“Big” is not enough for Ross. Reality is not exciting for him. Despite a revelation that could have killed his career, Ross has continued to make music, increasing the extravagance and ridiculousness on every album. He opened his last album saying these immortal words:
If I die today, remember me like John Lennon/
Buried in Louis, I’m talkin all brown linen/
Make all my b*tches tattoo my logo on their t*tty/
Put a statue of a n*gga in the middle of the city/
Yet as exaggerated as his music as his, the man has become a more appealing and possibly, iconic, figure. Who else could rap about a cocaine empire when his past shows otherwise? Who else could have survived such a shocking revelation and become even more successful? Who else had one of the most recognizable faces to use as a logo? And which other musician would have called a special press conference when a simple blog post would have sufficed? Only Rick Ross. Because a simple blog post does not fit in his world of movie-inspired celebrity mobsters living the high life of cars, jewels, and women. For him, everything has to be done big.
Sometimes the grand schemes get overwhelming, though, and the hype becomes intolerable. Diddy (who still continues his search for the next Biggie) praised Ross as one of the “greats”. Lyor Cohen compared Ross to Jay-Z and Nas. L.A. Reid even has a small appearance on the album. The overhyping efforts have thus tarnished the loftiness and exaggeration of Ross’ universe such that GFID now feels like a product of hype rather than an album that aims for greater heights than its excellent predecessor.
Make no mistake: the album carries some promising but eventually disappointing moments. After a great first half of ambition and atmosphere, Ross panders into familiar territory to make up for the streets in the mediocre “Hold Me Back”. “Presidential” should have been something more adventurous but it ends sounding like a track that never made it on Trilla or Deeper than Rap. But Ross’ personal best achievement thus far, “3 Kings”, is easily one of the most disappointing big-name collaborations in a while. Dr. Dre is still stuck on the idea that he is still f*cking Dr. Dre in a time where he is becoming a memory as Detox continues to be vaporware legend. Ross sounds unprepared, overwhelmed for the first time in four years. And Jay sounds like he couldn’t really give a f*ck (he did admit in the song that his verse was just a freestyle).
Maybe the most disappointing aspect of it all is Ross’ rapping. After vast improvements shown on Deeper Than Rap that continued to increase with every subsequent release, Ross seems to have mostly gone back to square one. The man who had some of the best guest verses from 2010 to 2012 sounds trite and confused. There are moments when Ross shows his full vitality and moments where he slinks into mediocrity. The man seems less fearsome when just a few months ago, a guest verse of Nas’ “Accident Murderers” and earlier, a mixtape titled Rich Forever, proved to be the opposite. On his own album, most of his guests surpass him mightily.
Overall, God Forgives, I Don’t can be enjoyed in bits and pieces. Where the beats may be great, the rapping may be sub-par. Where the beats may be average, the rapping will be fantastic. Then there are those songs where the beats and the rapping are both stellar. Sadly, an album is graded mostly on consistency and the lack of it makes this a tame release in comparison to his previous efforts.