In true modest Maybach Music Group fashion, the invite for last night’s Mastermind listening session urged me to “Be a part of history!” by listening to “The biggest album from the biggest boss!” That boss, of course, is Rick Ross, who hosted a who’s who of industry execs, artists, media and his own MMG family in Manhattan’s New World Stages auditorium to hear what he’s been cooking up for his sixth album. Is it crack? Based on one listen (from speakers taller than two Shaqs), it’s hard to tell. But here’s a knee-jerk review of Rick Ross’ mind-blowing(?) sixth album. —John Kennedy
1. Mastermind does not have the colorful, glitzy feel of an album executive produced by Sean Combs. It’s a gritty, street LP. The beats are gloomier, hooks less John Legendary than previous albums.
2. Occasionally our bearded, shade-wearing hero sounds monotonous.
3. But there are a few experimental vibes that keep things interesting. Like the emo The Weeknd contribution “In Vein” (hated it) or the reggae tinge that Movado, Sizzla and producer Bink! provide on “Mafia Music III.”
4. The “Maybach Music” series that graces Ross’ last four solo discs takes a pause here—and it’s missed. But “Mafia Music III” fills in for the mafiosos and Mob Wives listening. (The first appeared on Deeper Than Rap, second was a Chrisette Michele-featured leftover from Teflon Don).
5. Lil’ B doesn’t get enough credit for creating hip-hop’s go-to turn-up dance. You know: fists pointed north, elbows bent, arms swinging open and closed like a chest fly. Anyways, you’ll be doing that for the entire 16-song duration.