Rick Ross has constantly teetered between delivering quality and quantity, and it has caused him from producing standouts like 2012’s God Forgives, I Don’t, and 2010’s Teflon Don. Unfortunately, 2021’s Richer Than I’ve Ever Been continues to teeter between two things: quality and necessary. Within most Rick Ross albums, you find yourself hearing that his album singles tend to come across on the nose. And Richer Than I’ve Ever Been suffers from that, which in turn, shows that these – wrought — single-like tracks can get taken off to create a tighter album. Listening to Richer Than I’ve Ever Been, I’ve wanted to enjoy it more than his last album (I did a little) – the feature-heavy Port of Miami 2, and I’m not here to oversell it. Richer Than I’ve Ever Been is a fine album that is a slight step up from Port of Miami 2, though it may end up being equally as memorable.
The Big Boss Rick Ross (Rozzay) has never shied away from referencing cocaine-drug kingpins in relation to his successes and personality, which is a common trait in hip-hop – the referencing of, not specific to an area. We’ve seen past rappers reference Frank Lucas, amongst others, but Rick Ross has had a different relationship to it, and it shows with the opening track, “Little Havanna” – in the song Willie Falcon, half of the Spanish Boys, thanks Ross for reflecting on the positives Falcon’s has done for his community. Afterward, Rick Ross raps with histrionics, personal reflections, and the future as he finds himself at the apex of his career. And from here, Ross some quality tracks – some are carried by the features, others by Ross’s technical talents behind the microphone. The production barely makes itself noticeable, loosely creating redundant cohesion. At that point, it becomes like most mediocre hip-hop albums – it works, or it doesn’t.
However, one constant that works are the rap features that bring their B to A level game with their verses. From Benny the Butcher to 21 Savage, and the in-between, they never deliver a dull moment – they keep themselves focused on the subject without leaning too heavy at forcing rhymes out the spectrum. It reflects the proper care given to the final product, even if the track doesn’t fit. After a minimally forgettable but strong start, Rick Ross comes with the track “Wiggle” featuring DreamDoll. It teeters into a basic lewd single, which is the opposite of what we have gotten thus far – reflexive and pensive Rick Ross. It tries to embody the Miami-Hustler–Mentality, but that is lost when Rick Ross delivers a poor verse and a track that throws you off the beaten path. It’s similarly the case with “Made It Out Alive,” which poorly uses Blxst’s talents. It prints a wrought complexion where Rick Ross comes with enough to deliver a solid narrative, but it ends up falling short with the chorus.
With the many tracks, Rick Ross – as the sole rapper – delivers a whirlwind of good verses that tend to get muddled from the production. Once you hear that beat drop, as I did, Ross blends in the background, letting a few bars sneak out that show us his consistent bravado. Though returning to the tracks is a treat since Ross is vulnerable and keeping it close to 100. But the only drawback to returning – for the most part – sheds the 50-50 split between the forgettable and unforgettable. There are tracks like “Marathon” and “Imperial High” which stand out amongst the set, while “The Pulitzer” and “Richer Than I Ever Been” are lost within the mix.
To Rick Ross’ detriment, it seems that after many years he has succumbed to keeping it safe – sometimes he relies on others, other times he spends little time picking solid production. Unfortunately, it’s hard to have a concise direction when you include over 15-20 producers for an album that runs 12-Tracks and 42 Minutes. One problem it could have is that it brings too many ideas into the fold, but when it implements different instruments than percussion and bass, it slightly transfixes you into liking what you hear – that is the case with “Can’t Be Broke,” as the production takes anecdotes from melodic rap and somber hi-hats. It was that one glimmer of hope because, after a few ups and downs, the redundant percussion-centric production would gradually dissipate, as we transition to the second half of the album. Rick Ross ends on a medium note and thus falls into the trappings of a mediocre hip-hop album.
Richer Than I Ever Been is still the middle of the road for Rick Ross. It has its moments in the sun and its moments buried beneath the ground – ultimately, it has something for everyone. I step up from Port of Miami 2, but it isn’t that hard to do.