Rating: 8 / 10
Lyrics, music, styles, and personas don’t change for Rick Ross; they just get bigger. God Forgives, I Don’t, his 4th studio album, sees a growth in production, themes, lyrics, and features- literally, things have grown bigger. This album sounds larger than life at times, always centering around the topic of braggadocio, inspired tales. And, while this may sound like a normal topic in Hip-Hop, no one quite articulates the extravagance of flossing in a Maybach like Rick Ross.
The album has two instances of excellence: “3 Kings” and “Sixteen”. The first features Dr. Dre on the first verse for more presence than ability, coupled with Ross providing a capable slew of rhymes after him. However, Jay-Z steals the show on the third verse; he gives the most bars, boasting about his daughter’s accessories, as well as his own. Songs with so much firepower on paper sometimes fizzle out, but “Kings” certainly provides a show; and as triumphant as the song is, is how intriguing and captivating “Sixteen” proves to be. Again, Ross lays down a notable verse only to be upstaged by the illustrious Andre 3000, flowing on and on about, what sounds like brilliant, whatever-comes-to-mind references, including lusting for his neighbor, Flipper the dolphin, and Greek Gods. 3 Stacks knows no bounds here, ending with a guitar solo that can be described as nothing else but awesome.
For the most part, the record is filled with quality songs. “Maybach Music IV” continues the ongoing saga with a smoothed out, passing cut, though “Amsterdam” proves to be a better approach to a relaxed vibe, exploring themes of escapism through a hazy instrumental. “Ashamed” relies on a rich sample-based beat to carry it, while “Presidential” has an innovative, fresh bounce only Pharrell could cook up. Moving forward, “So Sophisticated” and “Hold Me Back” both boast ignorant, loud bass and brash lyrics; the former with Meek Mill, and the latter more open to criticism than the first. On the opposite side of the spectrum, “Touch’n You” with Usher is sure to be a favorite among the ladies, as will “Diced Pineapples”– with a spoken word intro and feature from Wale and hook from Drake. There is little room for error here. The production on GFID is always excellent, and propels average songs to higher levels; though, on this latest album more than ever, Ross has demonstrated improvement as a rapper and showcased that he can carry a beat all on his own.
After working himself into two seizures, I think improvement was a necessary outcome for Rick Ross. Turning his Maybach Music brand into a feared rap collective seems to have matured him as an artist. On one hand, it’s still about the cars and women, but the music is better, more soulful, his rhymes are more focused, and his beat selection has improved from great to divine. In addition, he still gets the best guest features, hand down. The ‘boss’ persona Rick Ross has created for himself is coming more and more to fruition. Missteps on God Forgives, I Don’t are few and far between, and the bravado this album evokes will make you want to light a cigar – even if you don’t smoke.