Rather You Than Me (released March 17, 2017)
Rick Ross albums are always a frustrating experience.
It’s not that Rawse is a bad rapper per se – far from it. Ever since he hustled his way into the game way back in the mid-00s, he’s dropped his fair share of bonafide hits. And his ear for production is absolutely unmatched. The man knows how to select a hot beat.
It’s the actual content of his songs that are a struggle. Almost every batch 16 bars contain the same stories:
I take vacations
These rappers suck
My girlfriends suck too (wink wink)
I’ll kill you
Repeat that over a couple thousands songs in the past decade and you see why Rawse’s act has worn thin, no matter how great his beats are.
But after digesting the first few tracks of Rather You Than Me, Rozay’s ninth solo LP, better days seemed to be on the horizon.
At first, anyway.
Album opener “Apple of My Eye” might be getting press for a throwaway line about not trusting Nicki Minaj (which is about as insightful as warning kids not to use bleach as eyedrops) but there’s so much more at play. Producer Major Nine’s mesmerizing production – accented by little more than gentle keys and an intermittent sax – is the canvas for one of Ross’ most insightful songs:
A fat ugly n**** thought I’d never be nothing
Another tree stump, happy with his free lunch
Duckin’ pigeons, I’m an eagle on a sunny day
Flap my wings once a week, pray I glide safe
I want fried chicken at my funeral
Rolls Royces, dope boys, Sway interviews
Everybody dying for the same things
Cop kill a n****, don’t nobody gangbang
I’m happy Donald Trump became the president
Because we gotta destroy, before we elevate
Like “Apple of My Eye,” your favorite garbage think piece writers have already started dissecting “Idols Become Rivals,” a so-called diss track directed toward Birdman. But this is much more than the usual rap beef – instead of merely hurling insults, Rawse takes the high road, expressing disappointment instead of anger over a mix of Jay Z’s “Where Have You Been”:
I pray you find the kindness in your heart for Wayne
His entire life, he gave you what there was to gain
I watched this whole debacle so I’m part to blame
Last request, can all producers please get paid?
It’s a level of insight and maturity that we haven’t seen from previous Rawse tracks. That theme continues on “Santorini Greece,” where The Boss dives deep into the black psyche (“When you black, lips chapped cause the game cold)” over heavenly production straight out of a jazz set.
Those three tracks are some of best work. By track four, though, it’s business as usual, with Rather You Than Me quickly morphing into every Rick Ross album before it.
For the most part, the product remains a highlight. “I Think She Like Me” is a slick flip of a Stylistics hit, even though Ty Dolla Sign sleepwalks through the hook. Anthony Hamilton puts a bit more effort into “Lamborghini Doors” but Meek Mill yelling over the track like a salty substitute teacher does it no favors. “Powers That Be” comes pretty close to being a hit, thanks to a beat worthy of a 2017 blaxploitation flick, but even Ross’ reunion with Nas falls a bit short of their previous outings.
But without the shiny beats to mask the albums flaws, the cracks really start to show. “Dead Presidents” is the requisite “BMF”/“MC Hammer” clone, with Rawse even mimicking his shouty delivery from the previous tracks. “She on My D***” features Rawse bragging about his trap queens for the billionth time while the song “Trap Trap Trap” is just as lazy as its title.
Actual lyrics: “Trap, trap, trap, trap, trap, trap, trap, trap, trap, trap, trap, trap”
And somebody check on Scrilla on “Triple Platinum.” Homie sounded like he was on the verge of slipping into a coma by the end of the song. I can’t blame him.
If I sound a little harsh here, blame the Annual Rick Ross Album Experience. Fifteen minutes into Rather You Than Me, I thought we were in for something special. Thirty minutes later, I was left with the usual impression – lots of unfulfilled potential. It’s frustrating.
Just your regular ol’ Rick Ross album.
Best tracks: “Santorini Greece,” “Idols Become Rivals,” “Apple of My Eye”
3 stars out of 5