Rick Ross, if nothing else, loves to repeat himself.
Whether it's his famous "Maybach Music" adlib or the endless repetition of themes and rhyme schemes, Rick Ross has struggled for years to be original. Ross's imaginative shortcomings even seep into his persona. In 2010, the rapper was sued for $10 million by former drug kingpin, Rick Ross, who claimed that the emcee appropriated his name and criminal history, which resulted in a rather lucrative music career. Ultimately, though, according to The Independent, California judge Robert Baron ruled that "Roberts [Ross, the rapper] created a celebrity identity, using the name Rick Ross, of a cocaine kingpin, turned rapper. He was not simply an impostor seeking to profit solely off the name and reputation of Rick Ross. Rather, he made music out of fictional tales of dealing drugs and other exploits..." Either way, 13 years is a long time to be churning out tales of drugs, opulence, and promiscuity, especially when these subjects are not being offered up in any new, daring, or innovative ways.
The creative stagnancy of Ross's latest album, Port of Miami 2, is seen early on. On "Act a Fool," which features Wale, Ross raps, "10 stacks on the stage cause a whirlwind (Whirlwind) / Take a couple stacks and give that to your girlfriend (Woo) / Love to see pretty bitches kissin' on pretty bitches / Number one in my book is all the realest bitches." Ross's stale rhyming of "whirlwind" and "girlfriend" could probably be overlooked if he was leaning on the tired rhyme to say something new. But he isn't. It's the message of 'I'm so rich, I could steal your girl."
To add to this barrage of antiquated sentiments, Ross follows it up with a declaration of how much he loves attractive lesbians (or, at the very least, girls who are willing to engage in bisexual behavior solely for his viewing pleasure). The other 14 songs on the album, unfortunately, do not show much in the way of departure from these bars in "Act a Fool."
The project has some occasional highlights, but those moments have little to do with Ross himself. The production, for example, is on point, thanks to beat-making masterminds like Just Blaze, Jake One, J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League, and Beat Billionaire. And there are some head-turning features from heavy hitters like Meek Mill, Jeezy, Nipsey Hussle, Teyana Taylor, Lil Wayne, Drake, and John Legend. Rick Ross is at his best when he's surrounded by talented artists that force him to step up his bars lest he be outshone.
While Rick Ross shows little growth as an artist on Port of Miami 2, that's never been his aim. He has always (and likely always will) continue his one-note shtick of drugs, sex, and violence. And it can be fun in the right context: at a club or a house party, where you will likely only hear a song or two throughout the night. And most of the songs on this album could easily slide into rotation at a wild Miami night club. So, in that regard, Port of Miami 2 sees Rick Ross at his best--making background music to party to, as opposed to crafting innovative and creatively satisfying albums.
Port of Miami 2