After several push backs and a couple lackluster singles, Rick Ross returns with his latest studio effort dubbed Mastermind. This is Ricky Rozay‘s 6th studio album, and it seems more seasoned than any of his earlier efforts. Ross is one of the most consistent rappers in the game, and keeps rap bloggers on their toes. If you contribute to a rap blog or simply visit, you’re sure to have at least one or two new postings attributed to him in a normal work week. If you follow social media, you’re accustomed to seeing a Rick Ross gif, or some slander of his latest music, and it’s usually from somebody who is unappreciative of his work ethic which rightfully shouldn’t go unnoticed. Over saturating the public with music can make the average listener get bored of your sound and contributions, but Rick Ross somehow manages to keep himself fresh and interesting, in times where people get tired of the same old shit quick.
Mastermind‘s opening introduction adds no value to the album whatsoever, other than letting you know what the project’s title is. On every listen I’ll be quick skipping to the second track.
“Rich Is Gangsta”
Ross has one of the best ears for beats, and the Black Metaphor beat used on Rich Is Gangsta is the proof. A solid track from Ricky, filled with drug references and stunting, and mentions of the crew he put on, including Wale and Meek Mill. There is also a lighthearted jab toward 50 Cent, all while demanding 50 mil from Warner Bros. if they want to move forward with more MMG releases.
“Drug Dealers Dream”
“Your checking account balance is $92,153,183.028,” that’s a message any man or woman would love to hear, but in Rick’s case, it’s also every drug dealer’s dream. This is one of those tracks with lines you’ll have trouble believing, but the words add a cinematic feel to the Jake One produced cut. Very listenable.
This skit adds more cinematic value to the album, all while reminding you that we could have lost Rick Ross last year when somebody opened fire on his Rolls Royce. Perfect lead in to “Nobody“.
“You’re nobody, till somebody kills you.” Nobody is a standout track from Mastermind, thanks to the beat which is credited to Sean Combs and Diddy‘s classical shit talking which is an actual recording of him going at an employee. Diddy‘s shit talking is damn near inspirational.
“The Devil Is A Lie” (Feat. Jay-Z)
This tracks plays second fiddle to Jay-Z and Rick Ross‘ previous work together. The Devil is A Lie is one of the weakest tracks on the album, but it’s K.E. On The Track instrumental is something epic, and just might keep you listening to it. With Rick Ross and Jay-Z on the same track, it’s supposed to be something epic, which is why this was pushed as a single, but truth be told I’d rather listen to “You Know I Got It.”
“Mafia Music III”
It wouldn’t be a Rick Ross album without a track embracing that Jamaican sound on it. For Mafia Music III, Ross stunts a bit over a Bink produced beat. Sizzla and Mavado contribute to this one, but it simply has no replay value. This is why skip options exist. This somewhat plays a good lead in to War Ready though.
“War Ready” (Feat. Young Jeezy & Tracy T)
Rick Ross and Jeezy squashed their beef, thanks to DJ Khaled bringing them together and rap fans couldn’t be more happy. “War Ready” is undeniable fire, and I’m excited to know a visual is on the way and it’s being pushed as a single. The Mike Will Made It produced track will make you want to bust somebody’s head open for no reason. Ross delivers strong, and so does Jeezy, but Rozay feels more at home, and Tracy T is just visiting.
“What A Shame” (Feat. French Montana)
With a dope REEFA produced instrumental in place, Ross and French work well together to craft a strong album cut which could be considered a homage to Wu-Tang. Easy listening raps and French Montana‘s signature ad-libs make this a standout.
Katt Williams familiar voice opens this one up and lets us know about a recent visit to the new United States embassy somewhere in Georgia that has 109 rooms. This place Katt is joking about is Rick Ross‘ new home, which was owned by former heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield. A humble stunt on Rozay’s part. Supreme is produced by Scott Storch, and just like Ross says, it’s something special when these two work together.
BLK & WHT
“A n—- black but he selling white,” this is one of Ross’ more lazy offerings, and the D-Rich produced track is no good. Simply put, we expect better from Ross and a corny bar like “Trayvon Martin, I’m never missing my target” is both insulting and disrespectful. As I write this I can see the shock headlines being published on popular media sites and controversy arising. But like they say, all publicity is good publicity right? Probably wrong in this case, that’s if this takes off, and it probably will.
“Dope Bitch Skit”
A skippable skit featuring a couple of annoying females promoting Ross’ black bottle beverages and the usual stunting. Luc Belaire Rose is delicious, but I’d rather see #blackbottleboyz hashtags flow down my social timelines all day then hear these women speak any longer.
“In Vein” (Feat. The Weeknd)
This is a Mastermind album stand out, but its more comfortable for The Weeknd to float on this one. Abel controls “In Vein,” as it feels like one of his slow-paced emotional addiction records, and not a Rick Ross song featuring The Weeknd. In Vein is great nonetheless and The Weeknd’s production makes this something special and Ross saving this for his album was a smart move.
“Sanctified” (Feat. Kanye West & Big Sean)
With the soul sample in place it’s easy to spot this as a Kanye West production. Big Sean‘s chorus is perfect to sing a long to, and Kanye makes it more inviting when you hear his voice. Rick Ross is at his best on Sanctified and he has no problem holding his own with Mr. West, whose verse sounds like it’s penned by Big Sean. This is the best musical offering on Mastermind, and the production level is top-notch.
“Walkin On Air” (Feat. Meek Mill)
This is the second D-Rich beat on the album, and thankfully it’s better than the other. In fact Rick Ross and Meek Mill both know what to do on this one, and it’s another album standout. Ross and Meek is a perfect pairing and when they come together on a track like this you know it’s going to be hard-hitting. Ross delivers with his perfected slow flow on this one, then Meek picks up the pace when it’s his turn.
Rick Ross and Lil Wayne have two things in common, they’re both great rappers, and they both have mastered consistency. They’re easily the most consistent rappers in the game, and can be featured at on any top 10 list for the last 5 or more years with no debate. Put them both over a J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League instrumental and the outcome gotta be magical. With that being said “Thug Cry” is the second best offering on Mastermind, and it’s a perfect way to end the album before you digest the bonus tracks.
Pros: Dope flows, Variety of sounds, Features that fit the project well, Great beats
Cons: Trayvon Martin bar that will be taken out of context, Pointless skits, Not enough J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League
Timeless Tracks: Sanctified, Thug Cry, Walkin On Air, In Vein, Rich Is Gangsta, What A Shame, War Ready, Nobody