Rick Ross says his upcoming album, Richer Than I Ever Been
, is his most personal project to date. Given the high-end bars, fresh collaborations, and the unique process he followed in order to create his 11th LP, New Times
is inclined to believe him.
As the calamity of Miami Art Week dominoed its way across the city, the top-tier rapper, entrepreneur, and author assembled an elite group of key players from Miami's music and media industries on Friday, December 3, for an intimate event to showcase the album for the first time. When his guests walked into Mezcalista at the Moxy South Beach Hotel, the lights were dimmed to allow candles to illuminate the space. Maybach Music Group's DJ Sam Sneak provided the vibes as rum cocktails and snacks were passed around.
Once he made his grand entrance, Ross and moderator DJ Akademiks began the listening session while standing in front of a life-size image of the album cover shot by famed photographer Jonathan Mannion.
Sneak kicked things off with the album’s intro track “Little Havana,”
which features an intro from notorious Miami cocaine kingpin Willie Falcon
and additional vocals from The-Dream. Rozay swears he does not know the whereabouts of Falcon, who was released from prison in 2017, but he feels blessed to have received the erstswhile Cocaine Cowboy’s blessing on the album. One of Falcon’s daughters was in the room for the listening session.
Featured artists like Dreamdoll joined Rick Ross in front of the crowd.
Photo by 20K Visuals
"It's most definitely a gift," Ross tells New Times
about Falcon's contribution. "I've been speaking his name for the past 15 years of my raps and my songs. While he was incarcerated, every time he would run across new inmates from different places, they would recite his name. When I spoke with him, [Falcon] let me know how important that was to him and how much it meant to him. The love was genuine, and so here we are. He did the intro to my album. It only made sense."
The event drew out special guests like Timbaland, Steve Stoute, and Busta Rhymes. Featured artists like Major Nine and Dreamdoll joined Ross in front of the crowd as they spoke about their contributions to the record. Other Miami legends were also in attendance, including DJ Khaled, Gunplay, Poe Boy Music Group founder E-Class, and Ball Greezy.
Day-one fans already know to expect plenty of influence from the rapper's hometown. But Richer Than I Ever Been
is not your average Rick Ross album. The 12-track LP features the first single "Outlawz,"
featuring Jazmine Sullivan and 21 Savage and brand-new collaborations with Wale, Future, and Wiz Khalifa.
The major difference is his other collaborations with newer acts like Florida's Major Nine and Yungeen Ace, New York rappers Benny the Butcher and Dreamdoll, and L.A. artist Blxst. Each collaboration allows Ross to flaunt his lyrical power alongside artists he hadn't worked with before.
In "Rapper Estates," the listener hears Rozay trading gritty verses with Griselda rapper Benny the Butcher over an instrumental that will pass any car test. Miami rapper and producer Major Nine and Jacksonville's Yungeen Ace flex their melodic chemistry with the bawse on "Can't Be Broke." He also puts Dreamdoll on a pedestal in their joint "Wiggle," which will undoubtedly infiltrate the club scene in no time. It'll be fascinating to experience the rare direction Ross takes on the album.
The album cover for Richer Than I Ever Been.
Photo courtesy of Epic Records
"I made this album even more personal," Ross says. "I leaned less on my peers and counterparts and leaned more on just my raps, my bars, and my hooks. Of course, I've been recording for the last two years, so I may have accumulated more records than I ever have. These are the records that I chose for Richer Than I Ever Been
The album comes a few months after he dropped his new book, The Perfect Day to Boss Up
, and two years after his last album, Port of Miami 2
. While Richer Than I Ever Been
and Port of Miami 2
are dynamically different, one thing remains the same: Ross is still dedicated to giving his fans the most prestigious rhymes hip-hop has to offer. The Maybach Music Group founder understands what’s expected of him, and he’s more than obliged to serve as a pioneer of luxury rap.
"It's most definitely a compliment because it's certain pictures that I paint where I need it to be luxury," Ross says. "When I got in my mom's car and rode from Carol City over the bridge to South Beach, that's what I seen, and it's what I fantasized about and most definitely inspired me. So that's cool with me."
Richer Than I Ever Been drops Friday, December 10, via Epic Records.