Discography Check: Rick Ross

By @TrueGodImmortal 

For many, Rick Ross has established himself as a top rapper in the game over the last 10 years or so. While he wasn't initially taken too serious with his debut album, Ross is a shining example of finding your lane and growing within it. Though he isn't a superior lyricist or even the most engaging wordsmith, what Ross has done over the last 10 years or so is remain consistent. One big reason for that is his consistent string of albums over the years, all stick to a very similar formula when being created. With about 9 studio albums of this formula and a select few "important" mixtapes under his belt, I wanted to stop and take a look at Ross and his catalog. Are any of his albums classics? Does he have a number of lackluster projects? Is he one of the most consistent in the game today? That's what I'm here to take a look at with a brand new discography check on Rick Ross. Surprised that I did a discography check on Ross and his music? You shouldn't be. Let's get into it.
*Port of Miami (2006)

-His debut album was interesting to me. I knew very little about Ross at that time, and my first impression of his first single "Hustlin" wasn't really special. Standard trap style rap anthem with a catchy hook and extremely catchy lines ("whip it real hard, whip it, whip it", etc) in the verses. I didn't expect very much from this album when I first gave it a listen and while I wasn't necessarily impressed, I did enjoy the album. I remember going to the local bootleg man (ah, the good days), and buying a copy for 3 dollars (yes, I'm admittedly to buying bootleg albums, and I'm not ashamed of this at all), and putting the CD in my Walkman. Yes, it was 2006 and iPods were becoming the wave and things were rapidly changing, but I still had a CD Walkman that I would proudly listen to. For me, Port of Miami was the 2006 version of Jeezy's album, not in terms of having the same content necessarily, but there was a big similarity amongst the two, so much so that Jeezy hopped on the "Hustlin" remix. With that in mind, I listened to the album intently, and though I got nothing from the lyrics aside from the clichéd street tale, I enjoyed it. My favorite song on the album was the Scarface inspired and sampled "Push It", which is still a favorite Ross track of mine. The album does have a period in the middle where it gets boring and slightly repetitive, as I feel 19 tracks is a bit too long for an album from Ross considering the lack of diversity in his content, but I still think this is a really good album for entertainment purposes. Tracks like "Pots and Pans", "White House", and "Street Life" might not offer anything in terms of actual substance, but it doesn't need to. Ross is comfortable in that lane and he executes it almost perfectly on this album, minus a few missteps.

Top 3 Songs 
"Push It"
"White House"

*Trilla (2008)

-I remember I was actually looking forward to his second album, because I actually enjoyed his debut. I think the misconception about Ross and his music is that it's really top tier, when in reality, it's solid at best with immaculate production. Honestly, there's nothing wrong with that, but he's never been a premier lyricist and I don't think anyone should expect him to be. With that being said, I feel like his 2nd album lacks any signs of hunger and falls short of the "standard" that Port of Miami set. He keeps what I feel he looked at as the "Miami" sound here, working with producers such as DJ Nasty and LVM, The Runners, J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League, JR Rotem, and more, who provide him with the backdrops that sound like the place Ross reps so much. This is lyrically his most lazy effort, and perhaps the big success had made Ross lose a bit of that hunger he once possessed, but for the most part, this album misses. Tracks like "Money Make Me Come", "We Shinin", the original "Maybach Music" featuring Jay-Z, and the posse cut of "Luxury Tax" with features from Lil Wayne, Trick Daddy, and Young Jeezy are standouts, but they are mostly the only ones on this 15 track album. Trilla isn't a bad album, it's just a very lazy album and I think Ross knows this looking back on it.

Top 3 Songs 
"Money Make Me Come"
"We Shinin"
"Luxury Tax"

*Deeper Than Rap (2009)

-After engaging in an intense beef with 50 Cent, Ross utilized the attention and the growing backlash against 50 to gain more supporters. Whether or not he actually won the beef (I think 50 won from a music and overall standpoint, but Ross clearly gained the most leverage), Ross became a rising star even more so following this. He used this beef to fuel him and push him to a new level, and he released his third album, Deeper Than Rap, which depending on who you ask, is a classic. I don't actually find this album to be a classic, but it is a step up from the uneven sound of Trilla. This is where Ross finally hits his new level of comfort and he would reside in that level for the last 8 years or so. Big anthems, street tales, and resounding production that allows him to spit his "abstract" brand of lyricism. This album features production from the likes of the J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League, The Runners, DJ Toomp, and more alongside solid features from John Legend on the first single "Magnificent", The Dream on "All I Really Want", Nas on "Usual Suspects", and of course the continuation of the series with "Maybach Music Part 2" that features T-Pain, Kanye West, and Lil Wayne. My only issue with this album is basically my issue with most Ross projects: way too many features and a lack of differing in the feel and sound. It all flows cohesively for the most part, but it's your standard Ross album with a bit more lush production than Trilla. Deeper Than Rap is a good album, and definitely one of Ross' best, but it is not a classic.

