Rick Ross Revels in His Signature Sound and Style on 'Richer Than I Ever Been'
Published Dec 14, 2021Rick Ross has spent almost twenty years mastering not only his craft, but his character and sound. Album after album, Ross has expanded his catalogue without ever veering away from his signature recipe — instrumentals that feel luxurious, bars bloated with braggadocio, and a sprinkle of anecdotal tales from a drug dealer's diary. As the saying goes, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it," and if Richer Than I Ever Been teaches us anything, it's that Rick Ross ain't broke, and his formula isn't either.
Richer Than I Ever Been is another solid outing in Ross's catalogue. While it doesn't reach the heights of 2009's Deeper Than Rap or 2010's Teflon Don, it shows that Ross hasn't forgotten what made those albums so endearing in the first place. Pair that with his unrivalled and always excellent ear for beats, and it becomes simple to see how Ross has found such comfort, and success, in his creative process.
Barring a few duds here and there, Ross again delivers songs that showcase the best of his abilities, and brings a few friends along for the ride. It's quite impressive that this deep into his career and catalogue, Ross can still pull out a showstopper of a drug rap track like the Benny the Butcher-assisted "Rapper Estates." The pair deliver immaculate verses over an extremely cinematic, lavish soundscape, laced with an infectious horn sample and some thudding 808s courtesy of Boi-1da.
The album's biggest highlight is the Bink!-produced "Warm Words in a Cold World." Outside of incredible guest spots from Wale and Future, it's a unique sonic entry in Ross's catalogue. On it, he takes an instrumental that sounds completely out of his wheelhouse and crafts a song that fits right into the world he has spent nearly two decades building, crafting standout moment that would easily be a highlight on any of his last few projects.
Richer Than I Ever Been's tracklist also packs in archetypal Ross tracks, ranging from solid to very good, but there are places where Ross's loyalty to his sound becomes a detriment. In these moments, his reliance on his signature style comes off more as a reluctance to leave his comfort zone, or worse, a retread of something we've heard before.
For example, "Marathon" on its own is a pretty good track, but if you're a Ross fan, you've heard him rap over a similar instrumental on Mac Miller's Faces cut "Insomniak," where his flow and cadence aren't all that different. Hearing it for the first time, the track comes off a tad uninspired, even if it's mostly due to the recycled sample.
Another moment on here that feels like a rehash of Ross's past work is the title track "Richer Than I Ever Been," which feels like Ross either went into the studio with a checklist of Rossisms to use, or just fed his entire discography to an AI designed to generate its own Rick Ross song. Again, it isn't an inherently bad song, but on a short 12-song album, this one puts an end to an otherwise great stretch of songs from "Warm Words in a Cold World" to "Imperial High."
Still, these two rather lacklustre moments don't do much to derail how enjoyable this album is. While Ross's loyalty to his signature sound may lead to weaker moments on Richer Than I Ever Been, it is this familiar foundation that his music is built on that has given him continued success throughout his career. This album won't change anyone's opinion of Rick Ross, but fans will get everything they love about his music: some standout tracks, an abundance of charismatic luxury raps and a slew of incredible, lavish instrumentals for you to cruise around to. (Epic)