Music

Rick Ross: Teflon Don

Rick Ross brings back all the star-studded guests, producers and money-rap themes you have come to expect from him. And it's awesome.


Rick Ross

Teflon Don

Label: Maybach
US Release Date: 2010-07-20
Amazon
iTunes

It wasn’t easy for Ross to make it even to where he is now. Sounding somewhat like a cigar-smoking Kermit, his flow is more chunky than smooth and his topical content doesn’t extend much beyond that same ole-money rap variety. There’s also the whole thing about being a correctional officer, which doesn’t really help when your telling stories about being in the crack game. Nevertheless, Ross is a hard-working man who continually comes up with some absurdly memorable lines to supplement the lack of thematic inventiveness. Not to mention the dude is just kind of ridiculous. After all, when was the last time you saw Rick Ross with a shirt on and no sunglasses?

With Weezy in the slammer and T.I. still in the hip-hop halfway house back to mainstream radio, the time may never be better for Rick Ross to fill the vacancy spot on the 20-song rotation of your local party station reserved for rappers with G-experience on their CV and stories about making millions off cocaine to supplement their Louis Vuitton-fetish. Fortunately for Da Big Boss, he came prepared, peppering his fourth full-length, Teflon Don, with guest spots that include but are not limited to Jay-Z, Erykah Badu, Drake, Kayne West, Gucci Mane, Diddy and even T.I. Despite the all-star roster of guest spots, Ross seems interested in something greater than a just hits, he’s trying to solidify his reputation as a rapper to be reckoned with. Take the first 20 seconds of Teflon Don when Ross gives us his last wishes with Caesar-like grandeur: “If I died today remember me like John Lennon/ bury me in Louie, I’m talkin’ all brown linen/make all of the bitches tattoo my logo on their titties/ put a statue of a nigger in the middle of the city.” Listen, Ross is definitely trying to make a buck off this rap-game, but at this point he’s is done trying to earn your respect, he’s trying to create a legacy.

Does Teflon Don do that? That answer probably depends on where you stand with Rick Ross. If you come to him for epically catchy rap tunes, Teflon Don offers that. The Jay-Z featured “Free Mason” is full of orchestrated strings and tales of success after making it out of the streets. While the first single “Super High” might be the funkiest thing Ross has ever rapped over. Plastered with a sexy beat sampled from the '70s Detroit R&B group Enchantment, Ross trades off verses with Ne-Yo doing his best Maurice White impression that could makes some waves in the hot tub between you and your boo. On “Live Fast, Die Young", Kanye and Ross meet up to bring some ridiculous, champagne-drenched charisma over a solid effort by Kanye behind the boards. Ross pulls out his book of outrageous lines for K-Weezy, closing verse one with this ridiculous gem: “She came to party like it’s 1999 / If she’d died on my dick/she’d live through my rhymes."

Despite the chuckle it might induce between your friends, Ross’ wet-dream fantastical lyrics can also be his biggest turn-off. Teflon Don, like all his albums, is kind of like a blaxploitation cum Broadway musical: a pastiche of emotions, villain, heroes, drugs, scantily-clad chicks (lots of them) and choruses you’ll have stuck in your head for weeks to come. The problem comes in that Ross can’t seem to pen anything else. He rarely gets personal and almost never delves into the dirty-dirty of what it took him to make all that drug money. Towing the same cocaine-line with the rest of Ross’ work in the past, it focuses on the flash and fun in sacrifice of all those bullet-dodging, Pyrex-stirring details.

Fuck it, though. Ross is good at what he does and rap needs guys like him to liven up the party and get us hyped. On Teflon Don, Ross perfectly picks choice beats from J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League that work with his hefty flow, fills guest-spots with rappers of the moment (Gucci Mane) and established stars (Jadakiss, Raphael Saddiq) while throwing all that glamour and glitz at you with an impressively confident soulful, thug-swagger. He even spends a rare second getting personal to eulogize his father on “All the Money in the World” with: “I can hear my daddy sayin’, ‘Lil nigga, go get him’ /Passed in ’99, cancer all in his liver” and then, “I would never rap again if I can tell him that I miss him.” It’s not much, but it’s new territory for Ross that allows him to still maintain the leather-lined comfort of his Maybach-driving rhymes while breaking out of his money/chicks/cars shtick for a hot second.

