Artist: Rick RossTitle: Port Of MiamiRating: 3 StarsReviewed by: Jamiyl "J Boogie" Samuels
Rick Ross was already big in Miami before he signed the dotted line of his Slip N' Slide/Def Jam record deal. Being co-signed by President Carter was the culmination of years of hustle, as conveyed on his smash debut single "Hustlin'". The recognizable sample and cryptic organ burned up radio throughout the first and second quarters of '06, spawning a remix and building anticipation for Ross' debut Port Of Miami (Slip N' Slide/Def Jam). At the beginning of the video to the aforementioned single, Ross informs the viewer that there is a bridge that separates the fun and games of South Beach, Miami from the "real" Miami. Port Of Miami is life on the wrong side of that bridge.
The fact that this CD drops just weeks after the release of the feature film version of the 8's crime drama "Miami Vice" is ironic. The listener is instantly transported to the aforementioned era on the first track "Push It", which utilizes the theme from Scarface. The listener is sent further into a time warp with the S.W.A.T. sampling "I'm Bad" to great results. Ross rides the aggressive bass line superbly as he boasts, I'm bad I'm back... The third verse finds him making an acronym of the word "Bad" repeatedly giving a different meaning to each letter, deviating from this formula at the end of the verse to quip, Laying on your back like you posing for a ho/Acting like a b*tch gotta go gotta go>. Hip-Hop lovers who remember L.L. Cool J-s version will appreciate the intro to this song. The best track on the album is "Boss". Produced by Dre (of Cool n Dre), this potential end of summer anthem is borderline uplifting in its message to "do watchu like" and be your own boss. Ross spits confidently over driving synths making this a two mile an hour cruising classic in the making.
"Boss" ends the first third of the disc and this is where the CD loses some of its steam. The car and drug references get monotonous, as does the production on tracks like "Pots And Pans", "I'm A G", and "It's My Time". "Where My Money (I Need That)" is basically "Hustlin; Part 3" complete with organ. The Big Reese-produced "Street Life" sounds elementary, and that says nothing of the formulaic hook provided by Lloyd. There are no political inclinations on "White House" as Ross simply states, We in the White House/I call the shots I can get your ass wiped out. Ross throws a decent bone to the ladies on the Mario Winans-helmed "Get Away", but follows that up with the crass "Hit U From The Back". Ross confesses his true love is not women on "Get Away": I'm into heavy dough I don't kiss every ho/So when I need a bitch I enlist Mario.
Ross doesnt blow you away lyrically, but he doesn't have to. Listening to the burly rapper you feel like you are getting the story of his life set to music. The majority of the production caters to his laid back drawl, however the lackadaisical pace over 19 tracks may lose some listeners. Overall, Port Of Miami is a good debut from the Carol City rep, though to avoid a sophomore slump Ross may want to either diversify his subject matter or trim down the track listing, or both.