Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Album Review: Rick Ross - God Forgives, I Don't

Is this the classic that Rick Ross, Khaled and the hype would have you believe? Is it the classic that you'd think Rick Ross would produce at his peak? Is it the classic that a line up of Dr. Dre, Jay-Z, Andre 3000, Drake, Usher, Drake & Pharrell would produce? Read on to find out.

After two failed singles ("You TheBoss" & "I Love My Bitches") and a seizure, God Forgives, I Don’t has finally been unleashed. The album’s first track “Pray For Us” is the type of intro that lacks any replay value. The following song “Pirates” feels like a failed attempt at an intro and would not be missed had Ross not included it on the final track listing. Yes it is good to see Dr. Dre, Rick Ross and Jay-Z on the same song (“3Kings”) and it’s even better that they did it over Jake One's production. While “3 Kings” is not a bad track one would expect more from a song featuring such heavy weights.

“Niggas couldn't fuck with my daughter's room” – Jay-Z on “3 Kings”.



Wilson Pickett’s “Shameless” provides the perfect platform for the Cool & Dre produced "Ashamed". Unfortunately Rick Ross's compassion for what he is ashamed of is hard to feel, and it seems he is merely supplying words to fill the gaps between the choruses rather than connecting with the Wilson Pickett sample.

"Maybach Music IV" is the first Maybach Music track in the series without an all star line-up of features. The song is a mess, Ne-Yo babbles and the beat changes along with LA Ried's appearance only add to the confusion. What a shame since the series seemed to be improving with each instalment, until now.

Perhaps one of the most anticipated collaborations on the album was “Sixteen” on which Rick Ross is joined by OutKast’s Andree 3000. Again, it’s great to see Ross and Andre 3000 collaborate, they should produce something special right? Wrong. At 8 minutes the song is excessive and Ross is outshined by Andre rather than complimenting his lyricism.

“A dolphin gone shake his fin, regardless if he gets in
Or out of water, most important thing for him is to swim
And Flipper didn’t hold his nose, so why shall I hold my tongue?” – Andre 3000 on “Sixteen”.

In the second verse on “Amsterdam” Rozay offers a lyrical gem, "I'm laughing at the people that labelled me poor, now I piss on Europeans, you'd think it was porn." That is perhaps the best part and best thing about what is otherwise a skippable song.



Tracks 8 to 10 on God Forgives, I Don’t are the trademark Ross records, so it is unsurprising that these songs have featured prominently in Ross’ online video promotions. Ross & Mill do a bad job of showing any sophistication on the album’s second single "So Sophisticated". It’s a high energy beat with good production and awful lyrics – ideal for the club, where people won’t be listening to the lyrics! “Hold Me Back” is probably the best of these three songs, but it is by no means a good song.



Rick Ross’ opening prayer on “911” is one of the album’s rare moments in which Ross expresses some religious sentiment, even if it is absurd!

"I bow my head, I pray to God
survival of the fittest, help me hold my chopper lord! – Rick Ross on “911”.


The best exploration of this theme is surprisingly offered by Maybach Music’s Stalley on “Ten Jesus Pieces”. Considering the album name one would expect the subject of faith to be explored or mentioned more often than it is.

"no Jesus piece on mine, cause at times I feel ashamed
For the reason that I rhyme
And they say, because I'm Muslim I shouldn't think about the shine
Or even put it in a rhyme
It's better things I could talk about or put my money towards" – Stalley on “Ten Jesus Pieces”.

“Presidential” marks the beginning of the female related section of the album. Robin Thicke would have been ideal for this song but Elijah Blake does a good job adding some Soul to Pharrell’s production. Infact this song does a better job at expressing sophistication than "So Sophisticated".

"her shoe game remarkable
I feel solely responsible" – Rick Ross on “Presidential”.

“Ice Cold” is another of the highlights on God Forgives, I Don’t and Reefa’s beat is infact one of the best on the album. “Ice Cold” is Omarion's first major appearance for Maybach Music & although it's a remake of "Ice Box" on his part - it's a good one.

Unfortunately Rick Ross’ collaboration with Usher, "Touch 'N You", is just a bog standard Rap track for the ladies with an RnB singer on hook. The album version sounds crude, compared to the single version where Usher sang "Touching you" rather than "Fucking You".



Drake seems to bring out the best in Rick Ross, whether it’s “I’m On One”, “Aston Martin Music” or “Lord Knows” the pair know how to make good music together. It is a shame that their joint album is on hold, as that would have been a joy to behold. It then comes as no surprise that “Diced Pineapples” is one of the album’s highlights and is perhaps the only song on the album on which all of the featured artists deliver. Wale shines on this track dropping many gems and the following is an example:

"Let me redefine foreplay so you need five and
Tell me shorty you got it baby" – Wale on “Diced Pineapples”.



HIGHS
“Ashamed”
“Presidential”
“Ice Cold”

LOWS
“Pirates"
“Maybach Music IV”


There are several occasions on God Forgives, I Don’t where it seems as if Rick Ross is struggling to fulfil the expectations that he set - with claims such as this is best body of work so far. It is important to note that Rick Ross is infact a character (his real name is William Roberts and the real Rick Ross even took out a lawsuit against Roberts for using his name!) and songs like “So Sophisticated” show that Roberts has more work to do to make the character more rounded and believable. He does however deserve some credit for assembling the kind of cast that he has for the album – Dr. Dre & Andre 3000 even both found time to make a rare appearance.

So it’s back to the opening questions:
Is this the classic that Ross, Khaled and the hype would have you believe? The album does have some good production notably by Cool & Dre, Reefa, Jake One and Pharrell. There are also some big names involved as featured guests, but once you stop star gazing and get to the nitty gritty it’s evident GFID’s bark is bigger than it’s bite.

Is it the classic that you'd think Ross would produce at his peak? No, perhaps the best example of this is “Maybach Music IV”. The series of Maybach Music songs have until this album been improving album by album. So on what is perhaps the most anticipated album of Rick Ross’ career; one would think that this trend would continue. But that is not true.

Is it the classic that a line up of Dr. Dre, Jay-Z, Andre 3000, Drake, Usher, Drake & Pharrell would produce? As mentioned in my first answer no it is not.

Rating:
Avoid | Stream | Recommend

Please refer to Best In New Music’s Album Rating Guide for a clear explanation of our rating system.

Rick Ross' God Forgives, I Don't is available now on iTunes UK and is released on 31st July on iTunes US. You can also stream God Forgives, I Don't in its entirety now on Spotify.