Top 3 Songs 
"Usual Suspects"
"Maybach Music Part 2"
"Valley Of Death"

*The Albert Anatasia EP (2010)

-One of his more heralded free projects, I included this because of what it represents to his career. It was yet another turning point for Ross as his name and stature continued to grow and this EP was a big reason for that as well. As a project, it's solid, and I feel like that's the word to sum up Rick Ross and his career in general: solid. It features a number of tracks that would later appear on Teflon Don, as this EP was essentially the prequel to it, but there's still enough music here to vibe with and enjoy. Is this one of his best works? Not exactly, but it's one of the most vital to his growth as an artist and his star power, thus it matters here in his discography.

Top 3 Songs
"300 Soldiers"
"Sweet Life"
"Knife Fight"

*Teflon Don (2010)

-Surprise, surprise: this is my favorite album from Ross. It has far too many guest appearances as expected, but there's something about this album that just flows perfectly. I look at this album as the true turning point in his career, as his ear for beats reached the apex on this album, and his knack for anthems hit the highest point. It should be no surprise that this was during the era where Ross would really get MMG moving as a crew, bringing in Meek Mill, Wale, and at the time, Pill. This album is essentially the starting point for that MMG run of "dominance", and it catapulted Ross to a bigger level of star power. As for the album itself, it featured some amazing production from the likes of Lex Luger, Kanye West, Clark Kent, Danja, No I.D. and more, finding the perfect blend between Miami trap music and soulful hip hop beats. The lush production on this album is what really carries to the next level, and it plays upon hot button issues at the moment from the Free Mason/Illuminati rumors (he cleverly plays off of that with the aptly titled "Free Mason" featuring John Legend and Jay-Z) to the massive hits that his credibility took during the beef with 50 (he doesn't address it head on, but songs like the Styles P assisted "B.M.F." seem to try and put Ross back at a street kingpin level), Ross leaves no stone unturned. Tracks like the Gucci Mane assisted "MC Hammer", the third "Maybach Music" with Erykah Badu, Jadakiss, and T.I., and the Cee-Lo Green assisted "Tears of Joy" all help to round out a very solid album that isn't necessarily a classic musically, but could be considered one based on the impact it had on Ross' career and where it allowed to go afterwards.

Top 3 Songs
"Maybach Music III"
"Aston Martin Music"

*Ashes To Ashes (2010)

-After the two projects that began taking him higher in stature, Ross gave back to the fans so to speak with this free album/mixtape, but it sounds much like the albums and EP he just released. That's not necessarily a knock as the project is definitely enjoyable but it adds nothing to what we know about Ross as an artist and is about as cliche as it gets, even for him. Still, we get to see the official formation of MMG on the Meek Mill, Wale, and Chester French, assisted "Play Your Part", along with the Drake assisted "Made Men", the street hits "9 Piece" and "John Doe", along with the Ludacris featured "Black Man's Dream", all of which make this an enjoyable but standard listen.

Top 3 Songs 
"9 Piece"
"Made Men"
"John Doe"

*Rich Forever (2012)

-This is essentially one of the better mixtapes/free albums that's been released in the 2010s. Make no mistake, Ross makes a particular style of music and it's not for everyone, but he comes as close as he ever has on this tape to a perfect project in the eyes of many. I find the project to be a fun listen, but it sets the tone for his next album and features some tracks that would make onto his next project anyways. My only issue with Rich Forever is the exhausting tracklist at 20 songs, as it can be a bit too much, but with features from Styles P, Nas, John Legend, Pharrell, Wale, French Montana, Drake, Diddy, 2 Chainz, Future, and more, there's enough variety in style and voices to make it flow pretty well. This project features the hit song with Drake and French Montana "Stay Schemin", and the Nas assisted classic "Triple Beam Dreams". While Rich Forever isn't a classic in my eyes, I can see why some would consider it that. It's a very solid project overall.

Top 3 Songs 
"Stay Schemin"
"Triple Beam Dreams"
"MMG Untouchable"

*God Forgives, I Don't (2012)

-Most people have differing views on this album. I think it's a top 3 Ross album overall. If I had to rank them, I'd choose Teflon Don, Rather You Than Me, and God Forgives I Don't. The thing about this album is that it showcases Ross in what is likely his musical prime and this album doesn't disappoint very much. This album features some of my favorite Ross tracks from the Andre 3000 scorcher "Sixteen" to the street single "Hold Me Back", and the booming track "Pirates", all of which are favorites of mine from Ross. There's also the Wale and Drake assisted "Diced Pineapples" and the Jay-Z and Dr. Dre featured "3 Kings", both of which are mega records and represent a big moment for Ross in his career. There's a few tracks that miss the mark on this album but for the most part, Ross excels doing exactly what he does best and that's (in the words of the legendary Lavar Ball) stay in his lane.

