No one can hold Rick Ross back. After making his debut six years ago with Port of Miami, the Maybach Music CEO has steadily risen up the ranks to become one of hip-hop’s most prolific MCs. The Bawse’s fifth album God Forgives, I Don’t arrives this week boasting big-name collaborations with Dr. Dre, Jay-Z, André 3000, and Usher, plus top-notch production from Pharrell, Rico Love, J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League, Cool & Dre, and more. Rozay calls it his best work yet. Do the critics agree? The reviews are in.
Entertainment Weekly: The Miami native embodies his distorted version of the gangsta American dream so completely that he manages to transcend cliché. … Sure, he’s been bragging about his rep since his 2006 debut, but God Forgives is the first album that really feels like it was made by a boss. A-
Los Angeles Times: The new disc extends an over-the-top hot streak that began with 2009’s Deeper Than Rap and includes Teflon Don, from 2010; it’s rooted in the same lush production sound and name-checks just as many ultra-high-end luxury brands—even the Lear jet on which the second of his seizures struck. 3/4
Rolling Stone: There are times when God Forgives is as engrossing and surprising as rap can be. Over beats that alternate between sparkling, decadent string arrangements and assaultive, synthesized blare, Ross pretzels hip-hop’s familiar rags-to-riches arc into a MÃ¶bius strip, slaloming around an autobiographical timeline that may or may not be his own. 4/5
USA Today: MTV’s reigning “hottest MC in the game” isn’t bashful about his artistic and entrepreneurial success, though you’re never sure where reality ends and hyperbole begins in his platinum-plated boasts. What is certain, though, is his knack for painting pictures of his bootstraps rise and current luxe life in bold strokes over beats to match. 3/4
The Boston Globe: While not as electrifying as Teflon Don, this 70-minute set deftly mixes grandiose gestures and ominous bravado. He still deals familiar hip-hop tropes, but they are balanced by a new gravitas including references to mortality and the seizures he experienced last year.
The Associated Press: His fifth solo album in six years is loaded with undeniable quality tunes, making his new offering his most well-balanced piece of work to date. It’s clear that the burly, bearded Ross—who normally dons black shades—has made strides as a lyricist and storyteller.
Rap-Up’s Favorite Tracks: “3 Kings,” “Hold Me Back,” “Touch’N You”