Rick Ross – “Richer Than I Ever Been” review

This is the 11th full-length album from Floridian rapper, entrepreneur & record executive Rick Ross. Making his debut on wax in 2000 on Erick Sermon’s 3rd album Erick Onasis he would eventually make his full-length debut 6 years later with Port of Miami & was followed up by Trilla. Both of which were just ok, but it wouldn’t be until 2009 that Rozay would really solidify himself as a legend in the game as Deeper Than Rap, Teflon Don, God Forgives, I Don’t & Mastermind are all rightfully regarded as his best bodies of work. Rather You Than Me & Port of Miami 2 were both impressive as well, so to see him come back in the form of Richer Than I Ever Been had me excited given the mediocrity of both Expensive Pain & Folarin II earlier this fall.

The-Dream tags along for the opener “Little Havana” advising listeners that you gotta learn to use your mind to help keep you out of certain situations on top of a Boi-1da instrumental whereas the Timbaland-produced “The Pulitzer”, which has a more ominous sound & boastful lyrics. Benny the Butcher comes into the fold for the lavish “Rapper Estates” talking about living big time, but then “Marathon” weaves in a glistening STREETRUNNER beat reminding that he’s more than rich.

Meanwhile on “Warm Words in a Cold World”, we have Future & Wale accompanying Rozay for an infectiously fun ballad about icing out their shawties leading into the DreamDoll-assisted “Wiggle” which is basically a failed attempt at strip club banger despite the Don Cannon instrumental.

“Can’t Be Broke” has an admirable concept with Johnny Shipes’ production applying to Thang, but Yungeen Ace & Major 9’s performances are both wack as fuck. “Made It Out Alive” has one of the weaker beats on the album even though Rozay kills it lyrically detailing him surviving the hood prior to araabMUZIK & Infamous bringing in the horns for “Outlawz” with 21 Savage declaring themselves as such forever.

The song “Imperial High” has a grim DJ Toomp instrumental comparing himself to royalty while the Black Metaphor-produced title track has a more piano heavy sound talking about being at his wealthiest. To finish the album off, “Hella Smoke” with Wiz Khalifa for the glossy weed smoking theme.

Ross has always stayed consistent with his music, but I feel like Richer Than I Ever Been is one of his best albums thus far. The production is top notch as to be expected & lyrically, it’s nice to hear him take listeners through where he’s at currently.

Score: 3.5/5

Meek Mill – “Expensive Pain” review

Meek Mill is a 34 year old MC & songwriter from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania who started out in the battle circuit before T.I. briefly signed him to Grand Hustle Records. Once he left, Rick Ross brought him over to Maybach Music Group & has continued to make himself at home over there to this day. Throughout the last decade, we’ve seen a handful of ups & downs in his career. The critically acclaimed Dreamchasers mixtape series, his beef with Drake & who could forget where he was sentenced to 6 years in prison by a corrupt judge only to be released 5 months later? Meek’s last album Championships was seen as his most mature body of work yet despite being a tad bit bloated but after 3 years of singles & EPs, he’s finally following it up with his 5th full-length album.

“Hate on Me” kicks things off with Cardo sampling the Nas joint “Hate Me Now” as well as Meek going at his detractors whereas “Outside (100 MPH)” gets boastful over a more darker instrumental with a bassy switch up during the final verse. “On My Soul” contains a sumptuous Fuse beat with Meek talking about getting everything leading into Lil Baby & Lil Durk going back & forth with him on top of a Bulgarian sample for “Sharing Locations”. The title track has a moodier sound talking about the shit he went through with this money just before “Ride for You” serves as a boring attempt at a lovey dovey radio hit.

“Me (Fuckin’ With Me)” has a skeletal Boi-1da instrumental as Meek & A$AP Ferg saying no one’s on their level, but then Moneybagg Yo tags along for the uneventfully-produced “Hot” bragging about being those dudes. “Love Train” has a more lush sound to it with Meek venting about people switching on him while “Northside Southside” with Giggs murkily gets on their gang shit.

“We Slide” with Young Thug emotionally opens up on the struggles throughout their lives with a perfectly suiting piano instrumental from Tay Keith whereas “Tweaking” almost has a boom bap flare to it saying he’s too rich to pay hoes. I think it’s pretty cool how “Love Money” works in some guitars talking about how he doesn’t love the paper anymore & “Blue Notes 2” with Lil Uzi Vert serves as an average sequel to the Dreamchasers 4 cut of the same name.