Top 3 Songs 
"Hold Me Back"

*Mastermind (2014)

-I actually think this album is good, but it's slightly boring. It doesn't possess the vibe and feel of his previous projects and it sort begins the slow decline of Ross and his music, even though I didn't think it was possible. Ross sticks to his lane very well, and he doesn't venture away from that lane much here at all, but what is different is the fact that the songs lack something. Whether it's hunger, originality, or whatever it may be, it just lacks in many of the songs. On the flip side however, when the album does connect well with the music, it's a great listen, from the Jay-Z assisted single and anthem "The Devil Is A Lie" along with the Jeezy assisted "War Ready", and the Kanye West and Big Sean assisted soulful banger "Sanctified". Mastermind is a middle of the road album from Ross, as it isn't bad by any stretch, but it's a bit far from great. It's definitely an album you can listen to once, maybe twice, but the replay value seems to lack tremendously.

Top 3 Songs 
"The Devil Is A Lie"
"War Ready"

*Hood Billionaire (2014)

-I don't dislike this album. I don't love this album. I think it's enjoyable to listen to and it has some good songs, but much like Mastermind, it doesn't do much for me overall. I think it has some very solid production courtesy of Metro Boomin, Beat Billionaire, Big K.R.I.T., DJ Toomp, and even Timbaland, but something about this album just feels off. It's missing something. The street tales feel more forced than usual this go round, something that is actually surprising even for Ross. I do enjoy the features from K.R.I.T., Boosie, Snoop, and some others, but the track with Jay-Z titled "Movin Bass" is a huge disappointment, as is the actual title track. The Protect Pat featured single "Elvis Presley Blvd" is actually very enjoyable and one of my favorites, and there's a few other tracks that hit hard, but this album ends up residing right in the middle of his discography. It's not one of his worst per se, and it's definitely not one of his best.

Top 3 Songs 
"Neighborhood Drug Dealer"
"Elvis Presley Blvd"

*Black Market (2015)

-I remember I avoided listening to this album when it first came out. I unfortunately didn't have much interest in the album at the time and it seemed like Ross was rushing out project after project to keep the MMG name alive as Wale had his own struggles and Meek was dealing with the Drake beef at the time. After the release of the surprisingly superior "Black Dollar" mixtape (not reviewed here) months prior, this album falls short of what I assume were expectations. It's once again the same album over and over again for Ross, a trend he's fallen into over the last 5 or 6 years since reaching success. It's grand instrumentation and sampling, alongside popular singers on hooks and top tier rappers on features, all crafting songs mostly about the same things. As much as that can get repetitive, Ross still manages to pull off projects with great tracks on them, and in this case, he does that a few times, as there are some really fun songs on this album. Still, Black Market doesn't stick out in his catalog, and much like the last two before, perhaps Ross should have just taken a break instead of making another album of the exact same formula.

Top 3 Songs 
"One Of Us"
"Black Opium"
"Money Dance"

*Rather You Than Me (2017)

-His most recent album is one that sees Ross in a familiar and comfortable position as an artist on an album, at least from a production standpoint. His flow is as fluid as it has been in his career on this album, and despite having some missteps here and there, I don't think this album disappoints. Ross stays in his lane, and truthfully, in an era of autotuned singers, pop-rap production, and too many sing songy tracks, the vibe Ross brings is surprisingly much more welcomed now. The lush samples and instrumentation on this album are really what help elevate it over being a standard Ross album, as the production here might be his best ever. Lyrically and verse wise, we get more of the same from Ross, but it flows together very well and rather cohesively. Going with lesser known producers this go round, there is a blend of trap anthems and soulful rhythms, and some great guest appearances from the likes of Raphael Saadiq, Future, Young Jeezy, Yo Gotti, Nas, Wale, Young Thug, Gucci Mane, Ty Dolla Sign and even Chris Rock among others. The album gained press for the Birdman diss track "Idols Become Rivals", and there are other tracks like "Santorini Greece", "Scientology", "Game Ain't Based On Sympathy", and a few tracks that just sound absolutely amazing. It's pretty seamless how Ross floats over these tracks and how well put together this album is. Is it a classic? No. Is it very solid? Yes. Is it one of his best yet? Definitely. That's the thing with Rick Ross and his catalog. There's no undeniable classics musically, but there's a lot of solid and enjoyable music and albums throughout his discography. He's consistent. In his own way and that's what works for Ross and I assume it will continue to work for Ross on his next project, which is rumored to be Port of Miami 2. Only time will tell.

Top 3 Songs 
"Game Ain't Based On Sympathy"
"Idols Become Rivals"



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