Maybach Music Group founder Rick Ross has built his name on the same foundations as many other rappers. Boasting of countless lascivious escapades and wearing his weight in gold chains, Ross won the spotlight with 2010’s Teflon Don. Four years later, his album Hood Billionaire seems to be a hastily-compiled effort of recreating the Teflon glory days.
His two-minute intro depicts Ross and associates unearthing millions of dollars’ worth of drugs. This sets an unfaltering theme for the rest of the album: It’s clear that our tubby buddy is back with the gang for more zany adventures involving guns, hoes and drugs. Beat production choices, lyrical content and a steady-paced flow are all in keeping with Rozay’s track record, but these get stale quick. The Maybach mogul totes a thematic fixation with cocaine to rival even that of Pusha T, but this is the extent of Ross’ artistic development for the album. He refrains from experimenting with new styles or branching out as an artist. He continues to ride on tired Lex Luger-style trap beats and boast about the coke he hasn’t sold and the traps he hasn’t run, creating a monotonous 60-minute album that feels like one colossal, mediocre track. The uniformity of his songs would be better fitted to a mixtape half the length of Hood Billionaire. For his seventh album and the second in 2014 alone, it’s disappointingly samey. In an interview on Power 105.1’s The Breakfast Club, Ross defended the dual release by saying, “That’s how bosses do it, ya heard me? That cake so stacked up we ain’t gotta do that.” Disregarding whether Ross’ cake is literal or metaphorical, it’s no excuse for his lack of variety. If Ross and MMG are as financially well-insulated as he claims, then there’s no reason to not experiment and branch out as an artist for fear of commercial failure.
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The album features guest artists such as Snoop, Jay Z and the recently-freed Boosie Badazz, among others. However, many of these features seem forced. Oftentimes, the artists’ musical styles seem ill-matched with the beats they appear on, giving the impression that Rozay wanted them simply to have their names attached to his tracks. Ross also sounds downright breathless at times. This gives the impression that he overslept, missed the bus and ran three miles to the Maybach studio directly before recording.
In many ways, Hood Billionaire serves as a nostalgic time capsule for what was popular in hip-hop four years ago. It gives an unshakeable feeling that Ross is simply rehashing Teflon Don and presenting it anew to the Billboard charts, trying in vain to replicate his 2010 successes. Although the album carries some solid bangers, like “Elvis Presley Blvd” and “Movin’ Bass,” they’re lost in the sea of 14 other songs that sound exactly the same. The crushing lack of variety in theme and tone does Ross no favors. As 2014 draws to a close, it’s seeming more and more likely that Rick Ross’ largest accomplishment of the year was his revitalization of the American pear-farming industry. Considering the shortcomings of Hood Billionaire, perhaps it’s better off if he’s remembered for the pears instead.