As the saga that is Rick Ross' life continues, "the Bawse" has unloaded yet another dope album for fans of the Miami hustler turned international rap star. On the project, Ross maintains his impenetrable armor that has been tested over the years, and that is still respected in the streets.
At one point in Ross' career, his background was questioned, but it seems as if listeners have ignored his past and embraced his winning pedigree over the years. Although he stays in headlines for beef with 50 Cent, drama with his fiancé Lira Galore, legal issues with the real Rick Ross and an ongoing internal MMG beef, Ross is a pillar in Hip-Hop that commands attention.
In listening to just the first 5 songs of the album, Ross sets a precedence for this project that even Drake should pay attention to, because Ross is taking shots all through this project - if you pay attention. And, while his last projects Mastermind and Hood Billionaire seemed to be ones to keep the labels happy, this project is another tally in the "W" column for Ross and his MMG imprint - he took this one seriously.
Ross has grown up, and you can hear it in his lyrics, making songs for his mother, rapping lines about his future wife and even dropping lines about living a promethazine-free life after the medicine caused him seizures.
Throughout the process of recording this project Ross was incarcerated for three weeks and you can hear it in his raps. As Ross eluded to in interviews, his incarceration seemed to clarify and humble him.
"There's a lot of sh*t that I wrote and a lot of sh*t that I thought about. I came back out and scrapped a lot of music and I recorded some dope songs, but my first day home I recorded six records," Ross told Billboard in November.
You can hear Ross' grandeur on the first few songs of the effort as Ross kicks off the project nicely with "Free Enterprise" featuring John Legend and "Smile Mama, Smile" featuring CeeLo Green, produced by Jake One.
"One of Us" produces another great collab with Nas and Rozay and "Silk Road" glares through the speakers like classic Ross music - refined, boss-like and timeless.
On track number six things take an unusual turn, as Ross titles the song "Dope Dick." It's not really a song that you can tell the homies to check out, but Ross does make a host of songs for females on the latter half of this project, so we will throw that "Dope Dick" song their way.
After track six (I can't even say the title), we get the EPIC "Crocodile Python" joint that seems like it will bang in Hip-Hop fans speakers for years to come.
"Ghostwriter" seems to take shots at Drake if you really pay attention. Even though he has addressed Drake on "Color Money," without saying names, lets not forget that Meek felt the need to diss Drake for not writing his own material.
"Lyrics they recite these are words I own / Every album that I made I did it on my own" - Rick Ross - "Ghostwriter"
"I had a lot of time to just sit by myself, so I had a lot more things I wanted to address. That’s what I did on this LP. I spoke on different things. One of them goes by the name of “Ghostwriter.” I finally wrote a record telling the way it feels for me to be a ghostwriter, and not only a ghostwriter, but one of the biggest in the rap game. Because of my own personal success I’ve always been able to keep that in the shadows. On this record, I just felt it was so current. It was needed," Ross told Time Magazine.
Rick Ross's "Black Market" Listening Party 2015
"Dreamchaser you fuck with Meek you gotta fuck with Coon, them my goons, DC carve it in my tomb." - Rick Ross - "Black Opium" ft DJ Premier
Ross makes it abundantly clear that he writes ALL of his own material and then some. Combine that with "Color Money," jabs on "Foreclosures" and theres no denying that Ross is going after Drake on this project in multiple ways. How can a boss let something like that slide? You can't diss the crew and not expect a reply. Not picking sides here, but at the end of the day, Meek signed to Ross and Drake ate him up, which in turn eats at Rozay's pockets, and you know the boss it trying to eat. A reply was 100% needed and Drake got one.
“Color money got your b*tch out on a world tour / My lil’ homie made a million on his girl’s tour / We back to back and down to wack a n*ggas unborn / Miami n*ggas got ’em changin’ all they gun laws / So run Forrest, got some shooters and they down, too / I got more money than that pussy that you signed to.” - Rick Ross - "Color Money"
"Sorry" is a track that hypes up the drama of women in Ross' life. It's an issue that everyone can probably relate to in some way, especially Chris Brown on the hook who is seemingly singing to Karrueche Tran.
When you add in the DJ Premier production, a Future track for the turn up, "Money Dance" ft The Dream and "Very Best" ft Mary J Blidge, this is a well rounded effort. You gotta give it to Ross he's put together some bangers, and while there are a few tracks we could do without ("Peace Sign"), overall its a slapper.
"Foreclosures" will be a slept on record, but there are some gems on there, as well as "Carol City" that give clues on Ross and his game plan. You gotta read between the lines.
"I never took an L back when Meek fell, just drove the numbers all the way back up in retail." - Rick Ross - "Foreclosures"
Features and guest appearances include: John Legend, CeeLo Green,Nas, DJ Premier, Mariah Carey, Mary J. Blige, Chris Brown, Future and The Dream, but really there's not too many features as most of the features are on the hooks.
This project was important, not only for Ross, but for MMG. Tally one for Ross and MMG. OVO the ball is in your court. Buy it here via iTunes: Rick Ross - Black Market
8.5 /10 Overall
Replay Value: 9/10
Overall Rating: 8.5/10
Standout Tracks: "Free Enterprise," "Color Money," "Silk Road," "Crocodile Python," "D.O.P.E."