This Rick Ross album review was written by Peter Shand, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Zoe Anderson.
‘Black Market’ is Grammy-nominated rapper Rick Ross’s eighth studio album. This year has found the rapper embroiled in a bitter lawsuit and a continuing feud with arch nemesis 50 Cent. But he’s kept his fans on their toes on the music side of things releasing two mixtapes ‘Black Dollar’ & ‘Renzel Remixes’. With so much going on it would almost feel like it’s Rozay versus the world. Back against the wall, Ross embraces his tribulations and raps like he can’t afford to lose.
Production comes from people Ross has been working with throughout his career: Streetrunner, Jake One, J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League and J.R. Rotem. He also embraces the new guys as DJ Mustard, Ben Billions and D. Rich, who all lend their sounds to the ‘Market’. Climatically opening with a song featuring now frequent collaborator in JohnLegend ‘Free Enterprise,’ Ross is found wanting answers about his reputation. Once notorious for keeping his private life private, in the midst of his three week jail stint he asks: “So many false allegations, is my image tainted 3 weeks in the hole, as if a nigga heinous?”
‘Smile Mama, Smile’ is one of, if not the, album’s most introspective moments V.ry few Ross projects have found him this open and personal, laying it all out for the world to see. A powerful hook delivered by CeeLo Green utilises production that captures the soul, and relaying the message rapped through the verses. The booming production on ‘Color Money’ delivered by D. Rich its signature Ross upon him coming to the defence of MMG cohort Meek Mill. Engaging in lyrical barbs thrown Drakes way and the guy he’s signed to in the form of Birdman.
Ghostwriting is forever one of the most talked about subjects in rap. None more so than this year thanks to Meek. This clearly doesn’t go unnoticed by Ross, who decides to liberate one of his dark industry secrets in the track amply titled ‘Ghostwriter’, “Lyrics they recite these are words I own every album that I made I did it on my own.”
Over another D. Rich instrumental, Ross ducks and dodges over naming your favorite artist he has wrote for. Telling a cautionary of when he was flown to an exotic location to pen lyrics for an unnamed rapper. ‘Sorry’ featuring Chris Brown is the first single released off the album back in October, and was produced by a re-emerging Scott Storch. Apologies are the topic of conversation from both Brown, given his checkered past, and Ross showing resentment for their past indiscretions.
In the past a fault that’s continually been lobbied towards Ross was is his inability to open up continually, remaining stuck within a certain sound. It’s quite clear though that through this album these remnants have made its way to his ear. Evading all set routes as he ventures outside the comfort zone entrusting different sonics for tracks like ‘Black Opium’ and ‘Peace Sign’. In a world where the protagonist is almost Steph Curry-like, he does eventually fall foul of the back iron in the embodiment of ‘Can’t Say No’ and ‘D.O.P.E’.
This record shows the fortitude of a man angling to make his mama pride emphatically seeking revenge on all foes “Mike Caren a leach you’ll all be deceased” not to mention “Slip-N-Slide fucked me friendship was aborted”. Ross seems to have finally found a formula to please all aspects of his fan base, strategically carving out a new mystic along the discovery. Add this album to his ever growing undeniable catalogue, with this release Ross continues to bury himself deeper into one of raps greatest conversations.