Artist: Rick Ross
Album: God Forgives, I Don’t
Label: Maybach Music Group/Def Jam
Release Date: 7/31/12
In the cinematic fantasy world that hip-hop music often emulates, nobody plays their character better than Rick Ross. Since his debut, Ross has played the role of the biggest boss you have seen thus far perfectly to the point that his self-made persona has elevated him to the top of the rap game. His new album God Forgives, I Don’t is the Boss’ first LP since he has officially been considered among this era of rap music’s elite and it is also his first solo release since Maybach Music, the imprint label Ross has founded, evolved from just an outlet for him to put his homies out into the hottest conglomerate in the game. With all of that being said, it’s safe to say that Ross’ status is at an all-time high. However, while Ross entertainingly displays all of the Boss like mannerisms that got him to where he is today on GFID, the album also gives signs that Rozay might be getting a little too comfortable on his newly acquired throne as this project lacks a lot of the innovation that was heard on some of Ross’ previous works such as his last album, Teflon Don.
God Forgives, I Don’t begins with one of the stronger tracks on the project, a horn filled banger called “Pirates” where Ross exhibits his signature Mafioso boss swag from the first “ungh” to the last “woooop.” The next track, “3 Kings” is by far the most anticipated song off GFID as it includes features from Dr. Dre and Jay-Z. I know I’m not alone when I say that I was surprised to learn that Ross enlisted underground favorite Jake One (who has worked with G-Unit) to produce the track with the most star power on the album. The result is as unexpected as Jake’s name on the production credits as instead of lacing this trio of hip-hop royalty with an over the top blockbuster beat as one might predict, Jake Uno crafts a laid back yet regal loop that creates the “Classic Hip-Hop” feel that Dr. Dre references at the start of the song. However, since he didn’t produce the cut, Dre and his lackluster ghostwritten verse have no business being on this one and quite frankly Ross’ bars aren’t that special either. Hov makes both of them look like princes with a verse that he claims “is just a freestyle” when he spits bars like “Ex d boy used to park my beamer / Now look at me I can park in my own arena.”
“Sixteen” featuring Andre 3000 was arguably the next most anticipated track off GFID, however unlike “3 Kings” Ross comes correct with his bars on this one…and do I even have to say that about 3 stacks? It’s pretty much a given now that this dude murders everyone on their own sh*t and “Sixteen” is no different. This luxurious J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League produced track spans just over eight minutes long and Ross kicks it off with a smooth verse that references every music legend from Etta James to Eric Clapton to ODB in a way that only Rick Ross can do. However The Boss’ bars are quickly eclipsed by a two minute lyrical killing spree courtesy of 3 Stacks, because as they say on the track “sometimes sixteen bars just ain’t enough.”
Other guests on the album include John Legend on the elegantly epic “Rich Forever” and Nas on the deluxe version’s “Triple Beam Dreams” which is a decent joint but has nothing on Esco and Rozay’s previous collabs. Usher supplies the hook for the single “Touch’n You” which has already proven to be success on the airwaves and of course the MMG empire is represented to the fullest throughout GFID with Meek Mill spitting on “So Sophisticated”, Wale on “Diced Pineapples” also featuring Drake, and Stalley on “10 Jesus Pieces”, which is another notable track produced by the talented folks from the J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League.
Ross also gets frequent collaborator Ne-Yo to sing the chorus on the fourth installment of the Maybach Music series, “Maybach Music IV.” For those of you who don’t know, The Maybach Music brand was originally conceived as a track off Ross’ sophomore album Trilla and Ross has released a sequel to that song on every one of his albums since. However, that is not the only song Ross has repeated. Ever since “BMF” blew up heavy in the streets about two summers ago, Ross has rode that trap rap wave by making a surplus of songs practically identical to the one that helped propel his career to where it is today. While replicas of “BMF” such as “Tupac Back”, “600 Benz” and “John” did capture the sound of the streets for a brief moment in time, I’m afraid that that wave has finally come crashing to an end on the shores of God Forgives, I Don’t. Ross has just gone too far this time around, case and point the back to back tracks “Hold Me Back” and “911.” The lyrics might be different but it doesn’t matter, these two joints are exactly the same and the fact that they appear one after the other just makes it seem like it’s one long painful 600th edition of “BMF”.
In the recent G.O.O.D. music Complex cover story, Q-Tip said the following “Once N*ggas get to that number one spot, they play it safe. They’ll put out joints that just fit it right and they’ll get the right m*thaf*cka to sing it.” I’m afraid that’s exactly what Ross’ is doing with a lot of the songs on GFID like “Hold Me Back” and “911”. He’s following a formula that has worked in the past so he’s just going to repeat it. However, in the long run that’s exactly how cats loose that number one spot and for someone who has been riding with the big boss Ricky Ross since his days fresh out of the 305 MIyayo, I would hate to see his career have already reached its peak simply because he is incapable of reinventing himself and lacing his fans with sh*t that they haven’t heard before. Whether or not that’s the case remains to be seen, and that cannot be determined from just this one album. Yet the fact that Rozay appears to be getting a bit complacent at times shouldn’t take away from the handful of really dope tracks on this album such as “Pirates”, “Sixteen” and “Ashamed,” a soulful cut that I have failed to mention until just now, but is definitely worth multiple listens. When you have achieved the status that Ross has recently attained, you are obviously going to be held at a higher standard and with that being said God Forgives, I Don’t does leave some room for improvement and isn’t as boss-like as some of Ross’ previous works. Ungh.