Review: Rick Ross, ‘Richer Than I Ever Been’

The seasoned Miami rapper’s eleventh album provides no showstoppers, opting for a mild experience stripped of his usual grandeur.

When it comes to rappers of the 2010s, Rick Ross is a name that remains undervalued. “Over a decade and never nobody’s favourite,” he said on his guest verse on Meek Mill’s 2018 track “What’s Free”, a sentiment that adds up given his competition. But for a rapper with his own sound, successful record label and multiple JAY-Z collaborations, Rick Ross has always deserved more props. The latest task at hand is continuing to show the world why his name should be in more conversations, especially after the largely forgettable Port of Miami 2, released back in 2019.

Richer Than I Ever Been does not capture the heights of Rick Ross’s best work, serving as his most timid effort to date.

Photography: Alessandro Martino

The album opens up well with “Little Havana”, featuring The-Dream and an intro from Cuban drug kingpin Willie Falcon. It sets the tone without asserting dominance, carrying some insightful lines during Ross’s verse during the process (“Problem was I never was a prodigy / Possibly my biggest flaw is lack of modesty”). “Rapper Estates” with Benny the Butcher is the album’s high point, coming together through its Boi-1da beat and verses from the two rappers, the standout line being “I know you wanna take it, so that’s why I wear it” when Benny is talking about his chain.

But soon after the album is met with a rocky midpoint. “Wiggle” with DreamDoll may be the worst Rick Ross song ever. Trying its best to be the record’s strip club anthem, it is a laughable inclusion to an album that otherwise does well to make the short tracklist worthwhile. “Can’t Be Broke” feels like an anomaly that tailors to the style of its features rather than staying true to Ross.

With twelve tracks in play, Richer Than I Ever Been tries to ensure every song is worth your time, just like 2010’s Teflon Don. But eleven years later, Rick Ross is much removed from his prime, and is unable to pull off the same curation. Unlike many of his albums, Richer Than I Ever Been opts for a subdued sound, taking his signature trap cuts out of the picture, making it harder for there to be standout songs – an aspect the album lacks the most.

Rozay has always proven his knack for beat-picking. Consistently his best attribute across his career, it is usually the saving grace for even his worst albums. Yet the production tends to fall flat on Richer Than I Ever Been. It is much more subdued than usual, which lets down songs where Ross has little to offer on his own end (“Marathon”, “The Pultizer”, “Can’t Be Broke”).

The final four-tracks provides the best run; “Outlawz” is the closest Richer Than I Ever Been gets to a standout track; “Imperial High” delivers ballroom beams; and closer “Hella Smoke” finishes as a highlight rather than a mere outro.

Even with its efficient end, Richer Than I Ever Been yearns for more. The energy is lacking, from Rick Ross down to the production. For a rapper that loves to brag, Rozay is awfully shy on this one.

5 / 10

Best tracks: “Rapper Estates”, “Outlawz”, “Hella Smoke”