Rick Ross “Teflon Don” Review
Published in Blog, Culture Bully. Tags: Album Reviews, Music.
Ultimately Teflon Don is about two things: Rick Ross flossin’ his wealth and Rick Ross flaunting his friendships. For those of you with no interest in listening to someone take the better part of an hour to reaffirm their self-worth by showcasing how hard they’re shining: Teflon Don is going to be lost on you. But if you have no qualms with returning to an era of rap that celebrated ridiculous levels of decadence: you’ve come to the right place.
“Blast my record out the windows of your Honda Accord,” Ross recently suggested in an interview with Billboard. “And if anyone gives you grief, you look them right in the eye and tell them Rick Ross told you wealth begins in the heart.” That’s fine advice, but once you’ve reached such a level of wealth as Ross has, he’d likely suggest you ditch the heartfelt sentiment, get some iced out jewelery, and start ridin’ deep. Opening with the J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League-produced “I’m Not A Star,” Ross wastes little time in showcasing his egocentric view on the world, casually revealing his self-perceived place in the the industry, “If I died today remember me like John Lennon.” Despite its title, “I’m Not A Star” is essentially just three minutes of Ross explaining why, in fact, he is a star. Then there’s “Maybach Music III,” the third in a series of songs copping its name from the absurdly elite German car (though to say they’re just “cars” would be doing a Maybach a disservice), “B.M.F.” (which stands for “Blowin’ Money Fast”), “Aston Martin Music,”and “MC Hammer,” where Ross reveals in detail how much money he spends, “Bitch I’m MC Hammer, I’m about cream.” But don’t get Rick Ross wrong, he’s grateful for his lifestyle. “Becoming a young millionaire you can lose sight of the things that’s important to you” he explains in the introduction to “All The Money In The World.” Then again, the references to gratitude are definitely in the minority here.
Serving to complement the album’s lyrical focus on money is the rich roster of talent that joins Ross on Teflon Don, including Raphael Saadiq on “All The Money In The World.” “I’m fortunate enough to socialize with some of the greatest musicians around” he reflected in the same interview with Billboard. Damn right he is. T.I., Jadakiss and Erykah Badu join the MC on the aforementioned “Maybach Music,” Trey Songz & Diddy accompany Ross on “No. 1,” Gucci Mane sits in on “MC Hammer,” Styles P on “B.M.F.,” Drake and Chrisette Michele on “Aston Martin Music,” and even Cee-Lo Green makes an appearance with “Tears of Joy.” Two collaborations rise above the rest however, together standing as the album’s strongest tracks: “Live Fast, Die Young” with Kanye West and “Free Mason” with Jay-Z and John Legend.
Ross isn’t a lyrical slouch on “Live Fast, Die Young,” but the song is primarily held steady due to Kanye’s verse which, while maybe not warranting a “Kanye’s Back!” chant, suggests that his upcoming Good Ass Job release will have some serious flow to it. “My outfit’s so disrespectful/You can go ahead and sneeze ’cause my presence bless you.” On “Free Mason” Ross once again leads the way, this time branding the song as being “For the soldiers that see the sun at midnight.” By no means does the Inkredibles’ production take a back seat to the two superstars however, as an inspirational feeling is added to the track with the tightly knit beat. It’s not until Jay-Z’s verse that the track really peaks though. Lashing out at the reaction which was aimed at his “On To The Next One” video—its abstract symbolism was greeted with accusations of satanism and Freemasonry—Jay immediately digs in, “N*ggas couldn’t do nothing with me, they put the devil on me… Fuck all these fairy tales/Go to hell, this is God engineering… Bitch, I said I was amazing/Not that I’m a Mason… He without sin shall cast the first stone, so y’all look in the mirror double check y’all appearance…Bitch, I’m red hot/I’m on my third six, but a devil I’m not.”
While not on the same level as “Free Mason,” the most telling track on Teflon Don might very well be “Tears of Joy.” The song’s introduction casts an unusual tone early on as we hear a recording of a speech originally delivered by Huey P. Newton, co-founder of the Black Panthers, “Power is the ability to define phenomena and make it act in a desired manner.” This is followed by a series of statements that act as a call to violence to spark change. The words offer little but lost sentiment though as Ross fails to honestly address the recording in the song. Rather, working alongside Cee-Lo’s ever-stunning vocals, he continues with the same flow that is felt throughout various other parts of Teflon Don, appearing to show appreciation for what he has, yet still sneaking in the occasional conceited reference: “Biggie Smalls in the flesh.” By all means he’s a good rapper, but Notorious B.I.G. he is not.
The reason that “Tears of Joy” might best represent Teflon Don, despite being cast among such a quality stream of tracks, is because it displays how truly one dimensional the album is. Even when blatantly trying to shift the song in a new direction, Ross’ lyrics come back to focus on personal wealth. If you were to measure Teflon Don‘s lyrical substance on a scale of 1 – 10, you’d end up with a negative number: there simply isn’t any. But if you measure the album on its ability to showcase a non-stop flow of tremendously tight beats, mixed in with some consistent contributions from some of today’s biggest names, and capped off by a memorable showing on the mic from The Boss, Teflon Don is scoring high.
[This post was first published by Culture Bully.]