MUSIC

Rick Ross's "Port of Miami 2" Is Stale and Overrated

The 43-year-old emcee's latest effort is mostly a tepid recycling of the same thing he's been at for the last 13 years.

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

MUSIC

Anie Delgado's New Video "Galaxy" Is a Joyride Through the Cosmos

Singer-Songwriter Anie Delgado's new music video is a mix of cosmic collisions, kismet, and 1980's aesthetic.

Anie Delgado's music video for "Galaxy" opens on a scene at a house party.

A man looks bored, sitting on a couch while people play beer pong and party all around him. In walks Delgado, who immediately grabs his attention. Without a second thought, he gets up and approaches her, whispering something into her ear, accidentally turning off the lights in the process. This causes them both to discover that their bodies are speckled in glow-in-the-dark body paint, like neon-lit galaxies splattered against their skin. They are connected for a brief but profound moment, exploring each other's glowing bodies in the dark, until someone turns the lights back on and Delgado is pulled away by a friend.

The man goes to find her, wandering into a hallway and stopping in front of a closed door. Finally, Delgado reappears and opens the door out onto the depths of space. Together, the two enter a breathtaking, cosmic dreamscape of supernovas, floating auroras, and shooting stars. They become shimmering celestial beings as they explore their new surroundings. They embrace, they enjoy their moment, they kiss, and then they depart once more, fading away from each other into their own separate galaxies unseen.

Interspersed with this story of two strangers unexpectedly transcending time and space together, clips of Delgado dressed in various versions of an '80s diva flicker across several stacked televisions. The video's deep-space imagery is tied together perfectly in a cohesive aesthetic vision, as Delgado's infectious and lulling voice glides over sparse and airy instrumentation.

The two characters in "Galaxy" collide and explode for a brief and beautiful moment. They shine bright together for a time and then eventually fade away, just as bodies of matter collide to form galaxies in brilliant bursts of energy and light but also come undone with time. Delgado's vision leaves no sense of sadness, though, as the connection is nothing more than the awesome force that is the universe at play—as amazingly wonderful and strange as it is ephemeral.

Galaxy by Anie Delgado (Official Music Video) www.youtube.com

MUSIC

YBN Cordae's "The Lost Boy" Is an Instant Classic

The 2019 XXL Magazine Freshman Class honoree's debut album demonstrates why he deserves our respect.

XXL

If you've never heard of YBN Cordae before, that is bound to change in the days and years to come.

So long as he keeps making music with the same level of passion and skill that he demonstrated on his debut album, The Lost Boy, his name won't be forgotten. On every track of his record, the 21-year-old emcee approaches the mic with the confidence, command, and charisma of a veteran rapper. In fact, at times his flow is reminiscent of fellow North Carolina native (and collaborator on the album), J. Cole—an impressive feat given the fact that it took even Cole a couple of albums to truly find his voice, whereas Cordae seems to have already honed his prior to his first official release.

Of the 15 tracks on The Lost Boy, not a singe one of them is a throwaway. From the album's opener, "Wintertime"—a retrospective look at how Cordae overcame hardships like depression, addiction, and poverty—to the full-circle outro, "Lost & Found," where Cordae reflects briefly on how he was once lost but has since found himself. Cordae begins the album looking over his shoulder and ends it by living in the moment as he stands on the precipice of a very promising music career.

Other highlights along the way include the Anderson .Paak-assisted and J. Cole-produced, "RNP," which sees .Paak and Cordae exchange kid-n-play bars back and forth, conversing and pushing each other's rhymes further with each line. There's a certain alchemy between the two on this song that hasn't been heard since the heydays of Dr. Dre and Eminem, or Q-Tip and Phife Dawg on early Tribe records. It's as fun as it is enjoyable.

In fact, every one of the features on The Lost Boy is handled well. Cordae hasn't simply featured artists here for clout or merely for the sake of collaborating; every song that has a guest feels as if it truly called for the artist in question. Whether it's Pusha T going hard on the haunting "Nightmares Are Real," Ty Dolla $ign blending perfectly into the melodic, homecoming anthem, "Way Back Home," or Chance The Rapper lending some characteristic sunshine to the feel-good gospel chords of "Bad Idea," Cordae (and his collaborators) reminds listeners of the fact that a great artist works in service of the song before all else.

The Lost Boy is one of the most substantial debut albums to drop in quite some time. Front to back, this record is full of gems that are sure to stay in rotation for years to come. This is what an excellent rap album sounds like. And YBN Cordae is just getting started.

The Lost Boy