Seven takeaways from Rick Ross' sixth LP
Last night in an underground theater inside Midtown’s World Star Stages, Rick Ross held a private listening session for his sixth studio album, Mastermind, three weeks ahead of its March 4th release. After an introduction from friend and longtime collaborator DJ Khaled, Ross grunted into a microphone from somewhere offstage before emerging in a zebra print leather jacket with a bottle of Belaire Rosé in hand. After a few words of thanks, he dipped back out of sight as the lights faded and the Mastermind experience kicked off with an earth-shaking explosion of bass. Here's what I learned.
There’s a track dedicated to Notorious BIG
As previously reported after an October listening session, producer Diddy revives Biggie’s prophetic “You’re Nobody (Til Somebody Kills You)” for a standout track simply titled “Nobody.” French Montana provides his take on the classic hook, and Ross details last year’s brush with death over the nostalgic instrumental, at times seeming to channel the late rapper. There was a burst of applause as the song faded out, which didn’t happen again until the end of the album.
There’s also a tribute to ODB
On “What a Shame,” Ross borrows lines from Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s trigger-happy anthem “Shame on a Nigga.” Interestingly, the track’s hook is a play on Camp Lo’s 1997 hit “Luchini.” Again, it’s sung by French, who swaps the luchini-pouring lyric for one about stacking bricks to the sky, and inserts a few haan’s for good measure.
Kanye West and DJ Mustard co-produced a glorious track together
With rhapsodic gospel samples and a stirring piano melody, “Sanctified,” is the album’s emotional pinnacle, featuring verses from Big Sean and West (the latter of which you can preview below).
Katt Williams is on Mastermind
J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League sampled “‘93 ‘Til Infinity”
Fans of Souls of Mischief’s definitive track (which turns 21 this year) will instantly recognize the woozy opening tones of album finale “Thug Cry,” which also features Lil Wayne in great form and another chicken wing reference from Ross.
Rick Ross wants you to stay in school
A vast majority of the evening’s visuals were projections related to the music—Oprah and Michael Jordan on “Rich Is Gangsta,” Charlie Sheen on “Drug Dealers Dream.” However, as the D. Rich-produced “BLK & WHT” concluded, a message for the audience was stamped across the big screen in stark black letters: “Get an education.” On the track, the Wingstop boss rhymes “diploma” with “lemon pepper aroma” and croons like a pimp in a bubble bath.
Rick Ross’ women can cook
We learn two things about the females in Ross’ life on “Sanctified.” 1.) Their fellatio is amazing. 2.) They make the best grilled cheese you’ve ever tasted.
Rick Ross fans aren’t interested in Scarface or Z-Ro
Or maybe they don’t care about bonus tracks. I was one of two guests who remained seated during “Blessing in Disguise,” featuring Houston legend Scarface and perpetually underrated rapper Z-Ro.