Rick Ross takes a classic approach to entertainment and makes generic rap that everyone can enjoy! Teflon Don has the potential to be everyone's, especially self-proclaimed elitists like myself, guilty pleasure of the summer with appearances from artists like Gucci Mane and Raphael Saadiq, yet keep an appearance to satisfy the streets and corporate businessmen. Yes, the "BAWSE!" hits a home run with his latest album by ducking behind his star-studded guests and production, just as his predecessors in rap have done before.
To shorten this - and every major summer 2010 rap album - review, I'm taking a different approach and using a guide I have made. Basically, Ross is following Jay-Z's "how to make it in rap" guide to the T! Here's how:
1. Add songs glorifying drug rap without necessarily saying dealing drugs is cool. His big summer hit "BMF" (which he says stands for Blowin' Money Fast, but also could stand for Black Mafia Family) is clearly a drug rap with several drug references from the hook to the bars. He starts off saying "I think I'm Big Meech, Larry Hoover, whipping work, hallelujah", and then brags about blowing money like several other drug dealers. Not to mention shouting out ex-cons and felons, among many other street-cred-boosting terms. Unfortunately, Rick Ross is only talking how much money he has and spends, so there's no real glorification of dealing drugs despite the drops of everything dealing with organized crime. So, back off coppers, he's clean.
2. Sprinkle songs that seem like it's remorseful for actions, but only rap about nothing of importance. After bringing up the names and references of street crime and dirty work, Ross attempts to wipe his hands clean of any wrongdoing people MIGHT think he did with songs like "Live Fast, Die Young," "Tears of Joy," and "All the Money in the World". He does put his fame and fortune in perspective, but no feelings are expressed for whatever past he had. This lack of remorse is a failure on his part as a true gangster rapper, just as any gangsta rapper that will talk about selling drugs and killing people will rap about the dark side of it in the same line. Take Tupac Shakur, for example, in "So Many Tears" or "Pain"; he always gave a reason or some sort of feeling of regret for his violent and damaging actions. In several of the songs on Teflon Don, the "BAWSE" falls short in taking advantage of that opportunity. This makes everyone question his street cred even more, as if people need more proof already.
3. Throw in a few political references that militants will enjoy. Not only does he makes songs that are appealing to the streets, but Ricky Rozay also makes references to prominent political figures. In "Tears of Joy", a rebelliously lackluster song about becoming successful and wealthy (as usual), he begins the song with an excerpt of a speech by Bobby Seale reciting America's greatest rebel Huey P. Newton. Overall, his attempt to be politically relevant falls short, but to say there really was an attempt just because of the Huey P. Newton recital would also be a fail as you can really tell he's not a militant-type of rapper. Instead of using it to push a political message, he spins it into a Biggie-type rap where he promotes getting money by any means necessary.
4. Stir in some songs for the ladies. Keeping things simple, Rick Ross attempts to woo the ladies with songs that ask them to be his ride or die chick. He joins forces with Ne-Yo (who was a bad call considering almost everyone in the world thinks he's gay) for "Super High" and collaborates with everyone's girlfriend's favorite rapper/singer Drake (who plays a singer role) as well as the most slept-on R&B singer of our time Chrisette Michelle for "Ashton Martin Music." In the beginning, he starts off with the infamous LL line from "I Need Love", but continues to spit about how much money he has. The only spin he makes to sooth the needs of the ladies is that his wealth makes him a worthy sponsor. In "Super High" he starts the second verse "I wanna buy my bitch every bag, and she ain't ever, ever, ever gotta take them back," and what woman wouldn't want to buy designer bags and not worry about lip-gloss stains because she has to make the 30-day, tag included return?
5. Add fired shots at people that took shots at success gained. Another one of Rick Ross's summer hits "Free Mason" was a direct shot at all of the conspiracy theorists that feel his success was not self-made. He even throws in everybody's favorite Illuminati rapper Jay-Z to state his argument "Bitch, I said I was amazing... not that I'm a Mason." Although Ross continues to flaunt his richness, the song is pure genius, with clever and witty references of the JFK assassination and allegations of the devil's hand in their success. The song, perhaps the strongest off Teflon Don, becomes generalized fuel for all people - whether members of the Illuminati or not - who seek to be successful.
6. Mix in star-studded cameos to every song to distract lack of talent and to satisfy everyone's musical taste. On Teflon Don, Rick Ross manages to pull in artists from all kinds of Black mainstream music. After the first song, Ross doesn't do a track alone. His lack of effort in changing up or diversifying his rhymes is ignored by the power his guests have. A list would include producers from the J.U.S.T.I.C.E League, No ID, Kanye West, and musicians Erykah Badu, T.I., John Legend, Drake, Trey Songz, and many more artists for EVERYONE to salivate over. His delivery is present on some tracks like "Free Mason" and "MC Hammer", but it comes at a cost of having guests that could care less about the collaboration love (Jay-Z and Gucci Mane, respectively). In result, people would rather cop the album for everyone on it (who does their job as guest on the album) but Rick Ross (who just takes up space and time talking about success he gained off of good musicians).
To sum up the success of this album, Ross gained the ability to slip past the Guards of Musical Taste and join the Album of the Summer Club by being that "oh, he's with me" kind of guy, despite the fact that Teflon Don is his album! As long as people can see past the stars and see that big ball of gas that is Rick Ross, then they will REALLY see how blahzay Teflon Don actually is.
Star's Grade: C+