If you peeked down at the score before you read this, and you’re eyeballing these words with the screwface on, thinking “C’mon, son,” then this review is for you. This year is a tough time for your kind. You miss rap’s golden era, when you couldn’t light a match without singeing the eyebrows of 10 super-lyrical MCs with records doing well on the charts. You like your MCs whip-smart. You want your songs to make you think. There’s a message in your music. This is not your year. Artists like Big Boi and the Roots are making amazing music, but they’re kinda bricking on the charts. Meanwhile, guys like Gucci Mane, Drake, Young Jeezy, and Rick Ross are the toast of the rap game. The lunatics have taken over the asylum. What I’m about to tell you isn’t going to make you happy. Hell, the stentorian backpacker version of me from a couple years back would’ve vomited actual bile if he read this. Anyways, here goes: the new Rick Ross is out, and it’s pretty good. This isn’t so much a review of it as it is a list of irrefutable reasons why Teflon Don is just as good as whatever your Last.fm’s scrobbling right now. Hear me out:
The beats are ridiculous. Ross’s production team blessed him. Teflon Don is yacht rap’s manifesto. Lex Luger’s beat for “MC Hammer” is cut from the same cloth as the titanic, hood gothic aesthetic that vaulted Young Jeezy onto the charts. The relentless, plodding “B.M.F. (Blowin’ Money Fast)” sounds like it was recorded live from a steel mill. J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League, No ID, and Kanye West provide tracks full of lush, orchestrated boom bap that sounds every bit as lavish as the glamour life Rozay details in his lyrics. I know a gaggle of rappers are foaming at the mouth for the instrumentals to be liberated.
The album is mercifully concise. For a modern day major label rap album, Teflon Don is lean and relatively fat free, Ross’s tits and gut notwithstanding. He doesn’t need 80 minutes of intros, outros, skits, and shoutouts to get his point across. Eleven tracks, 50 minutes, and he’s out. Here’s hoping Teflon Don kicks off a trend of shorter albums. There’s entirely too much chaff on record these days.
The guest list is tremendous. Jay-Z. Kanye West. T.I.. Drake. Cee-Lo. Chrisette Michele. Raphael Saadiq. John Legend. Erykah fucking Badu. Are you not entertained?
Ross may not be the best rapper, but he’s got a great voice, and he’s consistently entertaining on record. Rick Ross not a lyrical MC by any stretch of the imagination. No ID and Cee-Lo toss him the soulful showstopper “Tears of Joy”, and he drops lines like “I wanna walk in the image of Christ/ But that bitch Vivica’s nice.” Foolish? Sure. Hilarious? Fuck yeah. Teflon Don’s subject matter is pretty basic: guns, coke, money, cars, pussy. But Ross’s drug dealer superhero persona is so wholly over the top and funny it’s hard to stop chuckling and find fault in it. He’s riding dirty, but his dick is clean. You mad?
Rick Ross knows that you know that this crack rap shit is a joke, and he doesn’t care. Modern rap’s biggest myth is authenticity. Somewhere along the line it became customary to take every rapper at his word. Be real, though: these guys aren’t doing half the shit they’re talking about on record. What drug dealer has time to go into a studio and write songs about dealing drugs? Motherfuckers gotta re-up! Ross especially had this point driven home when he stumbled into a tiff with 50 Cent, and 50, as is his custom, rummaged through his opponent’s life, family, and background only to discover that Ross had spent time working as, of all things, a corrections officer. A revelation of that magnitude would have crushed most rappers’ careers. Instead of crawling home, tail between his legs, Ross pulled an R. Kelly — faced with the scandal of a lifetime, he soldiered on with the music with a wink and a nudge, outrageous as ever. He doesn’t think he’s Big Meech or Larry Hoover or John “Teflon Don” Gotti or “Freeway” Ricky Ross. It’s just a character he plays. This isn’t his autobiography. These are just songs that he sings. The Teflon Don moniker makes sense, though. The guy’s unsinkable.
Bottom line is: if you don’t like Teflon Don, you don’t like fun. Lighten up. Live a little. Take off the backpack. That shit is too heavy, and it’s too damn hot in the club to be rocking the Jansport. Life’s too short to listen to music about how hard life is all day. Grab a drink. Get extravagant. We out.
4 out of 5