Rick Ross is, in every way imaginable, the epitome of arrogantly flashy. His lyrics, filled with money, sex, drugs, and profanity, do not seem to lead anywhere even remotely meaningful. Fans are going to have to try to sift through the rubble of meaningless garbage Ross so effortlessly offers in Mastermind to find something somewhat redeemable – however, it is so, so tempting to give up.
The only redeemable qualities of this album are, perhaps, the features and production. It is truly difficult to find any actually enjoyable song to listen to fully without wanting to give up – however, the song ‘The Devil Is A Lie’ just about warrants a listen, if you enjoy mediocre Jay-Z songs. With Jay-Z featuring, this tune provides a fairly Jay sounding beat and production, with an average-sounding verse from Jay himself. Ross’ verses on this song are nothing special. It’s both depressing and confusing that this is one of the better songs on such a high profile album.
Ross later employs a feature from Scarface on the song ‘Blessing In Disguise’, which saves Ross’ once again boring and redundant rapping with a classic-sounding southern verse. Whilst Scarface’s verse isn’t particularly innovative, it effortlessly outshines Ross’ rapping on the entire album.
‘Mafia Music III’ provides an enjoyable beat, complimented by a funk-influenced guitar undertone. This production is, strangely, complimented by Ross’ verse, but is especially well accompanied by Mavado’s energetic Jamaican flow. This song is the best on the album, although this isn’t really saying much when Mastermind sets the bar so low. A similarly enjoyable sense also occurs from The Weeknd’s feature on ‘In Vein’, which is a soft, calmly produced song, made pleasant by the indulgent vocals of The Weeknd.
The song ‘Sanctified’ features Chicago and Detroit rappers, and fellow GOOD Music members, Kanye West and Big Sean. Kanye’s painlessly conceited and egotistical persona in this song is rather tiring, and the little snippet of Sean we hear is seemingly no different to any other Big Sean song, or verse, we’ve heard in the past – reminding the listener of his attempt in getting ‘one hundred million dollars and a bad bitch.’ However, the production of this song is fairly enjoyable – with Kanye providing a light piano melody and heavy overarching beat, complimented by a string effect.
It is worth ending on this final note; Rick Ross just isn’t a good rapper. He is, at best, average – I cannot find any quality of his that is in any way special or unique. Ross gets by in the rap game through connections, features, arguably good production, and having a difficult to ignore, overly garish persona rather than any actual talent.By Anoosh Djavaheri