Rick Ross has endured and overcame quite a bit trials and tribulations over the span of his tumultuous, turbulent career in the music industry. From the revelation of his past of being a former C.O., beating gun and drug related charges, being dropped by Reebok after penning lyrics purportedly condoning date rape, a highly publicized and scathing feud with rapper 50 Cent, narrowly escaping a drive-by shooting in 2013 and even currently fighting aggravated assault, battery and kidnapping charges in court the Miami-based rapper has led a hectic and chaotic whirlwind of an existence that rivals even the most wild and lavish fantasies penned over the years in his nine album strong catalog.
Flagrant use of blending grandiose fantasies with bits and pieces of reality in nothing new in the genre and has been used by various artists, each to varying degrees for well over the past two decades. However, it is a hallmark trope perhaps championed by no one better than Ross himself currently. The formula has worked particularly well for Ross, changing very little in terms of execution since his debut album Port of Miami nearly eleven years ago in 2006. Likewise, little has changed in regards to Ross or his music artistically over the past decade or so, sticking to a persistent formula and delivery that thus far has remained lucrative as well as appealing to his fanbase. Rather You Than Me is no exception this rule, the fourteen track album is sixty-two minutes of Rick Ross doing what he does best. Over the top luxurious fantasies, heavy handed self-assured braggadocio peppered with the occasional hints and glimpses of reality which comprise the album and deliver what most fans have come to expect from Rozay. While fans of Rick Ross will no doubt enjoy these stylized, exaggerated tales showcased on the album; for the casual listener or more reflective Hip-Hop fan this subject matter falls unfortunately receptively flat. Especially after being beat death over the course of the past eleven years, it seems there’s only so many ways Ross can re-invent the wheel and put a new spin on tired subject matter which is painfully clear here on Rather You Than Me.
If there is a standout quality on Rather You Than Me it is by far the album’s production. With a particularly good ear for picking beats, Ross’ penchant for stellar production has consistently been his saving grace throughout much of his career which more than once saves the album from slipping into droning redundancy given the shallow and repetitive subject manner displayed throughout a majority of the album’s run time. With that being said however, Ross is very good at what he does and after nearly eleven years of fine tuning his act the Teflon Don has seemingly got the routine down to a T which still manages to draw much of his fan base release after release. With booming trap inspired production juxtaposed between sleek, polished sample heavy tracks this cross-section of lush production has become a hallmark feature in Ross’ discography. A trait showcased on full display on “I Think She Like Me”, making good use of a classic Stylistics sample with Ty Dolla Sign assisting on the song’s hook. While the album unfortunately features no production credits from usual Maybach Music suspects J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League, the album does feature an eclectic variety of guest appearances from Raphael Saadiq, Young Thug, Wale, Future, Jeezy, Yo Gotti, Ty Dolla Sign, Gucci Mane, Meek Mill, Scrilla, Dej Loaf, Anthony Hamilton and Nas who all in some some way contribute to the album. Even comedian Chris Rock joins along jumping in the mix, contributing a series of spoken word comedic skits strewn throughout the album’s fourteen track playlist.
However, after so long even this myriad of guest vocalist gets a bit redundant as both the featured guests and songs have a tendency to blend into one another as the album progresses. Both Future and Young Thug manage to deliver phoned in performances, not atypical from what one would expect from each respective artists but by no means delivering extraordinary performances either. Other artists such as Gucci Mane and Jeezy also deliver predictable performances bringing very little new the table on the the tracks they’re featured on. Not every feature however is a shallow stock performance or a shoehorned feature to cash in on hot flavor of the month artists popularity. R&B luminary and veteran Raphael Saadiq delivers an impassioned performance on the album’s opening track “Apple of My Eye”, while Nas easily delivers the album’s highlight guest appearance on “The Powers That Be”, making it Escobar’s third collaboration with Rick Ross. Nas effortlessly flows over the track with ease and precision that could only be done by veteran of his caliber proving why he was and is the original Don. In the end, the features showcased on Rather You Than Me act as a double edged sword. While the many superfluous features do get a bit played out, especially toward the album’s latter half; the features do help curb the redundancy (albeit while sometimes contributing to it as well) which would be felt all that much more in light of their absence. Ross himself even has a few standout moments. On the track “Idols Become Rivals”, a diss track directed at idol-turned-rival, Bryan “Birdman” William Ross laments his falling out with Birdman and his loss of respect for him after the treatment of his label’s artist namely, Lil’ Wayne and DJ Khaled. The cut is a rare compassionate side of Ross rarely seen on his albums and a brief moment of earnestness and genuine concern for his counterpartsshown on Rather You Than Me.
In the end, Rather You Than Me is neither a classic nor a disappointment, not timeless or dated. Ultimately delivering a mixed bag of typical rap offerings and posturing while also mixing in a few genuine standout cuts. Overall it’s an average offering, from a moderately above average artist that seems to be entering the mid-way point of their career. While Rather You Than Me is nothing extraordinary nor groundbreaking it is testament to Ross’ resilience as an entertainer as well as the creative lane that he has forged for himself over the past decade in his career. While album at times has the introspectional depth of a bathtub, save for a few moments of brilliance between the album’s myriad of featured cameos and admittedly catchy production long time fans will surely be satisfied with all the marks it hits while casual fans alike are bound to find more than a handful of tracks to bob their head to. If anything is clear, it’s that after well over a decade of resilience in the music industry Rick Ross has plans of stopping or letting up in the near future.
Rather You Than Me is available in stores now to purchase and to stream on Tidal, Spotify, Apple Music and iTunes.
Full Album Track Listing & Credits:
- Apple of My Eye (Feat. Raphael Saadiq)
- Santorini Greece
- Idols Become Rivals (Feat. Chris Rock)
- Trap Trap Trap (Feat. Young Thug & Wale)
- Dead Presidents (Feat. Future, Jeezy & Yo Gotti)
- She on My Dick (Feat. Gucci Mane)
- I Think She Like Me (Feat. Ty Dolla $ign)
- Powers That Be (Feat. Nas)
- Game Ain’t Based On Sympathy
- Lamborghini Doors (Feat. Meek Mill & Anthony Hamilton)
- Triple Platinum (Feat. Scrilla)
- Maybach Music V (Feat. DeJ Loaf)
- Summer Seventeen (Feat. Yo Gotti)