The first thing to know about Rick Ross new Rich Forever mixtape is that it doesnt sound like a mixtape that he should be making at this sky-high point in his careers arc. Unless it’s financed enough to replace a full-length album, the average rap mixtape nowadays suffers markedly from poor mastering and/or lack of focus. Rich Forever doesnt face either of those problems; it sounds nuanced, labored-over, expensive, and expansive. Its also good to know that Rich Forever is merely a pit-stop on the way to Ross recently deferred and highly anticipated fifth studio album, God Forgives, I Dont, because this is a more coherent showing than a lot of big-time rappers most recent full-lengths (Im looking at you, Doggumentary and Lasers).
By now, every Ross fan should know that the Florida natives persona is something of a faÃ§ade; he probably couldnt sell you a ki straight off his iPhone, and he might not even zip around in luxe speedboats all that often. That said, listening to Ross can be pure fantasy, and Rich Forever thrives on that notion: Me and LeBron got the same whips/Me and Dwyane on the same strip, goes a typically hubristic couplet. Ross has been increasingly nimble on the mic lately, and while he doesnt show that much here, he mostly belts out brusque, hashtag-spawning lines about his power in the rap game. He never really gets boring. That cant quite be said about his rapping on 2006s Port of Miami or 2008s Trilla.
One of the reasons Ross can justifiably call himself raps boss is that he tends to brings out the best in his collaborators, and thats illuminated here. Stay Schemin, featuring Drake and French Montana, became a trending topic on Twitter right after Rich Forever dropped, partly because its one of the best tracks here and partly because Drizzy subliminally sucker-punches Common with his bars. While its no B.M.F., the obligatory Lex Luger-produced track Off the Boat hits as hard as half the Luger tracks from Waka Flocka Flames game-changing Flockaveli. Speaking of B.M.F., the brass-powered Keys to the Crib grabs that tracks collaborator Styles P, and is a triumphant reunion. Even the resurging Nas shows up in top form on Triple Beam Dreams. These are Friday night anthems, readymade for the hours and hours of cruising.
That said, Rich Forever doesnt boast any potential mega-hits. But thats actually a good reason to give this a spin; the songs here are strong without shooting for the stars, hopefully because Ross is saving that kind of stuff for God Forgives. Consider this a rousing sneak-peek to what could be raps biggest event-album of 2012.
Essential Tracks: “High Definition”, “Keys to the Crib”, and Stay Schemin