Mastermind may be Rick Ross’ most honest work to date. For a guy who has been crucified for his past, specifically, though not limited to, being outed as a C.O. Ross has managed to find his footing on hip-hop and nudge his way next to the greats. His albums are chock-full of bombast, hard-charging beats and his flourishing fleet of Maybach artists.
This album, however, sounds as if he did it for himself more than anything. Finally freed from his dizzy rise to the top, Rozay relaxes and delivers songs full of breadth and complexity. Let’s take a look at some of those lines and the 15 most quotable verses from Rick Ross’ Mastermind.—Majid Tejan-Jalloh
“Rich Is Gangsta” (Verse 2)
“Chasing me a hundred million, that’s inshallah/
Fresh up out the Feds system, welcome home Jabar/
I watch em pray 5 times a day, nigga/
Same one that used to move the yay, nigga”
From the first track it feels like Ross has something to prove. This line features Ross speaking on how he watched a close friend released from jail, now a converted devout Muslim. It amazes him that the same man who he saw partake in street activities has come home a changed man.
“Rich Is Gangsta” (Verse 3)
“Feds tore apart the squad, nigga/
That’s why I had to play my part, nigga/
That wasn’t me that was a job, nigga”
Ross addresses his biggest criticism in an emphatic way. Ask any Rick Ross detractor why they don’t like him and they will tell you it’s because of his failure to acknowledge his past as a correctional officer with photographic proof out in the public. Here, he addresses the situation head on, saying that he was playing his part in a grand scheme that was far more sinister than we could ever imagine.
“Drug Dealer’s Dream” (Verse 3)
“I seen a rich nigga go to jail/
He put WiFi in his cell/
Middle of the night, my nigga want to Skype/
I just count money for ’em, that shit just get him hype”
This line makes us think of the mobsters from movies like Goodfellas who ate 5-star meals in prison. Anybody who hears this line will see an image in their head. Too vivid, and, at the very least, very entertaining.
“Nobody” (Verse 2)
“And I’m never on that tour bus/
Just a decoy for niggas, the PJs for two of us”
Ross speaks on the well-publicized attempt on his life on the update to Notorious B.I.G’s classic and this line just sums it up. Ross gives us a picture of how he’s been living ever since the shooting stating that the tour bus that rides through cities while he’s on tour is just a diversion for his enemies.
“Devil Is A Lie” (Verse 3)
“Devil want these niggas hate they own kind/
Gotta be Illuminati if a nigga shine”
Jay Z gives us his perspective on the Illuminati conspiracy and how he thinks the real Devil is the idea that African Americans have shunned him and his peers because of his perceived lack of social responsibility. His whole view in two bars.
“Mafia Music III” (Verse 3)
“Get some money now, you hated by your own kind/
The home invasion done by niggas in your bloodline”
In Ross’ career he’s always been about stunting, but Mastermind watches him touch on the downside of the game as well. This bar may be personal, as it’s documented that a friend of Ross lost his life during a break-in of one of Ross’ homes.
“What A Shame” (Verse 3)
“Assassinate a name, nigga spraying in the dark/
Hate you with a passion, but he asking for a job/
Shame on a nigga who tried to run game on a nigga”
Having to deal with enemies is a prevalent theme throughout Mastermind. Ross approaches this bar with his Boss persona. He’s the man who rules the block, or whatever line of work he’s referring to, dealing with people who hate him, but play friendly because they are seeking an opportunity.
“Anytime me and Scott Storch get together you gotta call us the Illuminati/
Whenever you see the G it represents God and geometry/
That’s what the stencil’s for/
Imma tell you never be with them/
Nah, I’m just fucking with you (laughs)”
The Illuminati conspiracy is back, but now Ross is playing with it. Breaking it down knowing people feed into it before retracting.
“BLK & WHT” (Verse 3)
“Instagramming shit for all the teachers I despised/
Never saw my vision, you only saw me suspended”
The spiteful Ross that we remember from tracks like “Holy Ghost” makes an appearance directing this flex towards the ones who figured that he’d be a failure.
“Walkin’ On Air” (Verse 3)
“All I ever wanted was to make scrilla/
Have a recording session with J Dilla”
As someone who has listened to Rick Ross from the beginning and watched his career unfold, I can vouch for this line as being his ultimate truth. Throughout everything that he’s been through in his career two things have remained consistent, Ross’ love of luxury and making great records. He came in “Hustlin”‘ and that record changed the sound of rap to screwed hooks and made The Runners go-to producers, then he dropped “BMF” and did it again with Lex Luger’s trap sound becoming the new staple. Throughout everything he’s always glorified the power of the dollar. The reason 50 Cent didn’t wipe him off of the planet is because Ross was putting out banger after banger during their feud. Ross has always been about the money and music and I don’t think that will ever change.
“Thug Cry” (Verse 1)
“Go against the odds, young’n go and get a job/
Another country boy they want back on the farm”
Rick Ross has always been boastful about being one of the few of his melanin to make it out of the streets and into the back of Maybachs. This line watches him encourage the ones coming up after him to seek opportunities as well even if the cards are stacked against them.
“Thug Cry” (Verse 2)
“To make a long story short, I need a shoulder/
Cause the devil on one, the other one I’m looking over”
In one of Wayne’s most acclaimed verses in recent times he delivers a memorable line in witty fashion as only he knows how to do.
“Blessing In Disguise” (Verse 1)
“I’ve been knowing Ross since he was Teflon/
Same nigga now as back then, nothing stepped on”
A Scarface co-sign may be as good as it gets and Ross gets the treatment here. It’s as if Scarface was speaking directly to those who questions Ross’ credibility amongst his peers. If a random fan doesn’t respect Ross I think he’s okay with that after this line. This was an all around great verse.
“Paradise Lost” (Verse 2)
“We the ones that never got the Pell Grants/
Fuck Full Sail, let your mail stack”
Ross’ last quotable from Mastermind is another one where he’s stating that he’s self-made. Full Sail University is one of the top colleges for aspiring musicians and it’s conveniently located in Florida, but Ross represents those who weren’t in position to take on the expensive school fees. Who knew he was this knowledgeable about the school system.
Verdict: All in all Mastermind may be Rick Ross’ deepest album. Of course, it’s laden with the usual gunfights and illusions of grandeur, but if you scratch beyond the surface you get a better understanding for the man behind the shades. And beard.