Rick Ross: Port of Miami

Miami rapper channels your local multiplex.

Rick Ross

Port of Miami

Label: Slip'n'Slide
US Release Date: 2006/08/08
UK Release Date: 2006/08/08

Def Jam’s marketing campaign for Young Jeezy’s Thug Motivation 101 was a massive success. The shirts with glittery, thugged-out snowmen were immensely popular and bootlegged extensively. Even a year later, his frosty avatar is hard to avoid, with hundreds of ads for Jeezy tha Snowman walking around urban America. This summer, Def Jam has gone a step further. Search Google Images for Rick Ross and notice the uniformity of the results. Google finds a few publicity photos, some private MySpace flicks and a handful of screen captures from his “Hustlin” video. In all of them, the limo-tint stunner shades and self-proclaimed Bin Laden beard on Ross’s big fat head make him instantly recognizable. The look is more than a trademark, it’s a logo. He is his own snowman.

Def Jam could never promote Jeezy this way, and not only because he’s an average-looking dude. Jeezy’s personality is one of his strong suits. Motivation is a gripping, emotional album, contrasting the high life of his success with the hard work and pain he endured to get to where he is today. But Rick Ross is simple. Rap has seen very few missions statements as succinct as the opening lines of the trunk-destroying lead single “Hustlin”:

Who the fuck you think you fuckin with? I’m the fuckin boss

745 white-on-white, that’s fuckin Ross

The first scene of the video for “Hustlin” follows Ross as he cruises the bleached terrain of the Miami slums in his trademark white-on-white BMW, collecting his dues from all the neighborhood earners. As he spits the first line out the window, everything you need to know about Rick Ross comes together: the beard, the shades, the car, the boss. And that’s pretty much it, although his disdain for Jose Canseco (mentioned in the second verse) is worth noting, Port of Miami stars Rick Ross as James Bond: charismatic, iconic and entirely two-dimensional.

Port of Miami is popcorn rap, easily digested summer goodies that don’t require much thought. Like Bond, Ross never sweats, filling the album with smooth bon mots seperated with ample pauses for effect. He does call and response with his overdubs, a legion of Ross’s there to echo his greatness. He seems more interested in reaping the spoils of being The Boss than in doing any enforcing. Though “Hustlin” was a perfect single to introduce Rick Ross as an idea, Port is more about tracks like the self-congratulatory “Blow” and “Boss". On “Blow", Ross proclaims, “I get head, bust nuts and eat steak” over the most cheezed-out synths imaginable. Even the sex jams “Hit U From the Back” and “Get Away” are great (sample lyric: “you the one I’m havin dinner with / and it’s candlelit / can you handle it?”).

Port shines brighter in the penthouse than in the streets. “Hustlin” and its remix featuring Young Jeezy and Jay-Z are are still megaton bombs, but the identical “Where My Money (I Need That)” is not as good. Elsewhere, Ross’s nonchalance sounds out of place beside Akon’s tragic crooning (“Cross That Line”) or Lil Wayne’s intricately enunciated lyricism (“I’m a G”). The best trips to the trenches are the cop-show-theme-driven “I’m Bad” and the irresistible thug’n’b of “Street Life,” over-the-top jams that mesh much better with the rest of the album.

The track "White House" also sounds out of place. Built on a somber beat by DJ Toomp (of TI’s “What You Know” fame), the melancholy track is Ross's most genuinely emotional moment. (He gets kind of deep on "Pots'n'Pans" as well, but he also says "the world fucked up/that's why I stay fucked up/don't get fucked up/fuck with me, ya fucked up.") By not fitting in with Rick Ross's catchy and disposible adventures on Port of Miami, "White House" shows Ross's potential depth; he can emote, but not effectively on an album this shallow. There's clearly more to dude than the beard, shades and white-on-white car, but it will take an album where the real kingpin talk outweighs the rhymes for the ladies to reveal the mind behind the logo. But for what it is, Port of Miami will do.


To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.

Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

Keep reading... Show less

Very few of their peers surpass Eurythmics in terms of artistic vision, musicianship, songwriting, and creative audacity. This is the history of the seminal new wave group

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominating committee's yearly announcement of the latest batch of potential inductees always generates the same reaction: a combination of sputtering outrage by fans of those deserving artists who've been shunned, and jubilation by fans of those who made the cut. The annual debate over the list of nominees is as inevitable as the announcement itself.

Keep reading... Show less

Barry Lyndon suggests that all violence—wars, duels, boxing, and the like—is nothing more than subterfuge for masculine insecurities and romantic adolescent notions, which in many ways come down to one and the same thing.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) crystalizes a rather nocturnal view of heterosexual, white masculinity that pervades much of Stanley Kubrick's films: after slithering from the primordial slime, we jockey for position in ceaseless turf wars over land, money, and women. Those wielding the largest bone/weapon claim the spoils. Despite our self-delusions about transcending our simian stirrings through our advanced technology and knowledge, we remain mired in our ancestral origins of brute force and domination—brilliantly condensed by Kubrick in one of the most famous cuts in cinematic history: a twirling bone ascends into the air only to cut to a graphic match of a space station. Ancient and modern technology collapse into a common denominator of possession, violence, and war.

Keep reading... Show less

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

Canadian soul singer Elise LeGrow shines on her impressive interpretation of Fontella Bass' classic track "Rescue Me".

Canadian soul singer Elise LeGrow pays tribute to the classic Chicago label Chess Records on her new album Playing Chess, which was produced by Steve Greenberg, Mike Mangini, and the legendary Betty Wright. Unlike many covers records, LeGrow and her team of musicians aimed to make new artistic statements with these songs as they stripped down the arrangements to feature leaner and modern interpretations. The clean and unfussy sound allows LeGrow's superb voice to have more room to roam. Meanwhile, these classic tunes take on new life when shown through LeGrow's lens.

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

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