By Kat Bein
By Laurie Charles
By Shea Serrano
By Jeff Weinberger
By Kat Bein
By Shea Serrano
By S. Pajot
By Terrence McCoy
We all know the beef between Rick Ross and 50 Cent is bullshit. Both rappers record for Universal Music Group labels, and both are promoting albums. 50's Before I Self Destruct is slotted for June, and Ross's latest, Deeper than Rap, came out in late April. With any justice, that work will cement Ross's legacy as a flash in the pan with a poor flow and no imagination, but let's focus on the beef for a moment.
For all of its vitriol, the two men's modern-day rap battle was never going to turn violent. After all, Ross associate Fat Joe has already explained how these things work, admitting his own dispute with 50 in recent years was simply to help the pair "get bigger sales" and should be taken only as "entertainment."
Well, the Ross/Fiddy rivalry certainly is entertaining. Buying Ross's baby mama a fur coat was pretty good, and 50 has had even more success playing on revelations that Ross served as a county corrections officer during the 1990s. A series of cartoons on Thisis50.com have morphed Ross from a C.O. into "Officer Ricky;" in one, he dances an Israeli jig with a Liza Minnelli wig-clad DJ Khaled.
Sure, 50 has sometimes gone over the line — such as when he released footage of Khaled's mother asleep at work. But the Officer Ricky series is hilarious, mainly because Ross is such a deserving target. There's nothing wrong with serving on the right side of the law, of course, but Ross's pathological lying has grown increasingly sinister. Initially, when photos of him in his C.O. uniform surfaced last year, he claimed they were Photoshopped. He's since retracted that statement, but now insists, "the truth is more sinister than the obvious," implying he helped further criminal interests from the inside. Nobody believes him, and why should they? This is a man who has claimed on his albums to know "the real Noriega" and to have "made a couple million dollars last year dealing weight."
To be fair, it took guts for Ross to initiate this beef, which he did on his song "Mafia Music," where he highlighted the mysterious burning of 50's baby mama's Long Island house last year. But since then, his efforts have grown increasingly ridiculous. In one of his dis videos, Ross has a conversation with a cake that has been baked in his likeness. He proceeds to break off its head, stick his finger down the neck cavity, and tell the cake he loves it. He then predicts Deeper than Rap will sell millions, which will surely prove inaccurate. It debuted at No. 1 upon release, but it sold less than 200,000 copies in its first week. In fact, though Ross routinely boasts of his sales supremacy, he has sold only a fraction of the albums 50 has. The combined initial-week sales of Ross's three albums is less than 600,000. Meanwhile, 50 Cent's 2007 effort, Curtis — which was seen as a commercial failure — moved about 700,000 in its first week.
The fact is, when Ross isn't lying, he really doesn't have much to say. And so it goes on Deeper than Rap, which despite being stacked with lush throwback beats from J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League, the Runners, and others, still comes off as empty and hollow. It was obviously going to be full of mealy-mouthed, verifiably false boasts about his material wealth, sexual conquests, and success in the drug trade, but one would think he'd understand his own limitations.
Instead, on "Usual Suspects," he squares off against a superior rapper, Nas, on a track that moves too quickly for him to make any sense. (It's about the equivalent of Ross challenging Michael Johnson in the 400-meter dash.) On "Magnificent," meanwhile, he explains he wears "red all the time/But really I'm colorblind/Wanna catch my attention?/Nigga, throw up a dollar sign." That also doesn't make complete sense — how does one "throw up" a dollar sign? Elsewhere, his rhymes are simply disgusting, such as on "Face," where he says, "Selling dope/Counting money/Keep my dick hard/Time to bust it wide open for a big boy."
Random question: Did you know Ross has a tattoo of George W. Bush in devil horns under his right arm? As he explained in an interview last year: "Tupac told us a long time ago, 'You gotta keep your enemies close.'" Weird! He then noted he has the word billionaire tattooed above his right nipple and five mikes around his neck. Well, he's not a billionaire, and he has never received a five-mike rating from the Source. These tattoos are simply part of his façade, both literal and figurative, presenting his cynical lies to anyone gullible enough to believe them.