Rick Ross - Mastermind Review 
Posted by Bill Wannop on 03.04.2014
Rick Ross returns with Mastermind, his sixth studio album, which Ross himself said was more street and a definite classic. Does Mastermind live up to the hype and continue the consistent quality that Rick Ross is known for, or does the album signal that the fall from grace has begun for Maybach Music?
Rick Ross is currently one of the top names in hip hop, and it seems that nothing can slow the man down. Whether it be the exposure of his past as a probation officer, his health problems (specifically seizures), losing a Reebok sponsorship deal, or a drive by shooting that happened roughly one year ago. Ross seems to have that special quality that lets him slide by unscathed, and Ross can also potentially claim to be the emcee that not only survived the repeated disses by 50 Cent, but also came out on top of the rap beef. Ross has always been in demand in terms of providing guest verses and all of his past albums have been well received by critics. Rick Ross, returns with Mastermind, his sixth studio album, which Ross himself said was more street and a definite classic. Does Mastermind, live up to the hype and continue the consistent quality that Rick Ross is known for, or does the album signal that the fall from grace has begun for Maybach Music?
2. "Rich Is Gangsta" produced by Black Metaphor
3. "Drug Dealers Dream” produced by Jake One
4. "Shots Fired"
5. "Nobody" (featuring French Montana and Diddy) produced by Sean Combs
6. "The Devil Is a Lie" (featuring Jay-Z) produced by Major Seven
7. "Mafia Music III" (featuring Sizzla and Mavado) produced by Bink!
8. "War Ready" (featuring Jeezy) produced by Mike WiLL Made It
9. "What a Shame" (featuring French Montana) produced by Reefa
10. "Supreme" produced by Scott Storch
11. "BLK & WHT" produced by D-Rich
12. "Dope Bitch" (Skit)
13. "In Vein" (featuring The Weeknd) produced by The Weeknd
14. "Sanctified" (featuring Kanye West and Big Sean) produced by Kanye West, DJ Mustard (co.)
15. "Walkin' on Air" (featuring Meek Mill) produced by D-Rich
16. "Thug Cry" (featuring Lil Wayne) produced by J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League
Consistency is the main word that you can use to describe this album, and the entire career of Rick Ross. Ross provides consistent verses, however, it is his ear for selecting a great beat to support his flows that make this album as good as it is. The album, is masterfully produced, as Ross used many different producers from Justice League, Bink, D-Rich, to Jake One to craft an album that many people will be listening to for months to come. The result of the great production matched with the voice and personality of Rick Ross, allows Ross to back up all his boasting and proves that he is one of the top acts in terms of making a hip hop record. While there is no real stand out tracks on the album, and while Ross does get outshined a couple of times by some guests, Rick Ross created a very consistent album from start to finish.
In terms of guest spots, Rick Ross went with heavy hitters, with most of them fitting in nicely with the track and atmosphere of the album. Jay-Z shows up on one of the standout tracks, “The Devil is a Lie” and as hard as Ross tries, he simply cannot compete as Jay-Z rides the great beat provided by Major Seven, showing Ross who is king in terms of lyrics. Similarly, on “War Ready’” Ross and Jeezy put aside their past differences to collab on the track, and Jeezy also somewhat lyrically murders Ross. What is surprising is that Ross seems fine with that. He seems to realize that he does not have the lyrics to match on these tracks, and he uses his voice and personality to try and keep pace.
While Rick Ross is the cream of the new group of hip hop artists, he does show homage to artists of the past. On the track “Nothing” Ross tries to capture the flow of Notorious BIG, and while the sampled record does not hold a candle to the original BIG record, Ross does up his flow and lyrics showing that he does have good skills on the mic. “What a Shame” has Ross giving a nod to Wu-Tang clan while “Thug Cry” has the same basic beat sample as 93 Till Infinity by Souls of Mischief (whether Ross knows this or not is another question, but I would like to think he does). While these samplings of old hip hop records does work with the current sound from Ross, listening to the tracks, makes me appreciate and want to listen to the originals…
As the album moves along, Ross goes through the typical topics that will be familiar territory to his fans. Ross does mix up the sound with “Mafia Music III” which has a bit of reggae tone to it and is an unexpected wakeup that shows some of the potential and layers that Rick Ross has. However, the album returns quickly to its familiar themes and it does seem at times that Ross is just being lazy on the mic. Especially during the first couple tracks, it seems as though Ross relies too heavily on the production, and is complacent with his lyrics. Tracks like “Rich as Gangsta” and “Drug Dealers Dreams” and prime examples of this as the production sets a nice introductory tone to the album and the atmosphere, however, Ross provides lazy and uninspired lyrics (complete with a halfhearted 50 Cent diss).
At the end of the day, fans of Rick Ross will love this album, while fans of hip hop in general will think this album is average. Rick Ross delivered what his fans want. He put out another consistent album, and seems content to rely on his ear for production and for his gruff voice and personality to carry him along.
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The 411: Fans of Rick Ross will love this album, while fans of hip hop in general will think this album is average. Rick Ross delivered what his fans want. He put out another consistent album, and seems content to rely on his ear for production and for his gruff voice and personality to carry him along.