When the tracklist of Rick Ross’ LP God Forgives, I Don’t hit the Internets, rap heads gasped in anticipation over a feature appearance by the selective OutKast half Andre 3000. Yet Rozay accredits production trio J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League for the first collabo between the Southern rap giants.
“What really made this record dope before the collaboration [was] just finding that bed of music, finding the right production to pull out that emotion that made you a fan of whatever artist you’re working with,” says Ross of the saxophonist-meets-funk instrumental that he and 3000 “basically [went] crazy” over. “I sent a beat over to the homie, spoke a few times and man, the ideas came up and it was really big.”
The eight-minute, ’70s soul-inspired track mixes machismo hip-hop and soul bounce, opening with a grand opera-styled introduction and closing with a twisted electric guitar. Ross namedrops music legends like Sammy Davis Jr. and John Coltrane, while Andre 3000 waxes nostalgic, conjuring late-80s memories of Crayola crayons and days “before girls wore makeup.”
While on the surface “Sixteen,” recalls the allure of those carefree teenager days, Ross says the concept also centers on breaking out of hip-hop standard 16-bar rhyme structure.
“It was just about the best wordplay, and how many bars the verses are,” says Ross. “Sixteen bars [aren’t] enough to express yourself sometimes.”
Ross’ fifth album boasts 16 more tracks of MMG’s raucous soul, along with guest appearances by Jay-Z, Dr. Dre, Ne-Yo, Usher, Drake and his Maybach family.
God Forgives, I Don’t is available everywhere next Tuesday (July 31). —Carmen Shardae Jobson with additional reporting by Clover Hope