Former hustla builds a buzz in the South, then signs with Def Jam, and releases a debut album with top notch production. Sound familiar? Last summer Young Jeezy set the streets on fire with Thug Motivation 101 and in 2006 Rick Ross’s Port of Miami will be bumping in car stereos in every hood across the country.
By now everyone is familiar with the street anthem “Hustlin” and the remix with labelmate Young Jeezy and President Carter. The simplicity of the lyrics and the kickin drums courtesy of new beatsmiths The Runners made it a summer favorite and made Ross someone to watch. On Port of Miami, Ross sticks to the successful formula of “Hustlin” making his debut pleasantly consistent or nauseatingly redundant depending on the listener.
The strength of Ross’s style is that he is unapologetic for anything his persona has done in the past and its that conviction that makes some of the mundane drug references bearable and sometimes enjoyable. Lines like “I was birthed in the crack house/But what made it worse every first it’s a packed house/Little brother knowing life illegal/No toys just playing with pipes and needles” on “Cross That Line” featuring Akon, show that Ross may not have actively chosen this life of crime, but like Jay-Z it was the life that chose him. To him, his past makes him legitimate, and he sets to prove it through out the album. Songs like “Pots and Pans”featuring J Rock and “I’m A G” featuring Brisco and the always improving Lil’ Wayne may sound like Ross is forcing his street credibility down listener’s throats, but he manages to sound authentic and occasionally insightful. The strongest track is the catchy “White House” with Ross confidently spitting lyrics like “I don’t fuck with pussy niggaz took my shit to Jigga Man/Went to Manhattan and come home a young millionaire” and “You niggaz go and fish I got a plate of sharks”.
Sticking to his strengths works well for Ross, but there are only so many different ways to talk about the hustler’s lifestyle. “Where My Money (I Need That)” sounds a little too much like “Hustlin’” (and Lil’ Wayne’s “Money on my Mind” for that matter) right down to the Runner’s in house rapper on the chorus that it probably should have been left on the cutting room floor. The Shaft-esque sound on “I?’m Bad” and the cheesy “Blow” featuring Dre would be other examples of addition by subtraction. While there are some serious misses, “Hit U From The Back” (featuring Rodney) earns the dubious distinction of “most likely to break the skip button” with its sad attempt at recreating the “romantic” feeling of Biggie and R. Kelly’s “Fucking You Tonight”.
Clocking in at nearly 80 minutes, Port of Miami has plenty to offer fans yearning for more of Ross. For some it may be 75 minutes too much, but no matter what Def Jam has another banger from their southern rap roster.
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