Rick Ross is a household name in today’s Hip-Hop scene. While this is partially because he raps well (at times), it is also largely due to the fact that he has established an image of rap royalty and a mafioso persona that make his music appealing to many listeners and other rappers alike. While the validity of the character he portrays and the many boasts he has made in his raps to support it have certainly been challenged at times, and even though the self-proclaimed ‘boss’ tends to be a rather subpar artist, his continual stream of fairly successful output is simple proof that he and many other musicians are selling a brand and an image more than they are a piece of art.
“Richer Than I Ever Been,” the newest full-length release from the Maybach Music Group founder, is a strong example of this. Ross doesn’t do much to amaze or particularly impress on any level within this project, but what he does is maintains a steady portrayal of the drug dealer success story and lavish rap millionaire lifestyle that he has cultivated over the years, while also rapping decently enough to keep fans tuned in all the way through.
It’s been a minute since Ross put out anything worth stopping to talk about, but this album will likely continue his conversation anyhow. For when a project contains merely decent raps and ok beats, a standout song here or there and perhaps some other redeeming qualities such as occasional moments of notable substance (Ross does make comments on this record about serious topics such as the Black Lives Matter and the murder of George Floyd), it can often survive for a decent amount of time if attached to a name as big as Ross’. Will “Richer Than I Ever Been” go on to be considered an acclaimed favorite in Rozay’s catalog? That would seem highly unlikely. This certainly doesn’t mean, however, that it won’t do just the trick for keeping his presence felt in the rap game for the time being.
The hard truth about this album is that it’s heavily hit and miss, but for the most part the misses get a bit out of hand. Tracks like “Imperial High” can come across as just downright uninteresting as Ross goes on about his riches and underworld dealings in a rather uninspiring way, accompanied by lazy flows over a typical beat (involving a few rather bland piano chords here and there, what a surprise) that seems to barely be breathing. The title track, which directly follows “Imperial High”, is of a similar formula, unfortunately.
The song “Wiggle” is a painfully off-putting track and is the low point of the album by a fair margin. It contains a hook that is simply terrible, much worse even than what one might imagine a terrible Rick Ross hook to sound like. The rapper’s bars on this song do not fare much better. Rapper DreamDoll is featured on this track and her verse is an improvement in many ways compared to that of Ross. Unfortunately, however, the lousy hook still wears the whole thing down quite substantially.
There are other decent features on this project, perhaps the best of which comes from Benny The Butcher on “Rapper Estates”. Jazmine Sullivan and 21 Savage both come through capably as well on “Outlawz” and the production on this track is a bit more attention grabbing as well, making for a better than average piece of this album.
The best song on “Richer Than I Ever Been”, however, is “Warm Words in a Cold World.” This track finds a creative beat full of well arranged instrument coordinations, such as subdued bass hits playing off fantastic hand drums, and Ross weaving around it all quite well. Wale is featured on this track and holds it true with his verse as does Future. Ross comes off strong on this one, even if he isn’t spitting the most elaborate raps. After all, if this album displays anything in particular about Ross, it’s that, for better or worse, he doesn’t seem to feel he has much to prove.
Overall, aside from some promising lines and one, maybe two standout tracks, “Richer Than I Ever Been” is an album that predictably falls short. It simply features too many weak beats backing up bars that often do more to bore than they do to convey a sense of skill or originality. Rick Ross will remain a well-known name in rap nonetheless, however, that seems to be a sure thing. His brand will surely not suffer either on account of a subpar showing such as this one, and perhaps that’s the whole point.