When most artists reach their sixth album, fans and critics alike have a general idea of what the music sounds like. William Roberts II is no exception to this. After arriving in 2006 with Port of Miami, the Bawse has made a living off of his fictional tales that his fans soak up like sponges. His latest release, Mastermind, dropped this week. So let’s see how it stacked up to the rest.
After a brief trip down memory lane (Revisits Port of Miami) and sampling of Napoleon Hill’s “The Mastermind Principle“, Ross comes out swinging on “Rich Is Gangsta“. (“I just upped my stock, fuck them cops/If you love hip-hop bust them shots/Your man is priceless, if your man’s loyal/Better give that man a raise your end up paying for it”) He also tells that he doesn’t need assistance in making it in this game. (“For me to move forward from here on I need 50/I ain’t talking 50 Cent neither nigga, haha) The track was produced by Black Metaphor, who uses horns and a sample from The Average White Band to make the instrumental stand out. On “Drug Dealers Dream“, he acknowledges that dream isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. (“Is this a drug dealers dream?/Cause all I ever see is niggas dyin’ from disease/Mansion on the water, home in the hills/Let the Fed tell it, it really isn’t his/Photograph our endeavors, plottin’ potential set-ups/See me as a promotion, tax charges, etcetera”)
So here’s where I got annoyed with the album. On the Biggie sampled, French Montana featured “Nobody“, Ross embodies Biggie’s flow on the track as he tells street tales. (“I’m from where the streets test you/Niggas mix business and pleasure where the cocaine measure/The narcotics is our product/The by-product, you walk up on me, I cock it/New Mercedes as it peels off/Nothing penetrates the steel doors, gang signs, see ‘em all”) What really stands out is the Diddy rant sprinkled throughout this track as he was actually getting in someone for acting reckless. I was just mad at the Biggie sample but eh. Jay-Z shows up on “The Devil Is A Lie” where he and Ross both talk about the conspiracies against them. (“Is it truth or it’s fiction, is it truth or it’s fiction?/Is Hova atheist? I never fuck with True Religion/Am I down with the devil cuz my roof come up missin’?/Is that Lucifer juice in that two cup he sippin’?/That’s D’usse baby welcome to the dark side”) If you close your eyes and ignore the lyrics, the Mavado & Sizzla featured “Mafia Music III” is a perfect track.
Wait a minute, Keith Sweat is singing on “Supreme“? *facepalms* Okay… next. Two things about “BLK & WHT” 1. That hook is annoying as fuck. (“Young nigga black but he selling white”) and 2. He needs to GTFO referencing Trayvon Martin in his music. Kanye West shows up Rick Ross on “Sanctified” (“So you can gon’ and make them lies, but I’m so sanctified/I don’t sweat it, wipe my forehead with a handkerchief/And wash my sins in the blood of Jesus/People sayin’, “Ye we need another Yeezus”/Lames try to tell me, “Cut the wilin’ out, out”/But who the fuck is you reachin’”) The Meek Mill featured “Walkin’ On Air” makes for a dope instrumental. (“Wait a minute/Wait a minute/Wait a minute/Wait a minute”) And where did Lil Wayne on “Thug Cry” come from because the Weezy that we’ve been hearing wasn’t the same one that claimed to be the best in the world. J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League as usual came correct with the production on this track.
If you purchase the deluxe version of Mastermind, you’ll get three bonus tracks. Including a reprise of “You Know I Got It“. So what’s there to say about Mastermind? I mean it’s an album full of nice beats and cool guest verses from others MC’s. Ross’ fictional tales aside, he’ll sell records for those buying into his story.