Ashes to Ashes

Is there a better salesman working in hip-hop today than Rick Ross? Yes, the Miami MC raps a bunch about moving drugs, but he's best at selling himself: It takes Don Draper-level skills to package a former corrections officer as a former cocaine kingpin and actually pull it off. On this mixtape — too uneven to match the gruff grandeur of 2010's Teflon Don, but featuring some thunderous production by Lex Luger and Boi-1da — Ross brags with such actorly gusto you don't really notice (or care) how little sense he makes: "I'm smokin' dope! I'm on my cellphone!" he roars on "9 Piece." That shouldn't sound impressive, but with Ross pitching it, it does.

Listen to "9 Piece":

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From The Archives Issue 1124: February 17, 2011