Rick Ross‘ eighth studio album Black Market continues the glossy, cinematic style the Maybach Music Group head honcho has developed, crafted and maintained since his 2006 debut album Port Of Miami. The textured, rich production that Ross has made his own, and is also a characteristic of the wider music being released through his label, is evident on this album, along with a renewed polished maturity.
Something which was absent on the hard-hitting unapologetically street themed LPs Mastermind and Hood Billionaire, Ross’ previous two albums which were both released last year. Ross has overcome a number of setbacks and obstacles; a number of legal issues, high profile rap beefs and some accusations regarding his past employment and drug kingpin claims. He hasn’t really taken a knock though, and his productivity is only on the increase.
“Free Enterprise” is intelligent and passionate, and the instrumental is majestically produced by StreetRunner and DJ Khaled; the emotive strings and powerfully delivered lyricism from Ross (he raps “Assassinate Trump like I’m Zimmerman” in the standout second verse) is topped off by a quality performance from John Legend. Ross’ writing has stepped up here. Since his 2006 debut, he’s maintained a smooth flow, and his voice is one of the more decisive ones on the mainstream circuit, but he’s rarely strayed from the materialistic, drug-kingpin tales and sheer braggadocio that has become synonymous with Rozay’s output. He doesn’t necessarily reinvent the wheel on Black Market, but there are definitely more creative concepts and references here.
“One Of Us” features Nas; Ross and Escobar have definitely shown their chemistry on previous collaborations such as “Usual Suspects”, and the anthemic beat and authoritatively precise spitting from both MCs make the track a success. Black Market isn’t without its controversy; “Color Money” takes shots at Drake and Birdman, and although Ross’ frantic lyricism is impressive, the track itself falls a little flat, and this results in it being somewhat forgettable. “Crocodile Python” features a convincing and introspective appearance from Renzel, and with a subtle, textured and musical instrumental backing him, the sound of success rings out across this LP.
The grandiose sonics, and lavish imagery conjured up by the MMG boss in his lyrical content, have both been key aspects of his career, and it is no different on this album. There is however more reflection here than on some of his previous projects. He also recruits the legendary DJ Premier for some scratches on the Black Metaphor produced “Black Opium”. The back end of the album features the inevitable R&B crossover cuts; Ross enlists Mariah Carey for “Can’t Say No”, Mary J. Blige for “Very Best” and Chris Brown for the album’s lead single “Sorry”.
Black Market is a pretty standard Rick Ross album; the production is layered and soulful, Ross’ flow is smooth and authoritative and his content, for the most part, is standardly mafioso. The subject matter of tracks like “Sorry” or “Smile Mama, Smile” do show a more personal, thoughtful side of the MMG boss too; all in all Black Market is another project to add to a growing solid discography.
He is grandiose in everything he does, from his lyrical content, to his label’s ethos, to the way he carries himself, and it’s at the very least intoxicating and entertaining. Although the musical and artistic growth isn’t huge, Ross’ standing in hip-hop has ballooned since his 2006 debut album; Maybach Music Group is one of the most powerful movements in American rap music, and high profile guest appearances are a regular occurrence on Rozay LPs. You can’t deny he’s been putting in the work. Purchase Rick Ross’ Black Market on iTunes here.
Words by Samuel Bennett