There is a thin line between fantasy and reality. Where is the difference and in who’s mind and judgment constitute it? But if you believe it, wouldn’t that make it true? This is the dilemma that seems to revolve around Rick Ross. With his music depicting one way of life but accused of living another, how can one address this without losing “credibility?” This seems like a difficult task, but Ross manages to weather it well with superior presence on Deeper Than Rap.
There is no denying that Rick Ross possesses the presence of a boss, through his bravado and persona. But what is notable is that he manages to step his game up lyrically. This could possibly be attributed to his recent “beef” with 50 Cent as exemplified on several tracks, one of those being “Mafia Music”. Beautifully setting the tone for the album over the Inkredibles production and descriptive lyrics, Ross rhymes, “We steppin’ on your crew/’Til them mutha fuckers crushed/And making sweet love to every woman that you lust/I’d love to pay your bills, can’t wait to pay your rent/Curtis Jackson’s baby mama I ain’t asking for a cent/Burn the house down/Gotta buy another/Don’t forget the gas can, jealous, stupid mutha fucker/To another chapter/Paper that I capture/Caught up in the rapture of gun shots and laughter…”
But withstanding the battle, Ross makes his presence known whether it’s with the help of R&B artists John Legend and The Dream respectively on “Magnificent” and “All I Really Want”, describing fine living on “Yacht Club” ft. Magazeen and “Rich Off Cocaine”, or holding his own with two of the games top emcees on “Maybach Music II” ft. T-Pain, Kanye West, and Lil Wayne, undoubltably Ross personifies the ambiance of a Mafioso don while showing that he is up for any challenge that is thrown at him.
The low point of the album comes in two phases, the first being that towards the middle of the LP, five of the songs truly take away from its quality. The Robin Thicke featured “Lay Back” sounds like a hip-hop version of Usher’s “Love In This Club”, while the Foxy Brown assisted “Murder Mami” is plagued with a awful hook, “Gunplay” is just downright horrible, “Boss Lady” featuring Ne-Yo sounds forced and is somewhat redundant following the other R&B-esque tracks, and “Face” featuring Trina is irrelevant and would probably be better suited for her album. But the biggest problem with Deeper Than Rap deals with unanswered questions and contradictions. This is clearly evident with the recent accusations of Rick Ross working as a corrections officer. He addresses this on “Valley of Death” by saying, “Call your boy a c.o./But if I really was/When all these niggas undercover fuckin’ niggas up/Keep it trill, a nigga never wore a gun and badge/Kept a nice watch, smokin’ on a hundred sack…” but then turns around and says, “Can’t criticize niggas tryin’ to get jobs/Better get smart, young brother live yours/Only live once and I got two kids/And for me to feed them I’ll get two gigs/I’ll shovel shit, I’ll c.o./So we can bow our heads and pray over the meatloaf…” adding to the contradiction at the very least of integrity and while leaving innuendos more ambiguous. Lying deeper is the fact that has not really been addressed on his previous projects, how did he get to the status that he rhymes about? It is as if a movie were to begin in the middle with no real explanation of its preceding events. This would add to “credibility” and answer many questions that can make his music more relatable.
Overall, Deeper Than Rap is a very solid album with lyrical growth and great production. In addition, it proves that Rick Ross plans to have a long career in hip-hop, but in order to do that, one has to confront all challenges that come their way and not leave any stone unturned. At the very least, Rick Ross shows that keep living his reality, but not disproving it as fantasy. – RH
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