Rick Ross' 'God Forgives, I Don't': What the Critics Are Saying
Rapper Rick Ross released his fifth album, God Forgives, I Don’t, and its title alone would prompt most to take pause. Referencing a lyric from Ross’ last mix tape Rich Forever, the big boss makes no apologies, however -- not for his riches, his growing musical empire or the undeniable darkness of his latest studio effort.
Featuring guest spots by some of rap and R&B's biggest names, Drake, Jay-Z, Andre 3000, Dr. Dre, Ne-Yo and Usher among them, Ross described the music as "extremely lyrical" and "next level" during a pre-release press confernence. "I'm expecting nothing but the biggest results," he said. "This album is the missing part of my legacy. This is gonna put me over the top.”
What are the critics saying? Read on...
THR sister magazine Billboard gives Ross points for creativity, writing: “Ross saves himself from redundancy with triumphant soundscapes, the majority of which are produced by long-time collaborators that guarantee a hit, J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League, and terse wordplay interwoven between the countless boastful rhymes.”
Steve Jones of USA Today is impressed with Ross' ambitious collaborations. “One of his many star-studded tracks, '3 Kings,' features Jay-Z and Dr. Dre, but he's brazen enough to pull it off. Andre 3000 makes an always-welcome appearance on the soul-fueled 'Sixteen.' Ross also gets plenty of help from Maybach labelmates Wale, Stalley, Omarian and Meek Mill, plus Drake, Ne-Yo and Usher. The stars are big; the Boss' aspirations are bigger.”
Rolling Stone gave God Forgives four stars, even while noting a few flaws. Writes critic Jonah Weiner: “There are times when God Forgives is as engrossing and surprising as rap can be. Over beats that alternate between sparkling, decadent string arrangements and assaultive, synthesized blare, Ross pretzels hip-hop's familiar rags-to-riches arc into a Möbius strip, slaloming around an autobiographical timeline that may or may not be his own. One moment he's enjoying '20-stack seats at the Heat game'; the next he's counting small-timer 'brown-bag money.' Here he's in a Maybach; a few bars down he's in a rental car. ... Ross is a restless eccentric masquerading as a no-frills traditionalist, and his best boasts go overboard to the point of incoherence. “
Entertainment Weekly, which rates the album an A-, hails Ross for staying true to himself. “The Miami native embodies his distorted version of the gangsta American dream so completely that he manages to transcend cliché," writes Kyle Anderson. "Call it the James Cameron approach: When all else fails, hit ’em with the IMAX. Sure, he’s been bragging about his rep since his 2006 debut, but God Forgives is the first album that really feels like it was made by a boss.”
The Associated Press praises Ross' vocal style as "full of bravado with eloquence that is easy to digest" and the album as "loaded with undeniable quality tunes" and "his most well-balanced piece of work to date." But the outlet is most taken with Ross' lyrical skills saying that "the burly, bearded Ross ... has made strides as a lyricist and storyteller."
God Forgives, I Don’t, released by Maybach Music/Def Jam, is available now.