Peace and Blessings good people and the rest of you. It’s Lito, your Friendly-Neighborhood Music-Man here again with another album review. I sometimes listen to whack s*** so you don’t have to, but boys and girls today I have the satisfaction of reviewing one of the biggest bosses you’ve seen this far. He’s a guy I consider to have one of the most consistently impressive catalogs in the annals of hip-hop. I battled the impulse to snatch a 10-piece lemon pepper from Wingstop to compose this review of Richer Than I Ever Been.
This is the 11th studio album by Maybach Music Group CEO Rick Ross. The album was highly anticipated. I have had December 10th circled on my calendar since the album was confirmed. Let’s dive right in.
Little Havana ( feat. Willie Falcon & The Dream)
“Little Havana” is a strong intro track. Here we find cocaine kingpin Willie Falcon providing the knowledge of the cocaine rundown from his three-generation run in his Miami glory days while thanking Rickey for his support. The Dream excels in his supporting role harmonizing over bars while Ross casually weaves in and out of the pocket of the track.
Ross and The Dream—who are a dream team (please do not throw tomatoes at me)—have amazing chemistry. Ross’s wordplay is sharp as a Ginsu blade here. He’s very forthcoming and doesn’t shy away from addressing the ongoing controversy with his MMG artist Meek Mill, who is rumored to have denied Ross entry to his birthday party in Miami.
Ross gets his point across that MMG is still untouchable. The song is super groovy embellishment rap, drizzled with gravity.
Set em up like 2pac, get ‘em to rob ‘em
I always loved BIG, shit, I did it big
I released Omarion, he began to fizz
Double M the kids, now we back to biz’
Thirty-six a brick, baby here it is
My n***** in designer but we militant
I got the city on my back that’s just what it is
Hard. Do you hear me? Hard. This is that “I was wearing a mask year-round before COVID” kind of music.
The track is scolding hot. It’s produced by the legendary Timbaland. Not sure how Ross got him to retreat to hip-hop amid his ongoing Verzuz bag, but goddamn it Timb, thank you for your service. The song is quick, grimy, and to the point. We encounter Young Renzel in his bag talking cash money sh** giving rise to the listener feeling poor and useless. This is just how I like my rap, *chef’s kiss*. Hell, we even got a Bubba Sparxx reference.
I’m thankful for melodies that the song bring
Rhymin’ longer than prison sentences in New Orleans
My n**** did a dub, now he at the fed
Shit, it’s hard to feel the love when you takin’ meds
Them Percocets, they heavy on the ledge
Twenty million cash, yes, that’s called success
Rapper Estates (feat. Benny The Butcher)
Boi-1da, Vinylz, and Coleman went absolutely mad on this production. Hands down the best song on the album and it’s not even close. That doesn’t curtail the light to any of the other songs but this joint is special. This is what the streets would call “big boy rap.” I’ve been evangelizing from the gospel of Benny the Butcher since 2017. I am always excited to see him get big placements. Benny enters with the track dropping out with nothing but trumpets blaring. It feels like a victory lap. Ross does not take the Butcher lightly and the result is the ultimate in bar craftsmanship. Thank you, Ross. Thank you, Butcher.
Standout bars: I tried but I can’t in good conscience pick a bar. It’s like picking a favorite child. The entire song is a standout.
One thing about Rickey: he has one of the greatest ears for music production in hip-hop history. The track feels like a dream; it’s an audio masterpiece. I visualize a warm day in Miami pulling out the cigarette boats, relishing this manifestation coming to reality. Ross, never one to shy away from social unrest and racist politicians, eviscerated the track with intense lines varying from bars about Ronald Reagan to George Floyd. He found time to clarify why he sold drugs because, as he saw it, America provided no other way out. Naming the track after the slogan of the late Nipsey Hussle. Rest In Peace Nipsey Tha Great! Rest In Peace George Floyd!
Judas was a politician, made up like a Ronald Reagan
This is just a war on drugs, tell me how you feel about it
Black lives really matter now, tell Emmett Till about it
George Floyd was face down as you n***** stood around it
Did your little FaceTimes, left the neighborhood astounded
Warm Words in a Cold World (feat. Wale & Future)
Another tremendous track, this one produced by Bink. Ross and Wale have stellar verses on the song. No surprise there. The aspect that stood out to me was Future actually rapped. Usually, it’s harmony over autotune but this time Pluto brought out his choppy rap flow. The chorus is chill as hell. Ross maintains the player vibes his voice turns to syrup glazing the track.
