Rick Ross(1)Harold Stallworth is making informants get plastic surgery.

Calling all Rick Ross loyalists: batten down the hatches and circle the Maybachs — trying times are before us. Florida’s greatest export since the winter-harvested tangelo appears to be on a downturn. In all likelihood, the quality of Mastermind, Ross’ sixth retail album tentatively due this holiday season, will do little to delay his impending backslide into irrelevance. Rap fans are notoriously fickle. Behind every successful run—especially to the extent of Ross’ half-decade stint as a staple of urban radio—lies an abrupt backlash. Ask The Game, who released one of last year’s most enjoyable major label LPs, only to be acknowledged in more lawsuits than year-end-lists.

To his credit, the Teflon Don isn’t going down without a fight. He handily stole the show on two of 2013’s biggest street anthems, Jay-Z’s “Fuck With Me (You Know I Got It)” and Rocko’s controversial “U.O.E.N.O.” In addition, he’s released a slew of rouge promotional freestyles, superimposing his husky voice onto hit records, unbeknownst to the likes of Drake, K.Michelle and Lorde. This latest string of unofficial remixes lean closer to Ross’ verbose Mafioso style than his sparse, breathy incarnation reserved for DJ Khaled’s posse cuts.

Ross’ newest uninvited feature lands on Mack Wild’s “Own It,” a Salaam Remi-produced summer jam that never quite took off—likely due to the industry’s natural reluctance to accept Michael from The Wire as Staten Island’s answer to Chris Brown. Surprisingly, Wilds’ debut album delivered in a major way. New York: A Love Story is arguably the best R&B release to earn a barcode since Miguel’s Grammy-nominated Kaleidoscope Dream. The tide of critical adulation may have turned for Rozay, but judging from his recent output he’s still a competent rapper with impeccable taste. That bodes well for the quality of his music going forward.

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