With seven albums in just eight years, Rick Ross has another banger in his catalog with Hood Billionaire. Released through Def Jam, Slip-n-Slide Records, and his label Maybach Music Group, Hood Billionaire doesn’t reinvent the wheel or show us anything that we haven’t seen from Ross since his debut in 2006, but he certainly isn’t slacking. If you love Rick Ross than you will love this album. If you haven’t been a fan in the past however, don’t expect Hood Billionaire to win you over. Just because Ross has changed on the outside (having lost over 100 lbs.), he hasn’t changed on the inside, musically at least. Depending on who you are, Hood Billionaire either brilliantly sticks with a theme and a certain sound or it is too repetitive and everything sounds the same (it is all about perception for this one). Fortunately for myself however, I can always go for some more music from the “Teflon Don”.
Through its intro and first full track ‘Hood Billionaire’, Lex Luger’s production initially sets the tone for Ross’ opening verse. “Kilo at the telly, bitch it’s Makiaveli. Double M empire, I know these niggas fear me.” The production, the flow, the content, and the swagger that fans have loved ever since ‘Hustlin’ all comes back to us within the opening track’s first two bars. Next comes the Beat Billionaire produced track ‘Coke Like The 80’s’ which has a simple yet bumping piano instrumental that opens with a soundbite from the “This is Your Brain on Drugs” PSA from the 1980s (only fitting for a song with such a title). The beat goes hard and so does Ross, making ‘Coke Like The 80s’ one of Hood Billionaire stand outs.
The first low for me came in Ross’ collaborative track with his MMG artist Whole Slab. While Slab definitely held his own with Ross, ‘Heavyweight’ (also produced by Beat Billionaire) was perhaps too cheesy in its hook.
“Heavyweight, I’m in the ring nigga, ding ding. Nigga, ding ding. Nigga, ding ding. Don’t make me hit you ‘cross your head, nigga, ding ding. Runnin’ off with all your things, ding ding.”
The track you will definitely want to turn up to in your car is ‘Neighborhood Drug Dealer’, as the beat is probably the best on the album. The stellar production should be no surprise though, as it was produced by one of the biggest producers in rap at the moment, producer Metro Boomin (Future, Young Thug, Gucci Mane). As soon as you hear hear the producer’s “Metro Boomin’ want some more n*gga” DJ tag come in, you know you’re in for a hit. The beat doesn’t entirely make this song though, as Ross definitely wins you over with a subtle but hilarious Al Capone reference (although it technically was syphilis, not gonorrhea that killed legendary gangster Al Capone).
“P*ssy n*ggas gossip pray you die from gonorrhea. Al Capone where I’m from that Benzo bullet proof.”
Next comes a couple songs, that are not horrible, yet do not blow you away either. ‘Phone Tap’ has a slower tempo (a nice change of pace) but it is not a stand out track. ‘Trap Luv’ ft. Yo Gotti has great background vocals and a nice weight loss reference from Ross “still losing weight, with the South on my back,” but it does not blow listeners away either. Next however, comes Hood Billionaire‘s first single, ‘Elvis Presley Blvd. ft. Project Pat. Again, a song about selling drugs, but this one is unique in that Ross is especially cocky about his dealings. “I could fly Priscilla, send her in the mail. She got Meek Milly cellphone in the county jail.” For those who need an encryption, Ross is reminding us that he can ship cocaine (“Priscilla”, as cocaine is as white as the name ‘Priscilla’) in the mail and he can use those same drugs to sneak in a cellphone to MMG rapper Meek Mill, during his recent stay in jail.
The remaining highlights in the album comes with its guest appearances. ‘Movin’ Bass’ is one of the album’s top tracks, which features a hook from Jay-Z (and Timbaland production). Then ‘Nickel Rock’ has a Lil Boosie verse that you will soon know every word to. The flow throughout ‘Nickel Rock’, from both Boosie and Ross is untouchable. The other definite keeper in the album is Ross’ collaboration with the legendary R. Kelly, titled ‘Keep Doin’ That’ (the album’s second single). ‘Keep Doin’ That’ is definitely a catchy song for the clubs.
A number of track, while they may grow on me, seem relatively forgettable in comparison to the rest of the album. ‘If They Knew’ ft. K. Michelle has production from Timbaland, but the beat is too busy and drowns out much of the rapping. ‘Quintessential’ has a feature from Snoop Dogg, but Snoop bites too much from the flow made famous by Big Sean and Drake. ‘Burn’ stays consistent with the sound and theme of the rest of Ross’ music, but is not up to par with other similar tracks. Finally, ‘Family Ties’ is in the top five beats on the album (produced by Cardiak CritaCal), however the song crutches on its production. The album certainly closes on a high note however. In ‘Brimstone’ Big K.R.I.T. provides an extended hook on the track that he produced. The song has Outkast influences and is accompanied with a nice bass guitar. With some of Ross’ best raps on the album, ‘Brimstone’ is another standout track.
Again this album is not going to likely change anyone’s opinion of Rick Ross, but Hood Billionaire is worth its weight in Kilo references. While the cynical may find Ross’ raps and subject matter too repetitive, others (myself included) only want to hear more about Ross’ dealings. You don’t have to sell drugs to enjoy Hood Billionaire but you certainly will need to turn up the volume when you play this one in your car. Rick Ross is two for two when it comes to making rap bangers in 2014, and it is comforting to see that he is not slowing down or suffering in quality as he continues to put out more and more music.