Album Review: Rick Ross – God Forgives, I Don’tby Rahul Pandya on Aug, 01 2012
Two years ago, Rick Ross was on top of the world. His fourth album Teflon Don, a hit single “B.M.F.” and a scene-stealing verse on Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy had all cemented Ross among the generation’s greats, beside Kanye, Jay-Z, Lil Wayne and Drake.
The following year and a half found Ross sort of coasting along that success, consistently rehashing the same song, not necessarily pushing the boundaries creatively the way he appeared capable. He would, from time to time, affirm his talent with great guest verses (DJ Khaled’s “I’m On One“, Meek Mill’s “Ima Boss“, Drake’s “Lord Knows“), two serviceable compilation albums with his label (Self Made Vol. 1 & 2) and a free mixtape (Rich Forever), but his schtick to stay with his seemingly winning formula grew tiring.
God Forgives, I Don’t, Rick Ross’ fifth solo album, is essentially the same album as Teflon Don. He’s technically made the same album for several years now, but each would become bigger events as his rapping ability escalated. At least until this one. Teflon Don made people pay attention. Now that we’ve been paying attention, maybe Ross wasn’t quite up to the pressure.
His wonderful ear for beats remains the same as the album is separated into three sonic categories. You have your polished, orchestral J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League beats and those of its ilk, then a handful of repetitive, obnoxious trap anthems and finally, an entire section dedicated to women. It’s not even that the songs are all that bad; they’re just not that good. His D-boy fantasies are more like let-down sequels – his odes to women forgettable. Even the high points have their caveats.
“Maybach Music IV”, which sports not a list of impressive rappers but just Ne-Yo…and also L.A. Reid who 1) works for neither Def Jam nor Warner Bros. and 2) sounds like a rapist ready to slip something in my drink, does entirely too much to try to top its predecessors. The album boasts several high profile guests, including Dr. Dre, Jay-Z and Drake, but the finished products of these collaborations don’t seem quite as big as they should be. This cannot be said, however, for “Sixteen”, which features André 3000 in one of the few times a year he reminds us he exists. 3 Stacks spits perhaps the verse of the year, 100 bars that touch on childhood memories, theological propositions and something about a dolphin.
Again, it’s not that this is an altogether unpleasant batch of songs. “Hold Me Back”, probably the nineteenth or twentieth rehash of “B.M.F.” and “MC Hammer,” works much better in context of the whole album than when it was released as a single several weeks ago. Still, it falls short of those original anthems’ undeniable magic. This, together with a waste of a Meek Mill verse on “So Sophisticated” and a lack of a Drake verse on “Diced Pineapples”, prove that Ross’ A&R abilities may be a tad shaky, especially considering the terrific songs like “Perfectionists” and “I Love My Bitches” that were left off. His confidence in his own work doesn’t automatically translate to a gratifying listen.
If God forgives, then Rick Ross is going to be okay. It’s if Ross responds to his own shortcomings that will really matter in the future.