.
http://assets-s3.rollingstone.com/assets/images/album_review/rick-ross-mastermind-1393974000.jpeg Mastermind

Rick Ross

Mastermind

Maybach/Def Jam
Rolling Stone: star rating
Community: star rating
5 3.5 0
March 5, 2014

Miami boastmaster Rick Ross got to where he is by playing a hustler, a don, a master of outsize fantasies of golden-toilet luxury. But the seemingly untouchable king of self-invention – the man who once rapped, "The rumors turn me on, I'm masturbatin' at the top" – uses his sixth album to attempt the near-impossible: becoming a serious artist. All the cues that point to "important rap album" are here, from a famous visual artist doing the deluxe cover art (Banksy pal Mr. Brainwash), to lush Black Album-in-the-trap beats, to a song called "Thug Cry," to a remake of the Notorious B.I.G.'s "You're Nobody (Til Somebody Kills You)." Reflective, a little nervous, full of references to feds intervening, Mastermind plays like the first Ross album that's actually seen the last act of Scarface.

Ross certainly has the skills to pull this off: In the past eight years, he's turned from a guy who infamously rhymed "Atlantic" with "Atlantic" to an evocative wordsmith, with lines like "Rose petals dripping on the casket/Baby boy done grew into a bastard." The only thing he lacks is the ability to properly balance his brags with his more repentant lines ("Is this a drug dealer's dream?/'Cause all I ever see is niggas dyin' from disease"). Standout track "Sanctified," for example, shines with guest singer Betty Wright's powerful gospel rasp and Kanye West confessing his sins on a featured verse. Ross, meanwhile, ends up talking designer clothes and fellatio. Mastermind is full of moments like this: All the pieces of a game-changing rap LP are there, just a little jumbled.

prev
Album Review Main Next

ADD A COMMENT

Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...

COMMENTS

Sort by:
    Read More
    Around the Web
    Powered By ZergNet
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.

    X

    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories

    “Long Walk Home”

    Bruce Springsteen | 2007

    When the subject of this mournful song returns home, he hardly recognizes his town. Springsteen told Rolling Stone the alienation the man feels is a metaphor for life in a politically altered post-9/11 America. “Who would have ever thought we’d live in a country without habeas corpus?” he said. “That’s Orwellian. That’s what political hysteria is about and how effective it is. I felt it in myself. You get frightened for your family, for your home. And you realize how countries can move way off course, very far from democratic ideals.”

    More Song Stories entries »
    www.expandtheroom.com