‘Hood Billionaire’ – Rick Ross album review
You could almost tell Rick Ross was hoping to have a huge year for himself and his label in 2014. He released his previous album, Mastermind in March and though it was marketed as his classic, the album ultimately failed to earn great reviews. Still, he pushed the product and its better songs for as long as possible, releasing videos for his 4th and 5th singles in August. With Meek locked up and his album shelved indefinitely, and Wale focusing on his Album About Nothing, to be released in 2015, Ross had to skip his annual MMG Self Made album. Stalley’s Ohio release came and went quietly, so to keep the Maybach fire blazing, Ross took matters into his own hands. That brings us to Rick’s seventh studio album, Hood Billionaire.
To call this album a disappointment would be an understatement. Under normal circumstances Hood Billionaire would be a mixtape or it’s best songs would be saved for a better, well thought through album in 2015. Hood Billionaire finds Ross back in the streets as a “Neighborhood Drug Dealer” peddling “Nickel Rock” and “Moving Bass,” albeit a double entendre. He steps in a lane where Jeezy and Pusha T have found success, but for a rapper who has landed in the higher echelon of Rap because of his business savvy, this is a step backward for Wing Stop owner. He may be a far cry from legitimate luxury rap, but I still expect more.
The album starts slow, with songs Ross appears to barely be trying to deliver his infamous hard hitting rhymes on. Tracks like “Heavyweight” barely pack a punch and the hook falls far short of the clingy “MC Hammer” or “B.M.F. (Blowing Money Fast)” of his Teflon Don days.
Hood Billionaire‘s lead single, “Elvis Presley Blvd,” an ode to Memphis, featuring Project Pat fizzled with listeners and it’s all-star remix didn’t fare much better. The second single, “Keep Doing That,” which finds Ross again partnered with R. Kelly is a much more complete effort and the Kelz appearance has helped in garnering a push. Can’t help but notice even here Ross is content producing half-ass bars a la, “She only wears panties once/ Then pass it down to her niece.” I’ll just let that simmer.
To support his street ties and speak to his credibility, Ross recruits his friend, Kenneth “Boobie” Williams who narrates Hood Billionaire. Williams is imprisoned in a Federal Detention Center, so he has to provide his motivation over collect calls. In those moments one can’t help but to recall that Ross was a correctional officer, while Williams tries somewhat unconvincingly to persuade us that Ross is “a real street n*gga.” His C.O. past is something Hip-Hop already gave him a pass on, but you could almost hear 50 Cent laughing as you try to listen to some of this.
Ross is at his best when he features another rapper on the track, which doesn’t happen until track 7 with Yo Gotti on “Trap Luv.” The bass heavy track is one of the album’s better song. The aforementioned “Moving Bass,” which features Jay-Z on the hook and Timbaland on the beat would be a surefire hit if Jay-Z offered up a verse. Without it, the song is just lacking. Boosie brings out the best of Ross on “Nickel Rock.” It’s one of the album’s proven records, but sadly it’s surrounded by lesser material. Another Timbaland production, “If They Knew” slips in as a spark in the middle of Hood Billionaire. K. Michelle compliments Ross in a way Teedra Moses never got the opportunity.
If you’re a Ross fan and need to support, suit yourself. Otherwise you’re better off waiting for him to get back in the studio to make amends for this project.
Hood Billionaire receives a PA