If I liked Rick Ross even half as much as I liked making Rick Ross fat jokes, I would be thrilled to review his new album. But I don't so I'm not.
Truth be told, real talk, keeping it one hunnid, if it were up to me, I'd be reviewing one of the other seven million projects released today (seriously go look at how many dropped today), but I'm not. I have this food-analogy loving, beard-rocking boss who makes me do things like get high and listen to rap music. Rap game Lumberg, and this Rick Ross album is my TPS report. Well, maybe it's not as bad as a TPS report; at least I get to make a few Rick Ross fat jokes right?
I'm throwing shade like a palm tree right now, but I have to say, 2014 has been a big year for our relationship. He went from one of my most hated emcees to a dude who, on occasion, I can actually enjoy. He's like jumbo slice (a DC staple) drunk at 2 AM. You know it's bad for you, you know you'll regret it tomorrow, but when you are in the mood it hits the damn spot. Anyway between actually making French Montana and being the inspiration for quite possibly the best Vine in Vine history, I've actually grown to enjoy Ross a little. Like a Jumbo Slice he's perfect when you are in the right state of mind.
So let me get in the right state of mind...
*lathers self in bacon grease, movie theater nacho cheese and funfetti icing*
Okay, now that I'm ready, it's time for 1 Listen album review of Rick Ross' Hood Billionaire. [Editor's Note: If you're new to "1 Listen" album reviews, you might want to start with the original.]
Too long. It's one thing if this was going to be a concept album, but I highly doubt Ross is going to create a cohesive story thorough the whole album. I listen to Ricky for bangers not to hear him digging and walking. Also, it's unrealistic if he isn't breathing heavy after all that exercise.
2. “Hood Billionaire”
Meh. I have a feeling this is going to be how I feel for a large portion of this album. I'm sure there will be one or two cuts that I really fuck with, but the majority will be like...meh. It's not awful, the beat gets me going, but I just don't enjoy it enough to listen to it again. When I do get in the mood for Rick this won't be where I go.
3. “Coke Like the '80s”
Solid sample. Here's one thing I'll give Ross; he has an amazing engineer. His stuff always sounds so crisp and clean. I think it really helps him too. Like this song is pretty underwhelming, but it sounds great. You can really hear all the details and it adds a ton of texture to this. Otherwise, it's a flat song. Also, I would have liked to hear some sort of Scarface sample in here. The song has "Coke" and "80's" in the title but no Tony Montana reference? I've always thought this was an underutalized scene in terms of Scarface samples. But I digress...
Hate to be that guy, but these ad breaks really fucking take me out of my zone...
4. “Heavyweight” (feat. Slab)
I have a headache already. Not a good sign.
So the hook is 90% "ding-ding"?! We're just going to let him say "ding-ding" a bunch of times and pass it off as a hook? Does anyone else notice this?! Don't call me a hater because I love a good boxing-themed hook - "Knock that pussy out like fight night" is Robert Frostesque - but saying "ding-ding" a bunch of times like an angry ice cream truck isn't creative or entertaining. I would have much rather hear him sing about ding-dongs.
5. “Neighborhood Drug Dealer”
I really want to like this because that sample is dope and I was just in a room with Metro Boomin a few weeks ago (#humblebrag), but this is just so the opposite of what I listen to I don't even really know how to judge it. I've been getting into a little trap lately, but this just doesn't do anything for me.
6. “Phone Tap”
Here we go. I can fuck with this. It has a hard-trappy feel but the live instrumentals give it a little more flavor. I just kind of assumed I would hate a song called "Phone Tap" but this slaps like Ross running shirtless. I bet this sounds incredible live. It sounds more like something leftover from Mastermind and I mean that as a good thing. I actually like Mastermind because the beats were much more meaty and sample-driven; this reminds me of that. This is one of those songs that will stay in rotation after I've filtered out all the crud.
7. “Trap Luv” (feat. Yo Gotti)
Typically I have a strict the-less-Yo-Gotti-the-better policy, but this sample is so enticing. It's amazing how beat-dependent Rick Ross is for me. I'll give him credit though, he knows how to pick 'em. There is zero chance I would listen to this song if the beat wasn't really fucking good and it turns out I actually like this one; maybe the best song so far. In fact, I wanted to rewind it back but I couldn't because iTunes is a dick. This is my first time using the first listen thing via iTunes and I have to say it's miserable. Ads every two seconds and no rewind. If you are going to stream it and make me listen to ads, fine but at least let me be able to listen to songs more than once.
