After several plays, what Rick Ross has mastered is hard to define. The intro offers a description of the term ‘mastermind’ but the album adds little context to this.
“First of all, it is the principal through which you may borrow and use the education, the experience, the influence and perhaps the capital of other people in carrying out your own plans in life. It is the principle through which you can accomplish in one year more than you could accomplish without it in the lifetime if you depend entirely upon your own efforts for success” – Napoleon Hill on “Intro”
Rick Ross’ previous album God Forgives, I Don’t was released at a time when he was in the prime of his career. Unfortunately it failed to live up to the hype and was pretty forgettable apart from a handful of songs. The same can be said for Rick Ross’ follow up effort, Mastermind. This is Rick Ross’ sixth solo album and by now you’d think that he’d mastered the art of making a good album; especially considering the album’s title!
Not until the last two songs does Mastermind come alive, before that the music is average at best. When you think of Rick Ross, you imagine songs like the Meek Mill assisted “Walkin’ On Air”. What a shame that it comes so late in on the album, as one of the things Mastermind is missing is the classic Rick Ross sound and feel.
The album’s final song “Thug Cry” is another one it’s best songs even though Lil Wayne is not on his best form. Rick Ross shows another side as his tales of being the ‘bawse’ can get a bit much especially with this being his sixth solo album.
“200 acres estates, a young nigga made it” – Rick Ross on “Thug Cry”
“Shots Fired” serves as an interlude to Rick Ross’ cover of Biggie’s “You’re Nobody (Til Somebody Kills You)”. The cover is not as good as the original and Ross seems restricted while trying to mimic Biggie’s slower flow. But the production and chorus illicit the original which was pretty damn good; Diddy (or Puff Daddy as he is referred to on the album’s credits) appears on the track and also produced both versions of the song giving Ross the necessary co-sign needed when taking on a Biggie song.
French Montana and Rick Ross are once again heavily influenced by classic New York Hip Hop on “What A Shame”. The opening bars borrow from Wu Tang Clan’s “Shame On A Nigga”. Alot can be taken from the fact that this is one of the album’s best songs as it is actually not that good a song when compared to real quality.
A song title such as “The Devil is A Lie” is hardly the type of thing that one would be drawn to when picking an album’s lead single, but that was the case for Rick Ross’ Mastermind album. Given the song’s quality this was not a wise choice, the fact that Jay-Z is featured on the song probably had alot to do with this decision.
The “Dope Bitch Skit” is far too long for it’s good, it doesn’t need to be so long reducing it by two thirds would have made the point far better than the three minute yawn fest that we’re left with. This is an interlude to “In Vein” and by now in the album you’re left thinking ‘The Weeknd makes good music surely this can’t be bad – can it?’. Im sorry to say that it’s just as bad as the rest of this album, “In Vein” sounds like a sad, slow Weeknd song featuring Rick Ross rather than the opposite.
I was hoping that Rick Ross had learnt from God Forgives, I Don’t but he hasn’t; Mastermind is a bad album. Even the likes of Kanye West, P Diddy, Mike Will Made It, The Weeknd, Scott Storch and Jake One couldn’t rescue this weak effort. Maybe it’s time that we give Rick Ross some of his own medicine and stopped forgiving him for putting out such rubbish?