Ranking the Best Rick Ross Albums

Who would have thought that the guy with the “Hustlin” song would become one of the biggest names in rap?

Certainly not I.

Rick Ross’ ascent to rap royalty seemed almost as calculated as the mafioso movies that he loves to emulate. His evolution from the Florida corner boy puttin’ on for his city to the heavyweight mogul rapping about brunch and fish tanks in Santorini, Greece, sounds like something out of a straight-to-Netflix film.

Rawse quickly understood that when it comes to rap success, image is everything. Creating a world of Maybachs and yachts became more than just empty rap boasts, it became a brand – one he’s used to build an entire empire upon. Record labels, shoe deals, a chain of Wingstops, dude really is a boss.

But we’re here for the music, time to see how his 13-year career has held up over time.

Join us as we revisit the career of Rick Rawse (HUH), ranking his albums from bottom to top. In this case, we’re sticking with is 10 solo LPs, excluding his mixtapes, EPs and Self Made compilation series. As always, Album quality, consistency, and impact helped determine these rankings.

Grab a plate of lemon pepper wings, hop on your jetski with 17 random models and enjoy the ride.

10. Hood Billionaire (2014)

Soul in Stereo rating: 3 stars out of 5

Read our review here

Edd said: In 2014, Rawse gave us not one, but two LPs in the same calendar year. But 1998 DMX this was not. It’s a star-studded project that has a ton of promise and several great tracks, but also WAY more forgettable cuts and aimless filler. Get ready for me to echo that statement a lot, it’s a persistent problem in the Bawse’s lesser works.

Forgotten favorites: “Movin’ Bass,” “Phone Tap,” “Neighborhood Drug Dealer”

9. Mastermind (2014)

Soul in Stereo rating: 3 stars out of 5

Read our review here

Edd said: The second of the 2014 releases, Mastermind edges out its fall counterpart, but just slightly. Like Hood Billionaire, it’s easy to cherry pick your favorite tracks and call this a great project – and no doubt, there’s several strong tracks here. However, as an overall body of work, the lack of cohesion really torpedoes the potential of this one.

Forgotten favorites: “Mafia Music III,” “The Devil is A Lie,” “Rich is Gangsta”

8. Trilla (2008)

Soul in Stereo rating: 3 stars out of 5

Edd said: The Rick Rawse of 2008 wasn’t QUITE the Bawse we’d know today, but he was inching closer to finding himself here. Once again, his sophomore release would suffer the same pitfalls as the albums we’ve already mentioned – poor sequencing, uneven quality and a dire lack of cohesion. Trust me, I’m as tired of typing that as you are of reading it. Still, some really quality album cuts give this one a boost.

Forgotten favorites: “We Shinin,” “Here I Am,” “Luxury Tax”

7. Rather You Than Me (2017)

Soul in Stereo rating: 3 stars out of 5

Read our review here

Edd said: Rather You Than Me seems to have a rather mixed reception on these here Internets. No shock there – again, this album is quite the mixed bag but you have no choice but to be won over by the production. These beats are absolutely exquisite, as decadent as a triple layer chocolate cake in Buckingham Place. I’ve clearly been listening to too much Rawse – my reviews are starting to sound like his raps. Once again, a so-so mix of incredible album cuts and forgettable singles. You know the drill.

Forgotten favorites: “Santorini Greece,” “Idols Become Rivals,” “Apple of My Eye”

6. Black Market (2015)

Soul in Stereo rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Read our review here

Edd said: Rawse’s eighth LP came off the heels of his very well-received Black Dollar mixtape, easily one of his best projects to date. Black Market doesn’t quite reach those heights, but Rawse wisely used the lessons learned from that record – more introspection and intensity, less BS and goofiness – to give this album a bit more substance than those records from the dark days of 2014. There’s still a few eye-rolling songs to be found (ugh, “Peace Sign…”) but I was definitely down for a more mature Rawse.

