Ross continues to count the cash on this high-profile mixtape release.
Adam Kennedy 2012
Reversing 21st century trends transforming the once-humble mixtape into glossy adverts for forthcoming albums, this between-albums outing from bearded Miami kingpin Rick Ross is arguably his magnum opus to date. With a coherency out of whack with its free download status, however, Rich Forever isn't all diamonds in the rough.
Having repositioned Florida hip hop on the map, Ross doesn't bear the hallmarks of your typical major league rapper, despite a whole block of box ticking (crime, cash, countless tit-for-tat beefs with rivals such as 50 Cent). He's been variously chuckled at over a past correctional officer career and sued for borrowing real-life dealer 'Freeway' Ricky Ross' moniker. Suspension of disbelief is handy here, then, as Ross continues to pose as a drug kingpin.
Making good on plentiful trademark widescreen swagger, filthy dirty south fingerprints are frequently visible where Rich Forever succeeds. F*** Em rolls off menacing backing and bizarre boasts ("My girl is bow-legged," anyone?), and Nas duels on Triple Beam Dreams with his best lines in some while. Ring Ring, meanwhile, possesses a rare tunefulness, its cute melody slinking under onslaughts of less-than-subtle verses.
With regular shout-outs to Ross' Maybach Music Group, rarely has an imprint so succinctly summed up the music within: that Rich Forever best soundtracks rolling around in cavernous luxury vehicles may explain its architect's lack of success in the fuel tax-heavy UK, compared with sizeable stateside status. Though the quotables arrive thick and fast, there's a certain imagination lacking in endemic empty flossing. And that's without even mentioning Diddy, unspectacular even by his own standards on the likes of New Bugatti.
As an exercise in giving the people what they want, Rich Forever greases Ross' continuing ascent ahead of next album proper, God Forgives, I Don't, due later in 2012. But as self-fulfilling prophecies go, counting cash – and stacks of it – seemingly continues to prove this rapper’s primary concern, rather than a desire to significantly stretch the artform.