Rick Ross – Trilla
Slip-N-Slide / Def Jam (3/11/08)
Rap / Hip-hop
When it comes to Miami-based drug n’ thug rapper Rick Ross, it’s all too easy to dismiss him. He’s from the South, so that’s strike one. His stage name is yet another tired tribute to an infamous real-life ne’er-do-well for strike two. And, he’s assembled a shockingly awesome cast of guest artists and producers for his sophomore effort. What the hell?
To be sure, Ross hasn’t changed his subject matter from what he always brings to the table. The bravado, b*tches and bud are all over the Mannie-Fresh-infused “All I Have in This World”. Say what you will about Fresh’s one-note production style, but this is a certified club banger. Former Fresh affiliate Lil Wayne lifts thangs up on the rags-to-riches “Luxury Tax”. And, before you roll your eyes at the predictable materialism, know that it’s produced by the J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League, with a lush, layered sound that blends beautifully with the artists involved.
The League produces two more tracks, with the slower “Here I Am”, which includes—and, yes, I’m about to type this—a decent Nelly appearance, and the majestic “Billionaire”. Again, while the subject matter remains cocaine and stacks of cash, the beats lift it to another level.
It’s hard to be mad at the mandatory reaches for radio, either. T-Pain does whatever it is that’s made him hip-hop’s most inexplicable star on “The Boss”, while Jay-Z simply kills it on “Maybach Music”. And the duo of “Reppin’ My City” and “Money Make Me Come” are effectively empty calories, but undeniably entertaining.
It’s a stretch to call Rick Ross “underrated.” He’s really nothing special as a lyricist and his one-size-fits-all flow doesn’t always click, but credit where it’s due—Ross has filled Trilla with enough reasons to give it a listen. The beats are solid, the star power of the guests is stellar and the end result is one of the most pleasant surprises of the year.
Tags: Jay-Z, Lil Wayne, T-Pain