Forgotten favorites: “Smile Mama, Smile,” “Black Opium,” “Free Enterprise”

5. Port of Miami (2006)

Soul in Stereo rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Edd said: It’s funny listening to this album more than a decade after its release. Even though Rawse came roaring out of the gate with his anthem “Hustlin” it was clear he was still trying to find himself on his debut. From pitch to delivery, it almost sounds like a totally different guy. It also lacks the signature lush production and the energetic confidence that make Rick Ross, well, Rick Ross. Instead we find Rawse doing his thing over typical production of the day. Port of Miami is an OK first outing, if a bit generic in some places. That would soon change.  

Forgotten favorites: “Push It,” “I’m Bad,” “White House”

4. God Forgives, I Don’t (2012)

Soul in Stereo rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Read our review here

Edd said: If Rawse’s fourth LP anointed him  as one of the greats of his era, it’s his fifth album that cemented that claim. While far from perfect, God Forgives, I Don’t is immensely enjoyable. It’s like a flashy summer blockbuster that’s thin on plot but heavy on excitement. Rawse’s energy is on another level here, stomping around like a cross between Tigger and the Juggernaut. Once again, a bloated tracklist holds this one back a bit (the uninspired R&B-flavored tracks specifically). But you can’t deny how much fun this one is. No wonder Rawse kept taking his clothes off and swinging them around, Petey Pablo style.

Forgotten favorites: “Sixteen,” “Diced Pineapples,” “Ten Jesus Pieces”

3. Port of Miami 2 (2019)

Soul in Stereo rating: 4 stars out of 5

Read our review here

Edd said: If you couldn’t tell already, Rick Ross is a man with has an immaculate ear for beat selection. But often his lyrics are like a revolving door of non sequiturs – great for sporadic witty punchlines but quickly get tuned out in favor of the superior instrumentals. The result is the root of my criticisms of a lot of Rawse’s LPs ­– a smattering of great songs lost among a sea of inferior album cuts. Port of Miami 2, to its credit, does a great job of reversing that trend. Surprisingly solid storytelling comes to the forefront on this one, giving Rawse’s bars some much-needed focus. And of course, the beats hit hard as usual. This one didn’t seem to get much attention last year and that’s a shame – it has the consistency that most of Rawse’s projects are in dire need of.

Forgotten favorites: “Nobody’s Favorite,” “Vegas Residency,” “Big Tyme”

2. Deeper than Rap (2009)

Soul in Stereo rating: 4 stars out of 5

Edd said: Never write off an artist right out of the gate. Sometimes it takes awhile for that artist to find who they truly are. In the case of Yung Renzel, it took three LPs to get him to the next level. Deeper than Rap is the album that finally introduced us to the Bawse we know today. The lush production. The husky delivery. The overwhelming confidence. Rawse defined his signature luxury rap on this one, positioning himself as one of the biggest starts of the coming 2010s. Sure, the second half of the album gets a little repetitive near the end but it’s cool – this is when we knew Rick Ross was here to stay.

Forgotten favorites: “Mafia Music,” “Maybach Music 2,” “Yacht Club”

1. Teflon Don (2010)

Soul in Stereo rating: 4 stars out of 5

Edd said: When I mentioned in the Soul In Stereo Cypher last week that I’d be recapping Rawse’s discography, readers began weighing in with their thoughts on which album should be No. 1. Unanimously, the top pick was Teflon Don.

I love when y’all are right.

Quite frankly, there was no other choice. JUSTICE League, Lex Luger, No ID and more gave Rawse some of the greatest beats of his career – and considering how incredible his soundscapes typically are, that’s very high praise. It features not one but two street bangers (“BMF” and “MC Hammer” will forever live in infamy) as well as giving Rawse his biggest hit in “Aston Martin Music.” Best of all, Teflon Don feels like a rock-solid, cohesive and complete album, not just a random playlist of songs. Teflon Don is without a doubt the quintessential Rick Ross album. Boss moves.

Forgotten favorites: “B.M.F,” “Mayback Music 3,” “Free Mason”

I bet we agree on the top two albums, but what about the rest? Did your favorites get shortchanged? Let us know below.

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