Stand out bars:
N***** bearing arms for real, this shit like Soldier Field
And everything I’ve achieved was really off of skill
And everything they’ve received was on somebody bill
Blog era supervillain, I been hard to kill
Cannot be stopped ’til I turn this block into atom-ville
Olu, the pretty broads go too
I make them jawns get it together like seven-oh-two
Wiggle (feat. Dreamdoll)
The first club/radio joint of the album. This song isn’t necessarily for me, but I understand why it was made, I appreciate it, and I think once the visuals come out the song will be everywhere. The song features Dreamdoll, who, other than her diss to Tory Lanez, I wasn’t too familiar with. She impressed me with her tone, wittiness, and capacity to command while rapping. Also Sam Sneak, Lyle Leduff, and Don Cannon did an outstanding job lending fresh life to Juvenile’s “In My Life” which was produced by Mannie Fresh.
Wrist bussin’, disgusting, my shit is frostbit
Ms. Mamas in that Maybach, and this ain’t Ross shit
On a big yachty, not a little boat
My b****** fuck with Cohiba’s and do a little coke
Can’t Be Broke (feat. Youngeen Ace & Major Nine)
I understand the sentiment of the song but it’s my least favorite on the album. The verses are fine but the chorus doesn’t hold me. The song feels less opulent than the rest of the album. Sort of out of theme for me. The instrumental is promising. I’ll spin it a few more times and it may grow on me.
Standout bars: Throws hands up
Made It Out Alive (feat. Blxst)
Woo, the album got right back on track! This is how you bounce back. Blxst sang that s*** bruh. The chorus is amazingly well composed and administered. I got chills. The hair on my arm stood up. The words give the feeling of desperation. Ross’s tone is urgent; he spits stories of suffering and the obstacles that come with ascending out of the misery Black Americans are systematically born into. It’s a powerful song. *insert Ross grunt*
War stories, my mama made it through the Holocaust
Candle burnin’, the people came, they cut the power off
Full of hatred, then come the questions, is the family Satan?
Everybody gotta show they hands, trust me, be patient
Negativity grow like weeds in the flower bed
Outlawz (feat. Jazmine Sullivan & 21 Savage)
Much like the vocalist on the aforementioned song, Jazmine Sullivan, understood the assignment and fulfilled it flawlessly. She could slice a breeze in half with her voice if she decided to. This song also features the monotone legend 21 Savage and he does an outstanding job illustrating portraits of the bleakness of existence in the streets.
Stand out bars:
I start park, drive and put it in reverse with my heat
Pistol talkin’ back, I think I heard it cursin’ at me
It say “You better not fuck a bitch or write a verse without me”
The streets left me scarred
Nigga, I’m bleedin’, but it’s concrete showing
So the karma don’t catch up with me, I keep going
Imperial High is one of those rap songs about nothing that’s actually about everything at the same time. Once I listened to Ross call himself King of kings, a black Rothschild, I understood we were in for 3:22 of excellence. It’s Brilliant, gritty, and with aristocracy and elite wordplay. The anecdotes scribed in this song feel like a movie. Ross is one of the most colorful authors of our time. I promise I can vividly see every declaration that is recited in these bars. This song is remarkable craftsmanship. Ross is untouchable when he is in this mode. DJ Toomp was outside of his mind when he formulated this track.
I watch how you speak, I listen to your tone
The watches that you wear, this different time zones
Crispy calamari, tears for the foes
Murder undercover strip from your clothes
Coupes for the curbs, suicide doors
Suits to be served for the drug lords
Clubs full of haters, tips for the waiters
Body count, AK-47’s made us
Bal Harbour shops, ninety in a knot
In Design District, boy, you see me at the top
Richer Than I Ever Been
The chorus is merely Ross reiterating “Richer Than I Ever Been,” which, while true, probably doesn’t sound riveting. But hearing it is kinda like getting lost in hypnosis or mantra. You’ll find yourself reciting Ross’ rhythmic declarations of “richer than I ever been,” but saying this into the cosmos for yourself. This is your destiny, Ross is saying to all of us, but goddamnit you gotta work for it. Driving and heeding Ross can make your Honda feel like a Maybach. Thank you, Ross. Today is absolutely the richest I’ve ever been.
The richest that I ever been, richest that I ever been
Time to get a bigger Benz
The richest that I ever been, richer than I ever been
Hella Smoke (feat. Wiz Khalifa)
We reached the end of the album. The last song is purely a vibe. It just feels nice. No meaning or substance here, however Ross per usual drips treasures. Wiz Khalifa makes an appearance and he does a nice job keeping things pushing along. Wiz fit in well.
Eight-figure n****, who could ever dream?
Never sold his soul with so much self-esteem
Hanging out a racecar when I became a meme
Hella smoke, I take a knee before I roll the weed
I love the album. Ross’ consistency demonstrates that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. This is luxurious coke rap, saturated with bars about commemorating black strength, nudging us to ownership, and standing devoted to your community. The album’s pretty feature-heavy and they commonly work beside one song. I can dig it. Good job Ross.