Sometime around the July 2010 release of Teflon Don, Rick Ross went from a middling rapper some listeners cared about to a middling rapper that everyone apparently cared about. It took four albums, but the Maybach Music Group leader finally reached his own tipping point. People began to forget about the whole former corrections officer thing. Not even 50 Cent, one of the biggest bullies in hip-hop, could take down the bawse.
For a while there, everything was going right for Rozay. Even the most angst-filled hip-hop heads—myself included!—let their “to hell with fake rap” shields down and embraced the lovable Miami native. There was something … almost innocent about his larger-than-life appeal.
Sure, his rhymes, beat choices, and approach have become altogether monotonous. But back in 2010, things were different. A huge weight of debt is owed to Lex Luger, whose one-two punch of basically the same song (“MC Hammer” and “B.M.F.“) helped propel Ross into a different stratosphere of hip-hop fame. “Aston Martin Music“, which featured Chrisette Michele and a then-fully blossoming Drake, didn’t hurt either. The same goes for the onslaught of remixes and “freestyles” over Ross’ collection of beats, particularly Luger’s. Lest we forget that he adopted that sound from trap mainstays like Shawty Redd and Zaytoven, but theirs never really captured the rap world like “B.M.F.”.
The acclaim showered upon Teflon Don was universal, save a few dissidents who can still be seen frequenting Rozay posts with coolers filled with ice cold hater-ade. What would follow were some choice guest appearances (Kanye West’s “Devil in a New Dress” remains one of Ross’ finest moments), a shoulder-shrugging mixtape (Ashes to Ashes), and an eventual tiptoe into his downfall.
In the first four months of 2011, Ross would begin to expand his Maybach Music empire outside of the Triple C’s (Gunplay being the only other notable member), recruiting and signing then little known rappers Wale, Stalley, and Meek Mill. Oh, and Pill too, who– despite appearing on the cover of the crew’s first compilation, taking part in various press conferences, and everything else minus actually putting ink to paper– was gradually ostracized from the group.
At this point, it was starting to become clear that Ross was spreading himself too thin, hustling perhaps too hard for his own good. Maybach Music Group’s Self-Made Vol. 1 was a mess, from its recycled-sounding beats to its flawed solo tracks—especially Pill’s awkward stripper anthem. It also exposed Wale as a shallow chameleon of sorts, as he abandoned his more soulful approach for empty rhymes about money, women, and drugs (crucial elements to MMG’s canon)
Despite all of this, Ross remained relevant and, for better or for worse, extremely prevalent. His songs played in heavy rotation on multiple radio stations and music blogs drowned in his name. Magazines were swooping in to throw his tattooed spectacle of a body on any and every cover they could. Even Rolling Stone hopped on the bandwagon, declaring Rozay a “Gangster of Love.” And yet amid all of the press and hype, the singles put forth from Ross’ follow up to Teflon Don floundered. Remember “You The Boss” and “I Love My Bitches”? Probably, but only for how tacky and boring they both were, though I admittedly dug Just Blaze’s beat on the latter.
Were the magazines and blogs wrong in covering his every move? Not necessarily. Despite not doing anything for his solo career in 2011, Ross was in fact building a seemingly formidable rap empire. That would change, of course, when Ross’ Rich Forever mixtape arrived six days into 2012. It set an incredibly high standard not just for Rozay, but for any project coming from his ever-growing camp. “Stay Schemin’”, dreadful French Montana hook aside, was one of the year’s best radio singles and also received our attention for fueling the whole Drake vs. Common thing that fell apart before it really started.
Meanwhile, Ross was still trying to release his next album, God Forgives, I Don’t. This meant more singles, including the way too visual “Touch ‘N You” with Usher, followed by one of the most overblown press conferences in recent memory. Ross and various members of Maybach Music Group sat in front of a room full of rap journalists with Rap Radar’s Elliott Wilson playing host only to announce that Omarion (who briefly went by the hilariously terrible Maybach O alias) had joined the squad. Oh … OK. Another questionable signing came a few months later when Ross signed buzzing (and boring) Chicago rapper Rockie Fresh.
Flash forward several disappointing Rick Ross releases to today. While each project had its moments, nothing from Ross’ album God Forgives, I Don’t, the Self-Made Vol. 2 compilation, nor The Black Bar Mitzvah mixtape resonated or remained in rotation for long. But the saga continues– Ross is scheduled to drop his sixth studio album this year, the not-so-aptly titled Mastermind. And as we reluctantly await another bloated, overbearing promotional cycle, I realize I have hit my limit.
While we don’t really cover Ross at Potholes outside of album reviews and occasional track postings when he corrals some high-profile guests, the man’s every move is still covered ad nausem across the internet. I say, enough. Here are my 12 reasons why Rick Ross should take the year off.