Don’t be fooled, its still the same money-hungry, Yacht Club card-carrying Rick Ross on Teflon Don. And while his fourth full-length may not garner him any best-rapper-alive awards, Ricky is sure making a run for being recognized as who the rap world can turn to in the late Y2K’s for some rousing, anthemic tales of success and all the riches it yields for better or worse. At some point, this money-rap game is going to grow stale, but with Rick Ross around, it has rarely sounded so good.

7

This book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Marcelino Truong launched his autobiographical account of growing up in Saigon during the Vietnam War with the acclaimed graphic novel Such a Lovely Little War: Saigon 1961-63, originally published in French in 2012 and in English translation in 2016. That book concluded with his family's permanent relocation to London, England, as the chaos and bloodshed back home intensified.

Now Truong continues the tale with Saigon Calling: London 1963-75 (originally published in French in 2015), which follows the experiences of his family after they seek refuge in Europe. It offers a poignant illustration of what life was like for a family of refugees from the war, and from the perspective of young children (granted, Truong's family were a privileged and upper class set of refugees, well-connected with South Vietnamese and European elites). While relatives and friends struggle to survive amid the bombs and street warfare of Vietnam, the displaced narrator and his siblings find their attention consumed by the latest fashion and music trends in London. The book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Music

The World of Captain Beefheart: An Interview with Gary Lucas and Nona Hendryx

Gary Lucas and Nona Hendryx (photo © Michael DelSol courtesy of Howlin' Wuelf Media)

Guitarist and band leader Gary Lucas and veteran vocalist Nona Hendryx pay tribute to one of rock's originals in this interview with PopMatters.

From the opening bars of "Suction Prints", we knew we had entered The World of Captain Beefheart and that was exactly where we wanted to be. There it was, that unmistakable fast 'n bulbous sound, the sudden shifts of meter and tempo, the slithery and stinging slide guitar in tandem with propulsive bass, the polyrhythmic drumming giving the music a swing unlike any other rock band.

Keep reading... Show less

From Haircut 100 to his own modern pop stylings, Nick Heyward is loving this new phase of his career, experimenting with genre with the giddy glee of a true pop music nerd.

In 1982, Nick Heyward was a major star in the UK.

As the leader of pop sensations Haircut 100, he found himself loved by every teenage girl in the land. It's easy to see why, as Haircut 100 were a group of chaps so wholesome, they could have stepped from the pages of Lisa Simpson's "Non-Threatening Boys" magazine. They resembled a Benetton knitwear advert and played a type of quirky, pop-funk that propelled them into every transistor radio in Great Britain.

Keep reading... Show less

Despite the uninspired packaging in this complete series set, Friday Night Lights remains an outstanding TV show; one of the best in the current golden age of television.

There are few series that have earned such universal acclaim as Friday Night Lights (2006-2011). This show unreservedly deserves the praise -- and the well-earned Emmy. Ostensibly about a high school football team in Dillon, Texas—headed by a brand new coach—the series is more about community than sports. Though there's certainly plenty of football-related storylines, the heart of the show is the Taylor family, their personal relationships, and the relationships of those around them.

Keep reading... Show less
10

Mixing some bland "alternate" and "film" versions of Whitney Houston's six songs included on The Bodyguard with exemplary live cuts, this latest posthumous collection for the singer focuses on pleasing hardcore fans and virtually no one else.

No matter how much it gets talked about, dissected, dismissed, or lionized, it's still damn near impossible to oversell the impact of Whitney Houston's rendition of "I Will Always Love You".

Keep reading... Show less
4
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image