Richer Than I Ever Been - Rick Ross
Rick Ross is an artist that I have always enjoyed for his incredible features on songs like Devil In A New Dress and Money In The Grave, but I have yet to check out a full-length studio album from him until now. Richer Than I Ever Been is Ross's eleventh studio album in his nearly two decade long career. After hearing the first single to the album, Outlawz, I was really excited for this project as the production and rapping on that song is great. Rozay has always intrigued me as a rapper as he isn't the most versatile artist but what he does works well.
Ross decides to kick the album off with a message from Willie Falcon in prison, thanking Ross for all of the support he's shown for him in his time of need, on this first song, Little Havana. The instrumental is climactic, lavish and home to one of Rozay's best verses on the record. He has good rhymes, introspective lyrics and surprisingly fun vocal inflections, with The-Dream adding some of his signature beautiful vocals to the track. Following up the intro, The Pulitzer has an eerie and hollow instrumental that allows for Ross to completely dominate the track with his boastful delivery. He brings the braggadocious lyricism he's known for and is able to stand out in the best way possible. Rapper Estates is like a victory lap for Rick Ross and Benny The Butcher with triumphant horns on this instrumental complimented by woeful tales of both artist's luxurious lives.
Similar to The Pulitzer, Marathon has an eerie but ominous beat where Ross lowers his tone and goes for a faster flow than usual. His rhymes here are solid and is of course rapping about his prosperous lifestyle but is able to incorporate some topical bars here and there. Ross's relentless flow on this track makes it one of the most memorable. Warm Words in a Cold World is a super classy track with a jazzy, soulful and dynamic instrumental and a stone cold delivery from Ross. Wale comes through with a passionate verse, flexing about his lifestyle similar to Ross's. Future does similar with a just as, if not more passionate delivery to complete this great song.
Wiggle has a fast paced trap beat with Ross giving us his staple, loud delivery, as well as more fun and unique vocal inflections. The lyricism is less competent than the rest of the album and the redundant chorus that painfully rips off Jason Derulo's early 2010's hit Wiggle are not doing the song any favors. DreamDoll gives a decent verse void of any depth, chalking this up to a wannabe trap banger. Can't Be Broken also falls into the abyss of wanting to sound like a popular trap song, and though it's not bad, it's not as great as the rest of the album. Yungeen Ace and Major Nine are both alright on this song, and Ross was good but his verse was too short. I am not a fan of the trend of artists putting painfully average melotrap songs on their albums.
On Made It Out Alive Blxst gives us one of the best and most heartfelt choruses on the album. The luxuriously climactic beat creates the perfect conditions for not one, but two dangerously great verses from Rick Ross. His bars and rhyme schemes are good here and he comes with another relentless flow. The first single released prior to the album, Outlawz, still holds up as one of, if not the best on this project. The instrumental is bold and elegant with haunting soul samples woven in. Ross puts his lyrical ability on display and Jazmine Sullivan gives us a powerful chorus, but the real star of the show here is 21 Savage. He comes through with a vicious but also mature flow, reflecting on his past life and delivering clever one liners.
Imperial High is a good Rick Ross song where he raps about his wealth and previous drug problems he had. It is an enjoyable song but it is pretty run of the mill. The title track Richer Than I Ever Been is one of the least enjoyable on the album, though there are few and far in between of those. The instrumental is intricate with ominous piano keys and booming drums, Ross's verses aren't bad either. It is that annoying and repetitive hook where he just reiterates that he's richer than he's ever been. The closing track, Hella Smoke has some pretty good storytelling from Ross as well as some fun flow switches. Ross gives one of his best performances on the album here and Wiz Khalifa manages to keep up with him on the tail end of the track. Though it doesn't feel like an outro there wasn't much of a narrative for Rozay to bring an end to.
Though Rick Ross is not known for his lyrical ability he proves that he does have above-average to good lyrics in his raps, as well as the ability to concoct a good rhyme scheme. Most of the features made enjoyable contributions that improved the quality of the songs. The production constantly felt bigger than life, complimentary to how Rick Ross raps about his life of luxury. Well being known for his signature loud and bombastic delivery, Ross proves he's not a one trick pony with his ability to dial it down on the deep cuts. Rick Ross demonstrates why he is worthy of your respect and drops one of the better albums I've heard this year.