“Angels” is an emotional tribute to the late Lil Snupe just before finishing off the “Cold Hearted” trilogy with the hazy “Cold Hearted III”. The penultimate track “Halo” despite it’s nondescript production opens up about knowing too many angels & the 30 Roc-produced “Flamerz Flow” ends the album with a hungry freestyle.

As much of a fiery comeback Championships was, I didn’t really expect much from Expensive Pain given that most of the singles were mid. Lo & behold: That mediocrity carries it’s way onto the album. You got barely more than half of it being straight up bangers & the rest is just completely forgettable.

Score: 3/5

Meek Mill – “Quarantine Pack” review

This is the 6th EP from Philly’s very own Meek Mill. Starting out as a battle rapper, he later became a protege of Rick Ross & signed to Maybach Music Group in the 2010s. We’ve all watched this man have a series of ups & downs throughout his career from his critically acclaimed Dreamchasers mixtapes to his beef with Drake. However a couple years ago, he was freed from prison after a corrupt judge sentenced him to 6 years in November of 2017 & made a triumphant return with his 4th album Championships. But with a new full-length in the works, Meek is preluding it by dropping a Quarantine Pack.

The opener “Middle of It” compares himself to Richard Porter over a trap beat with some heavy bass & a flute while the next song “Pain Away” with Lil Durk sees the 2 talking about money relieving them of their stresses over a slow instrumental from S1. The penultimate track “GTA” with 42 Dugg finds the 2 talking about how there’s certain things that don’t need to be said over a hyphy beat & then the closer “Think It’s a Game” talks about a homie who turned his back on him over a spacious instrumental.

Personally, this is a decent collection of songs & I’m curious to hear how all 4 of them play out in the context of Meek’s next album whenever he puts it out. I mean he definitely took is time with these joints & I appreciate that to the highest degree, but there’s not much else to it beyond that.

Score: 3/5

Rick Ross – “Port of Miami 2” review

1280x1280.jpg

Rick Ross is a renown 43 year old rapper, entrepreneur & record executive from Carol City, Florida that made his debut on wax in 2000 on Erick Sermon’s 3rd album Erick Onasis. He would eventually make his full-length debut in 2006 with Port of Miami, which was followed up in 2 years later with Trilla. Both of which were just ok, but it wouldn’t be until 2009 that Rozay would really solidify himself as a legend in the game. As Deeper Than Rap, Teflon Don, God Forgives, I Don’t & Mastermind are all rightfully regarded as his best bodies of work. The last time we heard from Ross in a full-length capacity was in 2017 with Rather You Than Me & to commemorate the 13 year anniversary of his debut this month, he’s back with a sequel to the album that started it all.

The album starts off with “Act a Fool”, where Rozay & Wale brag over a vibrant trap beat. The next song “Turnpike Ike” gets luxurious over a beautiful piano instrumental from Jake One while the track “Nobody’s Favorite” with Gunplay sees the 2 talking about their success over a nocturnal trap beat. The song “Summer Reign” gets romantic over a moody beat while the track “White Lines” gets mafioso over an atmospheric beat.

The song “Big Tyme” talks about doing it huge over a lavish Just Blaze instrumental while the track “Bogus Charms” with Meek Mill sees the 2 talking about living on over a beautiful piano instrumental from StreetRunner. The song “Rich N***a Lifestyle” with the late Nipsey Hu$$le needs no further explanation over a blaxploitation-esque instrumental from Cardiak while the track “Born to Kill” with Jeezy sees the 2 talking about death over a dreamy trap beat.

The song “Fascinated” is a tribute to his friends that’re either dead or in jail over a smooth instrumental & while the track “I Still Pray” with YFN Lucci & Ball Greezy does have one of the most fanciest instrumentals on the entire project provided by DJ Toomp, the lyrics are a vapid diss towards their haters. The song “Running the Streets” with A Boogie wit da Hoodie & Denzel Curry sees the 3 talking about their place in the Florida hip hop scene over a church-esque instrumental while the track “Vegas Residency” is a party anthem with a harmonious instrumental from none other than the J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League.

The penultimate track “Maybach Music VI” was probably the most anticipated on the entire album, because it was said to feature both Lil Wayne & Pusha T. However despite Pusha not appearing on the song at all, it still sounds grand both lyrically & sonically. The album then finishes up with “Gold Roses”, which is basically an equally boring sequel to that “Money in the Grave” single that Drake dropped not too long ago.