8. “Elvis Presley Blvd.” (feat. Project Pat)
Repeating everything he yells, REPEATING EVERYTHING HE YELLS, so he's giving you two chances to get it right. Bold strategy, Cotton, let's se how it plays out. Have to admit, it's good to hear Project Pat again (it's been a while). This album is starting to feel a little overproduced; there's just way to much going on. Way to many voicemails, way to many sirens, and way too many gunshots. I want bangers. If you are going to be Jumbo Slice be Jumbo Slice. Don't try to also be Amsterdam Falafel and Julio's Empanadas.
9. “Movin’ Bass” (feat. JAY Z)
If it weren't for Jay Z I would have skipped this song. Voicemail that takes forever and a beat that sounds way too Magna Carta Holy Grail for my liking. Oh...this is that song everyone was shitting on last week. Yeah, it's not very good at all. How did we go from "Devil Is a Lie" to this?
10. “If They Knew” (feat. K. Michelle)
Is this the other single? Sounds like it. Don't like this at all. I think my Ross lies somewhere between his poppy singles like this and the trappy trap stuff. Unfortunately, he's rarely in the middle. I skipped ahead in the middle of the second verse. Sue me.
11. “Quintessential” (feat. Snoop Dogg)
BOOOOOOORINGGGGGGGG. Look, I'm not really trying hate here. Believe me, I want a few bangers to add to my collection, but if they aren't here I'm not going to pretend to like a song. Even Snoop feels a little lackluster here. This is a drastic step down from Mastermind. I've never been bored by a Rick Ross song before; I've hated songs but I've never been bored.
12. “Keep Doin’ That (Rich Bitch)” [feat. R. Kelly]
That hook is the most simple thing I've ever heard. I normally and kidding when I say this, but I really feel like I could come up with a better hook than R. Kelly sex noises spliced between him saying "fast" and "keep doing that." His verse is ok though...I guess. Same with Ross. The jury is still out on this one. Of course I can't listen to it again because iTunes needs to tell me about American Express instead.
13. “Nickel Rock” (feat. Boosie Badazz)
People are going to shit a brick because people love Boosie, but if you don't love Boosie, you probably won't love this track. Rick Ross is on here too I guess, but mainly...Boosie.
What's this song called again? Seriously this album should just be called "Rick Ross yells the same thing at you over overwhelmingly average beats." Also, 14 tracks in and this is the first Wing Stop reference? That's absurd. I guess it's fitting it's on a song called burn. "That wing stop make my heard burn, burn, burn burn/ THAT WINGSTOP MAKE MY HEART BURN, BURN,BURN, BURN (bawse)."
15. “Family Ties”
Man. Why doesn't he rap over this stuff all the time? Like instead of yelling words at me, he could rap adequately over soulful, creamy beats and make a pretty O.K. album (see Mastermind). If the album had more "Family Ties" and less "Burn" I would have been so much happier. If you ask me Ross' voice just works so well over a more lavish, glossy sound like this.
16. “Brimstone” (feat. Big K.R.I.T.)
Fuck iTunes. Something happened, and now I can't hear literally the only song I had interest in. I've spent the last 20 minutes trying to figure it out and it's literally harder than brain surgery. So I didn't get listen to this one, but I'm pretty sure it goes something like this: Voicemail, cool sample, K.R.I.T killing it and Ross sounding average next to someone like Krizzle. Just an educated guess.
Well if there's two things to take away it's that iTunes "First Play" is about the worst streaming method on the planet and that this should have been a mixtape. There is very little to write home about here, and for the most part it feels very hastily made. Like it was made for the sake of saying he released two albums in one year. 2014 was a big year for our relationship. After Mastermind Ross was like a cheese covered cinnamon bun in that the idea sounds a lot worse than it really is - I'll pretend to be grossed out but I would totally try it - but there is nothing rewarding about this album. Even the standouts don't standout as much on the standouts on Mastermind; I'll be playing "Devil Is A Lie" way more often than "Trap Luv." So I'm not back to hating Ross like I used to, but this certainly didn't do much for me. Bottom line, this isn't worth your money, even if you're a Hood Billionaire.
Still...shout out to pears. Forever shout out to all the pears.
[Lucas Garrison is a writer for DJBooth.net. His favorite album is “College Dropout,” but you can also tweet him your favorite Migos songs at @LucasDJBooth.]