Rick Ross hit a rough patch in 2014. He dropped two albums within eight months of each other that clearly didn’t reach his lofty expectations. His latest Black Dollar mixtape, on the other hand, finds Rozay sounding revitalized and almost urgent. Whether it’s the languid but vibrant “Money & Power” or the invigorating “We Gon Make It,” this is the best Ross has sounded in years.
He’s an extravagant imagist, and on Black Dollar he returns to the soundbeds that give his dreams life. Trusty producers Jake One, J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League, and D. Rich provide some of the best beats on the tape, but Ross’ gusto is the star of the show—“Fuck Obamacare, I want a kilo!” he raps on a remake of Hov and Biggie’s “Brooklyn’s Finest.” At his finest Ross is a hustler on the corner, robed in minks, spinning tales of luxury to aspirant onlookers.
Yet his lofty ambitions need to be grounded, and across the tape there are traces of what drives him: “The white man call us stupid niggas/We spend it all, nothing for our children.” That line is from “Foreclosures,” the obvious highlight of the project, and throughout the song he drops jewels for all who care to heed them (“I never met an artist who fully recouped”). This is the Ross we love, a guy who revels in the glory of black affluence while still pulling up those who’ve yet to reach his level.—Andrew