Despite a tumultuous year, Rick Ross’ Deeper Than Rap is still one of the most anticipated albums of 2009. I think we can just go ahead and put a 2011 release date on Dr. Dre’s Detox, although he’s made promises to release it this year. While beef with 50 is prevalent throughout the project, Ross continues to establish himself as a force to be reckoned with, not only in Southern rap, but in hip-hop in general.
“Mafia Music” is the big opener, although it has been on the Internet for over a month as fuel to the Ross-50 fire. Nevertheless, when I heard it for the first time, I almost kicked over the coffee table. Ross spits straight fire for the entirety of the song, no hooks and no featured artists. “Creflo prayed/Mike Vick paid/ Bobby Brown strayed/ Whitney lost weight/ Kimbo Slice on the pad when I write…” Indeed. However, one of the flaws of the album could be the inclusion of so much instigation, with “In Cold Blood”, “Mafia Music”, and “Valley of Death” hanging 50 Cent, G-Unit, and even Trick Daddy out to dry. Save the beef for the mixtapes and let us know why you’re better by giving your fans a consistent product.
On “Murda Mami”, a collaboration with Foxy Brown, Brown compares the two to a ‘hood version of the Obamas, while the chorus touts the pair as the ’09 Bonnie & Clyde. The silly comparisons and a faux-reggae performance by Fox make this collabo a little hard to swallow. Where was all the patois when Ill Na Na came out? On the other hand, Ross’ collabo with Trina, “Face”, puts Ross exactly where he needs to be. This track reminds me of “Money Make Me Come”, a winner off of the last album. Trina is just go-hard enough to ride with Ross on this one and the track bounces like a 6-4 Impala from beginning to end.
“Gunplay” is the pre-requisite posse track, or rather one where he lets one member of the crew eat. Thankfully, Ross leaves out the rest of Carol City Cartel and only includes Gunplay (yes, this is his name) on this track, though the lyrically-proven homie Brisco would have probably been a better choice. Gunplay’s verse and hook contribution were actually pretty good. “Usual Suspects” features Nas and Ross holds his own, but of course Nas takes over on verse two. The problem here is the lazy chorus provided by some kind of Akon wannabe. A waste of a Nas feature, in my opinion, but I didn’t hate it.
“Maybach Music II” was supposed to be a follow-up to the Jay-Z collabo on the Trilla album, but is in a whole different lane altogether in my opinion. The energy is completely different. While the first version crawled along elegantly, similar to the track’s namesake, this one has more of an extravagant feel, with what sounds like a full symphony behind the featured artists. Ross spits a particularly strong verse, but Kanye and Wayne in my opinion used throwaway verses. The first version’s inclusion of Jay-Z made it a more mature track, but this one blends with a lot of the other tracks on Deeper Than Rap, when it could have been its own animal altogether. “Valley of Death”, though riddled with shots at Trick Daddy and 50, is overall a great song, reminiscent of a vintage Jay-Z track. He even addresses the corrections officer debacle: “Only live once and I got two kids/ And for me to feed them I’ll get two gigs/ I’ll shovel sh*t, I’ll C.O./ So we can bow our head and pray over the meat loaf…” Chuuuch.