Ring Ring: Rick Ross is “Rich Forever”

Jonah Bromwich knows Herbert Hoover. The real Herbert Hoover. It’s safe to say that no one really thinks that Mike Tyson is still cool. So when Rick Ross, liver of the most exquisite of lifestyles...
By    January 19, 2012

Jonah Bromwich knows Herbert Hoover. The real Herbert Hoover.

It’s safe to say that no one really thinks that Mike Tyson is still cool. So when Rick Ross, liver of the most exquisite of lifestyles and all-around ambawseador includes a quote from Iron Mike about a change in priorities at the start of his new mixtape, Rich Forever, it’s interesting. And not in the BAYTL is half-worthwhile if you give it a couple of listens and then screw it up and then drink a whole lot of cough syrup” interesting. Legitimately interesting.

Why would a man who usually likes to claim an affinity for the hardest, most masculine, most uncompromising drug dealers around place Tyson’s lisping, oddly high-pitched voice, gesturing to the wealth around him and calling it “garbage,” on his album? Ross boasts about his riches incessantly; it’s his trademark. But in the wake of his seizures this past year, it seems as if the Boss might actually be starting to rethink his priorities.

Of course it’s ludicrous to arrive at that conclusion over a Mike Tyson quote. And it’s not as if the lavish boasts aren’t still there, and still great to hear. With an unusually spry flow, Ricky compares himself to the other boss on “Fuck Em:” “Corvette so bling you’ll think Bruce Springsteen rent that.” On the title track, John Legend howls an epic chorus at the heavens while Ross brags that the people at the bank call him Mr. Roberts, and celebrates a Sunday with Louis shots at Club Liv (a club which he brings up a couple more times, they must have really plush seats). There are two songs that mention diamonds in their titles. In these ways, Rich Forever is much like any of the Rick Ross releases that we’ve enjoyed over the past few years.

But there’s a gnawing engaging vulnerability on Rich Forever. Ross might be dissatisfied, underneath all those layers of cashmere, Gucci, and moobs. He jokes on “High Definition” that you could call his diamond necklace “the ghetto’s guillotine,” a darker insight than those he usually pairs with the signifiers of his wealth. There’s a point at which, reflecting on his friend in jail, he drinks liquor from the bottom of the bottle, “ain’t no glass to fill,” and it isn’t a boast. On “Triple Beam Dream,” (after another killer Nas verse) he says that while his house may have two elevators, the more important feature is the “cameras every angle,” the better to keep an eye on all the haters in the parking lot. He even complains that counting money has become repetitious.

And there’s a lot of death on this mixtape, whether it be Ross induced or Ross’s own. “Yella Diamonds” is an intimidating song, as Ross gleefully celebrates a home invasion with a violence that’s jarring from a guy who had frankly become a little too loveable. “Seeing your daughter scream can be very persuasive nigga…all in your woman’s face, fuck up her makeup nigga” is not a line I’d expect to hear from an amiable roundtable participant from Chelsea Lately. Ross is worried about himself as well: “I Swear to God” is a bucket list song, as Ross raps about living his life to the fullest for every day that he’s still alive. “Last Breath” too, as the title suggests, is focused on death, as Ross tries hard to maintain his modus of “balling ‘til his last breath.” But if it’s all as hollow as Tyson suggests, what does any of it mean?

The cover of Rich Forever is the only cover of any Rick Ross album or mixtape that I can remember where you can see the man’s eyes. And while that’s probably pure coincidence, there’s a clear connection between the openness of that heavy-lidded stare and the issues that Ross is airing out, perhaps for the first time, on this record. After all, being Rich Forever is impossible if you’re dead.

MP3: Rick Ross ft. Nas-“Triple Beam Dreams”

MP3: Rick Ross-“Holy Ghost”

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