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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released August 15, 2019 | Epic

Instead of attempting to recapture the spirit of his number one, platinum-certified 2006 debut, Rick Ross is very much in 2019 on its inevitable sequel, his tenth album. Frequent serious references to mortality make Port of Miami 2 his heaviest recording. On three separate tracks, he envisions his grave, lets his woman know that she can choose his casket -- as if it's a relationship goal -- and flashes back to when he was on life support, deducing that he was dealt cold retribution for his recklessness. In the third one, he even gets existential: "You could have the biggest clique, but you gon' die a loner." The plentiful terse and gruff rhymes exuding opulence -- a few of which are put forth with tiresome, less than standard verve -- consequently seem less like proclamations of invincibility than incitements to seize the day. Links to Port of Miami and the city itself aren't common -- a missed opportunity. Ross name-checks with reverence some of the high-profile drug-trade figures who have inspired him. Fellow Carol City native Denzel Curry, who was 11 when Ross went nationwide, supplies a racing verse. The returning Port of Miami contributors are limited to the likes of Jeezy, Lil Wayne, and producer DJ Toomp; key Miamians Cool & Dre and DJ Khaled, for instance, don't return. Above all, there are strong and poignant connections to the debut on the cover and in the grooves with tributes to Black Bo, Ross' late, longtime manager. The MC compared the release of this LP to the pushing of a reset button, but this -- the point where he has most potently mixed the fantastical and the autobiographical -- seems like the wrong time to do it. Besides, he can still swank and illustrate a scene with the best of them, whether over a thunderous Just Blaze beat or swirling soul-funk cooked up by Jake One, or while sharing a moment of glory with the departed Nipsey Hussle. ~ Andy Kellman
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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released August 8, 2019 | Epic

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released March 17, 2017 | Epic

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released July 2, 2019 | Epic

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released July 26, 2019 | Epic

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released June 21, 2019 | Epic

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released June 22, 2018 | Epic

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released March 17, 2017 | Epic

A change of labels and an almost entirely different set of producers aside, Rather You Than Me is business as usual for Rick Ross. Armed with a streak of eight Top Ten full-lengths, the rapper moves from Def Jam to Epic for album number nine, backed by a mix of old and new beatmaking associates -- and more featured guests than tracks -- with only a handful of Black Market holdovers on one cut each. Just after the release of Black Market, Ross broke a lengthy crossover-hit dry spell with "Purple Lamborghini," his and Skrillex's unlikely if predictably blaring soundclash for the Suicide Squad soundtrack, but this largely picks up where Ross' full-length discography left off. Trap productions switch between sleek and low profile to blaring and riotous, tempered with a batch of comparatively elegant, soul-dipped tracks, highlighted by a trio handled by old ally Bink and a C Gutta (aka Lil' C) flip of the Stylistics' "People Make the World Go Round." Ross' vainglorious pronouncements are broken up by reflective, sometimes pro-black moments with slightly greater frequency. Some conflicts are resolved while others intensify, as on "Idols Become Rivals," where Ross gets Chris Rock, the comedian he once vengefully called a cornball, to effusively introduce a ruthless diss track directed at Birdman. Just as noticeably, on the Raphael Saadiq-assisted opener "Apple of My Eye," Ross softens a stance that previously placed him in the far-right radar: "I'm happy Donald Trump became president, because we gotta destroy before we elevate." For some listeners, this album is just as likely to be known as the one on which Ross compares himself to assassinated Black Panther leader Fred Hampton (one verse away from "Fuckin' centerfolds like I still be dealin' dope"). Ross' mixtures of outrageous fantasy and sobering reality, side-splitting humor, and piercing vengeance, are intermittently as potent as ever. ~ Andy Kellman

Rap/Hip-Hop - Released June 21, 2018 | Epic

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released November 18, 2016 | Epic

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released November 10, 2017 | Epic

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released February 2, 2018 | Epic

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released August 11, 2017 | Epic

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released June 30, 2017 | Epic

Rap/Hip-Hop - Released November 18, 2016 | Epic

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released February 1, 2018 | Epic

Rap/Hip-Hop - Released June 30, 2017 | Epic

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released November 10, 2017 | Epic

Rap/Hip-Hop - Released September 15, 2017 | Epic

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released September 15, 2017 | Epic

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Rick Ross in the magazine
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