Can We Forgive Rick Ross For This Mistake?

October 12th, 2012

(Photo: Rick Diamond/Getty Images for BET)

By Gee King

Just over two months ago, Rick Ross was celebrating the success of God Forgives, I Don’t; his much hyped fifth album which sold over 218,000 copies in its first week and debuted at number one on the Billboard 200. Like most releases from Ross’ Maybach Music Group, God Forgives received a massive press push, was set-up by an album-quality mixtape (Rich Forever) and featured the most sought after names in the rap game: Jay-Z, Dr. Dre, Andre 3000. But although the album was a commercial success and received mostly positive reviews from critics, it certainly didn’t match the massive expectations created by Ross’ promotional push and the hip hop-wide expectation that this would be the album that cemented Ricky Rozay as one of rap’s greatest MCs. Could that be why Ross made the head-scratching decision to release his newest mixtape, The Black Bar Mitzvah, just months after dropping a project that was two years in-the-making? Instead of letting the album that was supposed to be his masterpiece sit with the fans and grow on them, he rushed out a jacking-for-beats style mixtape. What was the point? Rick Ross presents himself as a businessman first, though he’s also expressed higher creative ambitions than most rappers. So we have to think that this move was made with a mind on the paper in his pockets, not the paper in his rhyme book. There are a lot of business strategies at play here, including Maybach’s favorite, flooding the marketplace. The industry is still struggling and Ross is one of the few MCs with the power and capital to truly saturate a starving market. But besides introducing Rockie Fresh, who stood tall on freestyles over “Clique,” “Mercy” and “Presidential,” and shamelessly promoting Meek Mill’s impending Dreams & Nightmares debut, he didn’t have much to tell us about the MMG team.

This wasn’t a clearly artistic move, either. Maybe we’d understand if he wanted to drop a few of the hot verses and beats that didn’t make God Forgives, but Ross instead went in the other direction. After raising the bar for himself and his peers with stellar mixtapes like The Albert Anastasia EP, Ashes to Ashes and Rich Forever, how could he fall to his own standards? But while those featured plenty of original music and spawned hits of their own, The Black Bar Mitzvah appears to be a step back to the jacking-for-beats-style tapes that Lil Wayne once dominated the game with. And again, we ask, why? Even the concept and execution of the tape seem rushed and archaic compared to Ross’ previous output. The term “Black Bar Mitzvah” is yet another phrase Ross borrowed from mentor Jay-Z, who first dropped the line on 2007’s “Roc Boys.” But while Jay’s reference was clever and original (he even through in a “L’chaim!”) Ross doesn’t even bother to fully conceive imagery that matches the tape’s theme. Besides the occasional clichéd references to Jewish lawyers and Jewelers, the tape lacks the cohesiveness of Rich Forever, which stated and restated its message with skits, high-profile collabs and an overarching tone of excess that makes Rozay one of hip hop’s most beloved characters.

So what was the point, Rick? Were you just trying to piss off Shyne, an Orthodox Jew who hilariously took the mixtape title and imagery as a direct shot from the Boss. Or maybe he just wanted to address the BET Awards altercations his crew had with Young Jeezy’ CTE camp and 50 Cent’s G-Unit. Whatever the case, the Teflon Don has groomed us to expect more from him than The Black Bar Mitzvah. We can only speculate as to what was on his mind, but we can be sure he won’t be the biggest boss for much longer if he makes it a habit of making small-minded moves.

For more, log on to BET.com

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