Review Summary: Rick Ross is preaching – But who's listening?
I started listening to God Forgives, I Don’t
while playing around on my iPhone, just focusing in and out, using the smooth beats and Ross’s gruffs as background music. It wasn’t until the 6th track Sixteen
, that I lost focus on my game and momentarily started listening to Rick Ross’s rapping. And I realized: he was good.
Rick Ross’s adventure into Hip-Hop music is an eclectic tale, filled with lies, deceit, braggadocio and Mafioso. His rise from being just another generic Southern gangster rapper to THE generic Southern gangster rapper is impressive to say the least: Surviving battles with [a then relevant] 50 Cent, the revelations of his past career and overtaking Lil Wayne as the voice of the South, Rick Ross has truly staked a claim on the rap music turf, by hook or by crook.
To be fair to him, however, he has steadily improved his skills both lyrically and as a businessman; and God Forgives, I Don’t
is the culmination of that. Now on this 5th album, Rick Ross still retains the hunger of an upcoming emcee, but builds on that with some thoughtful observations, catchy as hell hooks (minus Hold Me Back
) and well-timed punchlines. Rick Ross’s main skill has always been to stay true to what he does best, while managing to retain a commercial appealing sound and this album doesn’t lack that characteristic. Of course, the mindless self-indulgence is present, along with Ross’s stories to selling drugs and being the legit tough guy we all know he is. But there is also a certain undeniable charm to him.
The best thing that can be said about Rick Ross and his albums is that they are oozing of charisma. Ross knows how to find a beat that suits his style of rapping and rides it skillfully and knows exactly when to let the song breathe. A perfect example is Pirates
where he builds a verse of gambling & hustling, but not being so overwhelming that the listener might stop caring about what (if anything) Ross is saying: “Hallucination of money, while nigga's stomach just rumble - Had to *** with the Haitians and break a kilo to crumbles - Nigga living in rubble, within him labelled the rebel - Any nigga wanna rumble, somebody hand me a shovel”
On 3 Kings
Ross’s energy is even able to zap the otherwise comatose Jay-Z and Dr. Dre into action, who sound charged and actually giving a damn. The André 3000 assisted Sixteen
puts both the rappers as their best, with long, focused verses, directed by the theme of the song: “Having a dope beat, dope idea - Sixteen bars ain't enough!”
The generic singles are also here, with catchy R&B hooks that are meant to be played nowhere else besides on the radio and at clubs, which includes the over-sexed Touch’N You
with a simplified, yet X-rated chorus from Usher. As with every Rick Ross album, featured artist are meant to fit into the theme and sound complimentary, as they do here. Amongst all his label mates, only Stalley impresses, on the closer Ten Jesus Pieces
, who, while not amazing, shouldn’t be taken lightly either. It’s also becomes evident that all Southern rap albums have to incorporate a clap-beat rhythm in their music (it’s a part of the cache) This Post-Lex Luger influence is seamed into this album too, despite the absence of the man himself. Both Hold Me Back
are built from the “trap” sound, where the former sounds like the dyslexic cousin of Ross’s earlier hit B.M.F.
Ross’s God Forgives, I Don’t
is the most impressive addition to his catalogue of hits and thrills, which begs the question: If Rick Ross is improving with every album, by the time he reaches his magnum opus, will anyone care" Is there anyone waiting in anticipation until that does happen" If so, then rejoice, because that day is coming. Just know it might take a while.