind proves one thing; it’s that Rick Ross is not only good, but he’s also a talented artist. No matter how you feel about it.
“Blk & White”, “Nobody”, “Rich is Gangsta”, “In Vein”, “Sanctified”