Few rappers embody a sense of majesty and excess stronger than Rick Ross; he’s built an entire career around it. While the Ross-fit aficionado is no stranger to bars about “whippin’ in the kitchin,” Ross has steadily affirmed his position in the rap game from one of the under-lord to the kingpin.
Whether you are a believer of his persona or not (in case you aren’t aware, all signs point to fraudulence), Ross captivates with his ability to explore exorbitance with a level of savvy that most only dream of, and his presentation of Rather You Than Me is no different. The first two tracks alone are composed with such elegance, from the piano and saxophone backing “Apple of My Eye” (prod. By Major Nine) to the chimes and gradient bass on “Santorini Greece” (prod. by Bink! of “Devil in a New Dress” fame). Tracks like these, “3 Kings” from God Forgives, I Don’t or even his feature on Smoke Dza and Pete Rock’s “Black Superhero Car” are when Ross can flex the most, though RYTM does include cuts that see Ross calling out the frauds (somewhat hypocritically), namely Bryan “Birdman” Williams on “Idols Become Rivals.”
Despite the strong start, the middle third section of the album is Ross staying to his tried and true formula: thumping, gangly beats garnished with a few drumline snares alongside his trap colleagues Young Thug, Jeezy, Future, Gucci Mane and Yo Gotti. From “Trap Trap Trap,” to “She on My Dick” Ross compiles a set of material that wouldn’t be out of place on 2010’s Teflon Don. While “I Think She Like Me” is a return to the elegance of the intro, it might be too little too late for critics hoping for something new from Ross.
Feature-wise most tracks aren’t anything to reexamine. Though the Nas feature on “Powers That Be” has highs and lows, it’s nothing compared to his bars on “Nas Album Done.” Subsequently, the Meek Mill verse on “Lamborghini Doors” is reassurance that the kid from Philly isn’t ashamed to show himself after a disastrous past couple of years. Lastly, Dej Loaf has the honor of featuring on another installment of Ross’ “Maybach Music” tracks, continuing with the trend away from the bombastic posse cuts toward more intimate songs with fewer features.
If you haven’t enjoyed Ross’ delivery for the past seven years or so, don’t bother jumping on this. While he comes through with a level of clarity that is exemplary in an era of mumble rap, Ross doesn’t technically sound any different than he did on Mastermind. He even (unintentionally) notes on the intro of “Dead Presidents,” shouting out the fans that have supported since Port Of Miami, and that “ain’t nothing changed,” (interestingly that same track sounds very reminiscent of “I’m Not A Star from Teflon Don). All in all, Rather You Than Me is a very safe release from Rozay, though he somehow manages to make use of the most unnecessary features from Chris Rock I’ve seen since Ludacris’s Theater of the Mind.