Published Mar 20, 2017Nearly three years ago, Rick Ross appeared to be in need of a reinvention, having released the underwhelming tandem of Mastermind and Hood Billionaire eight months apart. Brighter moments for Ross on the pair of LPs came when he humbled himself and looked inward, abandoning the big-bodied Benzes and glitzy production on which he'd built his boss status.
It was a side of himself he showed on 2015's Black Market and now explores even more on self-proclaimed magnum opus Rather You Than Me. Ross raps that he "can't run from the echoes, and I still hear the screams" that came with his hard-knock come-up on "Game Ain't Based on Sympathy," while noting that the "life-long contract" to rap that bonds him and his contemporaries should promote "honour and pride, put the salaries aside" on "Scientology."
As some astute listeners have noticed, having Ross rap on something that doesn't involve skittering hi-hats can provide impressive results. His taste for the finer things in life has, by extension, influenced his ear for beats, with Bink! providing the best of the lavish, jazzy sounds that support Ross' effortless flows. It's the feel of Ross' revered "Devil In a New Dress" cameo amplified, marked by tasteful saxophone phrasing, singing strings and delicate piano glides.
The standout here is "Idols Become Rivals," in which Ross weighs in on the seemingly never-ending saga of Cash Money Records and label boss Brian "Birdman" Williams. Not only does Ross hit low with accusations of fake timepieces and leased luxury cars, but also airs out Birdman for how he's treated the likes of Lil Wayne, Mannie Fresh and DJ Khaled. Over production from Black Metaphor, Ross blurs the line between diss track and plea.
Ross did promise listeners some "gold toilet talk," though, and delivers with the ostentatious pair of "She on My Dick" ("Richest n***a in the city so she on my dick") and "I Think She Like Me." While "Trap Trap Trap" and "Dead Presidents" aim a little bit higher than that, those tracks leave the listener with little they haven't already heard over Rozay's ten years in rap.
It isn't without its flaws, but Rather You Than Me positions Rick Ross as the boss he's always claimed to be, his raps reinforced by lofty, gold-plated production and added lyrical depth that's as refreshing as a glass of Belaire Rose. (Epic/Maybach Music Group)