- Pray For Us
- 3 Kings (ft. Dr. Dre & Jay-Z)
- Maybach Music IV (ft. Ne-Yo & LA Reid)
- Sixteen (ft. André 3000)
- Hold Me Back
- So Sophisticated (ft. Meek Mill)
- Presidential (ft. Elijah Blake)
- Ice Cold (ft. Omarion)
- Touch'N You (ft. Usher)
- Diced Pineapples (ft. Wale & Drake)
- Ten Jesus Pieces (ft. Stalley)
Oh, Rick Ross. You told us you sold crack; we found out you were a corrections officer at a prison. Then you told us you sold crack on the moon and put the crack inside of Pomeranians instead of those little vials that crack comes in; we lapped that shit up like a bowl of lobster bisque. You are a glorious, monolithic nincompoop, a living issue of Cigar Aficionado, an angel sent from the Based God to say really ridiculous nonsense about selling drugs with a completely straight face. He reps a car company that folded because they made cars so expensive that nobody bought them. He holds press conferences for no reason. He bragged about riding around in boats until he could actually afford one. GQ hung out with him for 18 hours, and within minutes, he was casually receiving a HJ in front of the writer. Rick Ross, you are perfect, but God forgive me for saying this album isn’t.
The main problem with God Forgives, I Don’t is that Rick Ross already made one of the best records of the year. It was called Rich Forever, and he fucking gave it away for free. Rich Forever is top-to-bottom fight music, Ross transforming into a human .gif, whipping around in a circle and just straight-up bellowing about how he’s going to marry, fuck, and kill everything in sight. Most importantly, it sounded like everyone on the tape was having fun. On God Forgives, I Don’t, it’s clear that Ross is shooting for something more, but what, exactly? GFID sounds alarmingly like Deeper Than Rap, Ross’s velvet-drenched third album, which succeeded mainly off the shock of being like, “Holy fuck, Rick Ross is pretty good at rapping!” Now, we know that Rick Ross can rap. So what are we left with?
There is a certain gangster anti-logic that is Rick Ross’s signature, and as long as he’s got that, he’s incapable of making a truly bad album. When he brags that his girl loves his adlibs, he adlibs the word “adlibs,” because of course he would. He continues his “Maybach Music” posse cut series, but just raps the entire song himself. He says that he’s a pirate and he’s keeping his head above water, just trying to stay afloat on “Pirates,” shouting out Meek Mill only to have Meek show up and yell his own name and not rap. Rick Ross is Jack Sparrow. He’s Tupac. He’s Barry White. He’s Dr. Dre, somewhat more literally, since Dre shows up on “3 Kings” and sounds exactly like Rick Ross (and the less said about Jay-Z’s Max B-referencing, daughter shout-out-ing verse on the song, the better). Ross measures everything in terms of commerce. He’s not local because he opens up Swiss bank accounts. He’s sophisticated, because he has a hundred million dollars. He can count excessive amount of money really quickly; therefore, he is good at math. You get the point.
God Forgives, I Don’t is Rick Ross laying shirtless on a lush bed of roses, eyeing me suggestively through rose-colored Versace sunglasses, gesturing opulently at his various plates of exotic crab meats, casually wiping butter his stomach off with an errant Louis rag. In this tableaux, Meek Mill is watching the door. Wale is refilling Ross’s wine glass full of lean. Stalley’s probably out back, under the hood of the Phantom. Each of these rappers, signed to Rick Ross’s Maybach Music Group imprint, gets a song where Ross caters to their aesthetic in a classic Hey I Hang Out With These Rappers Buy Their Albums move that Jay-Z used to be so good at; Ross hops up off the settee to beat the shit out of somebody with Meek Mill on “So Sophisticated,” he and Stalley get uncomfortably earnest on “Ten Jesus Pieces,” and Wale even gets a chance to do a little poetry-reading-thing on “Diced Pineapple.” He more-or-less ruins the entire song, but at least somebody’s happy.
Ross drops the yacht rap nonsense for a beautiful three-song stretch: the run of “Hold Me Back” to “911” culminating in “So Sophisticated" (ft. Meek Mill), a lurching, hall-of-mirrors mechanocrunk that sounds so modern it fucking hurts. The Rick Ross of those songs is a goddamn maniac. The Rick Ross of those songs hates crushed velvet. The Rick Ross of those songs would punch the Rick Ross of the rest of God Forgives, I Don’t in the fucking face.However, just because Rick Ross aspires to being the last of the famous international playboys doesn’t make God Forgives, I Don’t bad by any means. “Presidential” sounds like something Burt Bacharach would have cooked up. “Touch’N You” is Rick Ross and Usher talking about fucking over a beat that would sound futuristic in 2043, and it’s kind of amazing. There is one song on God Forgives, I Don’t where the Rick Ross who exists in Rick Ross’s mind and the Rick Ross who exists in the physical universe meet. That’s on the André 3000-featuring “Sixteen,” where Ross just absolutely blacks out, rapping the Rick Rossiest raps he’s ever rapped (turkey bacon, yachts, comparing himself to Etta James, successfully pulling off an Eric Clapton reference, etc.) for a straight minute and a half. André does the same thing, continuing his stretch of absolutely killer guest turns on high-profile hip-hop/R&B releases. Then, probably because he’s playing Jimi Hendrix in that new biopic thingy, André pulls his guitar out of nowhere and plays. It’s kind of a shitty and lame solo, but in Rick Ross’s world, it can be anything he wants it to be.
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