This could very well be better than the original Port of Miami, in my personal opinion. Not only does Rozay continue to show how amazing his ear for production truly is, but his mob bars are of course a lot sharper than they were on his debut & most of the features on here add to ’em pretty solidly. You can also tell that he really took his time with this one in comparison to rushing out some of his latest projects like Hood Billionaire & Black Market.

Score: 3.5/5

Meek Mill – “Championships” review

Meek Mill is a 31 year old rapper from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania who started out as a battle rapper & then became a Rick Ross protege at the beginning of the decade. He’s had a series of ups & downs throughout his career from his critically acclaimed Dreamchasers mixtapes to his beef with Drake & an unjustful conviction last November (for which he was freed in April of this year). Meek made his official return to the music scene with his 5th EP Legends of the Summer but as the end of November has approached, he’s coming back with his 4th full-length album.

The intro cut on here ferociously claps back at those who prayed on his downfall over a flawless sample of the classic Phil Collins song “In the Air Tonight” while the next track “Trauma” touches down on racial injustice over an ambitious trap beat. The song “Uptown Vibes” with Fabolous & Anuel AA talks about people who try to steal their waves over a latin-infused beat while the track “On Me” with Cardi B gets raunchy over a generic trap beat. The song “What’s Free?” sees Meek alongside Ross & JAY-Z explaining what freedom is to them over some strings & hi-hats while the track “Respect the Game” is essentially about how becoming rich has impacted him personally over a trap beat with a prominent piano sample.

The song “Splash Warning” with Future, Young Thug & Roddy Ricch is a nondescript party anthem while the title track talks about beating the system over a jazzy beat. The song “Going Bad” with Drake sees the 2 flexing for old times sake over a bass-heavy keyboard instrumental from Wheezy while the track “Almost Slipped” is an awkward ballad about how he almost fell in love with a hoe. The song “Tic Tac Toe” sees Meek charismatically bragging over a triumphant Tay Keith instrumental while the track “24/7” is a smooth sex anthem with a clever sample of Beyoncé’s “Me, Myself & I” throughout.

The song “Oodles O’ Noodles Babies” recalls his upbringings over a soulful beat while the track “Pay You Back” with 21 Savage sees the 2 talking about how they have shooters over an apocalyptic Wheezy beat. The song “100 Summers” talks about his mother & his friends over a mellow Hit-Boy instrumental while the track “W.T.S. (With The Shits)” with Melii is a concept joint about this girl frontin’ on him over an instrumental that sounds like it could’ve landed on Lil Pump’s self-titled debut. The song “Stuck in My Ways” talks about how he’ll always be chasing that paper over a spacious trap beat from Cardo while the penultimate track “Dangerous” with Jeremih originally appeared on Legends of the Summer & it still sounds as corny as it did when I originally heard it back in July. The album then finishes with “Cold Hearted II”, which serves as a fantastic sequel to the closing track off of Meek’s 2015 sophomore album Dreams Worth More Than Money with a sample of “I Was Never There” off of The Weeknd’s latest EP My Dear Melancholy,.

I’ve been a little harsh on Meek’s recent output, but I have to be fair & say that this is his best project in a while. Sure there are a small handful of filler tracks, but Meek is at his most mature for the good amount of the time on here.

Score: 3.5/5

Meek Mill – “Legends of the Summer” review

https_images.genius.com310dda741a254ad3b5722ce3be1b67d9.600x600x1

After rightfully being freed from prison due to a corrupted judge just a couple months ago, Philly rapper Meek Mill has officially returned with his 5th EP.

Things start off with “Millidelphia”, where he triumphantly raps about over an explosive trap instrumental from Swizz Beatz. The next song “Dangerous” with Jeremih & PnB Rock may have a beautiful acoustic instrumental but lyrically, it’s cliché for me. The penultimate track “1am” is an energetic club banger with a bouncy instrumental from longtime friend/collaborator Jahlil Beats & the closer “Stay Woke” is arguably Meek’s best song I’ve heard in a long time. Primarily because after everything he’s been through within the past year, he insightfully touches down on corruption in the judicial system over an atmospheric beat.

I really can’t wait to hear his next full-length album, because this was a short but sweet surprise. He could’ve added a few more tracks, but this is the most focused & passionate that I’ve heard Meek in YEARS.

Score: 3.5/5