Feuds with 50 Cent, Trilla’s success, a little controversy, and most importantly, some dope lead singles have combined to make Deeper Than Rap the most anticipated release of 2009 to this point. With hype comes opportunity, as well as high stakes. Most MCs have some sort of dirty laundry that eventually gets aired, destined to detract from their finally managed image, but the great ones make us forget by delivering the goods musically and lyrical. Deeper Than Rap is Rick Ross’ chance to put a lot of bullshit behind him, and his detractors chance to confirm their suspicions and disbeliefs.
So does Ross deliver the goods? Yes. Mostly.
The best tracks off Deeper Than Rap incorporate beautiful production with a lyrical ferocity and charisma from Ross to set the standard for high quality Hip-Hop in 2009. The opener “Mafia Music” combines deep keyboards with a choral wail to provide a cinematic canvas for Ross to celebrate his success and dismiss non-believers. The dynamic, J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League produced, “Rich Off Cocaine,” should be retroactively added to the Scarface soundtrack. It epitomizes the fast-living, illegally influenced, style of South Beach and Ross plays the part: “Money in the mansion, Yayo in another spot/Guns in the attic, Mama helped me put em up/She’ll put em down tell you quick to hit’em up/Load a hundred round, bring it back she’ll fill it up.” He may be faking, but he’s doing a damn good job of it.
Deeper Than Rap also showcases Ross’ continued improvement as an MC rapper. He displays an ability to change up his flow and style at any given moment. Ross emphasizes staccato to great effect on the Caribbean-infused “Yacht Club.” He speeds up with the beat on “All I Really Want,” to keep pace with The-Dream’s choral crooning. And he holds his own next to the album’s A-list guests—only managing to get outshined with a Nasty Nas special on “Usual Suspects.”
Yet, the content is surprisingly shallow, ridiculous at times even, for an album titled Deeper Than Rap. Ross never explores the darker side of the fast life, missing an opportunity to add a dose of reality and depth to the album. This choice makes the end of the album drag as similar tracks and guest choices spawn redundancies. No album in 2009 should have both Foxy Brown and Trina as guests — hearing Trina’s tired boasts on her sexual prowess on “Face,” is an easy pick as the album’s low point. Worse is the album’s reliance on R&B hooks, fine when John Legend croons over the sublime “Magnificent,” but tiresome after the seventh go round. Even the singers seem bored, as the usually competent Ne-Yo can’t come up with anything better to add to the mix than “baby you’re the bosses girl” on the tepid “Bossy Lady.” The album’s essence is reflected in the equally hyped “Maybach Music 2.” Featuring the all-star lineup of Kanye, Lil’ Wayne and T-Pain, the track’s greatness seems preordained. All the pieces are in place, the beat’s appropriately bombastic and Kanye, Weezy and Ross give seminars in shit-talking.
In spite of the distinctive flaws, the album is another tally mark for Ross in claiming his spot as one of the game’s elite. Ross does show considerable growth from his last outing & his ear for production cannot be denied. Despite the improvements, Ross disappoints by refusing to break out of the veneer of “Bawse” mode which leaves the whole experience lacking. While enjoyable, the whole doesn’t quite equal the sum of the parts, which leads to the deflation of the entire buzz cycle. This equation applies for Deeper Than Rap in its entirety.
Rick Ross – “In Cold Blood” Video
Previously Posted — Three/21 Films & Maybach Music – “Deeper Than Rap” Short Film | Rick Ross Feat. The Game, Ja Rule & Fat Joe – “Mafia Music (Remix)” | Rick Ross – “Valley Of Death” & “Down South Hustlaz” | Rick Ross Feat. Kanye West, Lil’ Wayne & T-Pain – “Maybach Music 2? | Rick Ross Feat. Foxy Brown – “Murder Mami” | Three/21 Films & Maybach Music – “Deeper Than Rap” Short Film Trailer | Rick Ross Feat. Nas – “Usual Suspects” | Rick Ross Feat. John Legend – “Magnificent” Video | Rick Ross – “Mafia Music” Video