This week, Maybach Music Group mogul Rick Ross graced the airwaves with his newest album, Mastermind.
The Florida native has already received backlash for controversial lyrics in one of his songs, where some have accused him of making a distasteful lyric mentioning Trayvon Martin (“BLK & WHT”). Although the Teflon Don has proactively released a statement clarifying what he meant by the lyric, the hip-hop community is still unnerved about it.
Following a flop in sales with an MMG-label compilation album Self-Made Volume 3, which featured some of the label’s heavy-hitting signees like Meek Mill and Wale, Rozay has released his sixth studio album littered with all-star features, lyrical monotony and some sonic exploration.
Ross has definitely fallen off the map in recent years after his explosive introduction to mainstream hip-hop a few years back. Although he has faced a variety of controversy–in a previous lyrical scandal that led to his loss of sponsorship from Reebok, as well as the uncovering of his past gig as a corrections officer–Ross has still managed to stay relevant in the game. Brief lyrical controversy aside, Mastermind has been a long-awaited work, and it seems to be his answer to his haters.
Mastermind encapsulates and continues Rozay’s reputation that elevated him to the top as a drug-slinging, money-spending, no-bull persona that his foreboding bass-filled voice emphasizes on each track. Ross has always been able to paint a picture that many artists can’t: a gritty take on the harsh realities of the drug-filled and violent hoods of Miami.
Admittedly, many of the songs here sound like something recycled from one of his older albums, just given new titles. The themes and clever lyricism–while still a captivating aspect of Ross’s music–can get repetitive after time.
However, these songs are not the focal point of the album. Ross enlists the help of a slew of artists to help him construct Mastermind. What results is a melting pot of lyrical delivery, genius content and a unique set of beats that allows the at-times repetitive nature of Ross’ rap talent to become a second thought. The pure variety of the album is what draws in and demands the attention of its audience.
It’s difficult to recommend this album, but a few key tracks are definitely worth a listen, including “Sanctified,” “The Devil Is A Lie,” “In Vein” and “Mafia Music III.” Each has a set of unique features with the guests going just as hard as Rozay. It’s problematic when features are what makes an album worth listening to, but when they’re this good, who really cares?
2.5 out of 5 stars