(While reading, purchase Mastermind here)
It may not seem like it, but Rick Ross has been a prominent figure in Hip Hop for over eight years now. With his own record label, multiple business ventures, and lyricism that many fear and respect at the same time, Ross has proved that he truly is a mastermind in his own right. As seen on this album, Ross proves himself over again in a new, unique, and revealing way.
1. Intro: The idea of Rick Ross being a Mastermind is shown once one hits play on the album. This introduction includes snippets of his several hit records including Push It and Hustlin. The end of the track also features words of wisdom from author Napoleon Hill.
2. Rich Is Gangsta: Mastermind officially begins with this song, which sounds like the perfect opening to an album, concert, or even a movie! The lyrics are embedded with a lot of topics including shoutouts to his MMG artists Meek Mill and Wale, along with making fun of the point that he doesn’t need any feud with 50 Cent to help his success.
3. Drug Dealers Dream: On this track, Ross shows that he is not afraid to touch on issues that affect him and almost took his life.
4. Shots Fired: This interlude is a continuation of Drug Dealers Dream which features official news reports, alluding to the 2013 incident where fires were shot at Ross’ truck, leading the car to be crashed and Ross almost losing his life. While many in rap want to brag about guns and violence, Ross has documented evidence in both his rhymes and life that he knows a multitude about these topics.
5. Nobody (featuring French Montana): Ironically with Biggie’s passing in the month of March and Mastermind being released in the same month, Ross conjures up a classic sample from The Notorious BIG himself. French Montana sings this classic hook with the haunting message: “you’re nobody, ’till somebody kills you”.
6. The Devil Is A Lie (featuring Jay Z): The two elders in the industry, team up for the lead single off Mastermind Most lyrical, complex rap records don’t make radio and this proves why. Most can not or do not want to sit down and break down the complexity of the lyricism in this record, but as a true hip hop fan, this record is highly appreciated, for it’s breaking away on raps about cliché themes.
7. Mafia Music III (featuring Sizzla & Mavado): A straight lyrical record, where Ross creates memorable line after memorable line. Referencing Kim and Kanye’s relationship, along with, again, shouting out Meek Mill and Wale, reggae fans will enjoy this track due to its’ incredible island feeling.
8. War Ready (featuring Young Jeezy): At first listen has a similar flow to Future’s Sh!t, but the lyrical content is absolutely different, where the beef whomever Rick Ross has with, is one that will escalate to a full pledge war, and in war, somebody inevitably has to die.
9. What a Shame (featuring French Montana): French Montana gets another feature on Mastermind, but this time he is able to show off his lyrical skills. A New York-esque, head bobbing track, Ross again is not afraid to prove that he is ready at any time, for either getting money or busting off a cap or two.
10. Supreme: A Scott Stoch production which includes a Katt Williams skit and a Keith Sweat feature. Honestly, do I really need to say more?
11. BLK & WHT: After a moment of feel good music on Mastermind, Rick Ross turns back to the serious mode as he tells the story of an African-American selling cocaine, a theme that is growing strong in Rap these days.
12: Dope B***h (skit): Basic bishes and goldiggers describing how they are not a basic bish and what makes a boss bish.
13. In Vein (featuring The Weeknd): A surprising feature comes on the form of The Weeknd with this record. As The Weekend softly sings in the beginning, Rick Ross comes in to describe how they have made it, and with their success they can afford to enjoy the pleasures of the green, pill, and liquor life.
14. Sanctified (featuring Big Sean & Kanye West): Mastermind takes us to church on this track-well kind of. With gut-wrenching vocals from Betty Wright, all three rappers, Rick Ross, Big Sean, and Kanye West hold their own, staying true to their unique personas.
Sidenote: How come Big Sean can provide better bars on someone else’s record than he does his own?
15. Walkin’ On Air (featuring Meek Mill): Of course a Rick Ross record would not be complete without a feature from one of his artists. On this track, the over-hyped Meek Mill makes an appearance as this track is perfect to get you hype for the gym, your mediocre job, or just life itself.
16. Thug Cry (featuring Lil’ Wayne): A classic Rap record just has a certain vibe to it that you can not fully explain. You just feel the sample, the production, and lyrics, which ultimately resonates with you. This track is one of those where fans get the classic Lil Wayne as the two artists end Mastermind, showing that thugs cry too.
I will be the first to say that I am not and have not been an avid follower of Rick Ross’ career, but I must say that this album was stellar from beginning to end. Though it is still early in the year, Mastermind has the potential to be one of the best albums of 2014. With solid production and memorable lines, Mastermind takes a unique spin on the cliché themes around in Rap, for Ross has actually been about that life. Overall, I was thoroughly impressed, so if you have been a long-time Ross fan, your heartbeat for Rap will be revived.
Personal Favorites: War Ready (featuring Young Jeezy), Supreme, In Vein (featuring the Weeknd), Sanctified (featuring Big Sean & Kanye West)
Be sure to check out Mastermind on iTunes here.