We take a look at the Wingstop sauce boss himself, Rick Ross.
Meek Mill‘s 4th studio album Championships dropped at midnight on November 30th to an overwhelmingly positive reception, especially due to one track in particular. “What’s Free” a flip of Notorious B.I.G’s classic “What’s Beef” was all the talk after a banner performance by JAY-Z and another elegant verse from Rick Ross. It was a moment for Meek to have the Marcy legend on his album, especially after all the effort Hov put in to assist the Philly rapper in getting out of jail. And even though Ross is getting some headlines for his commentary on Tekashi 6ix9ine‘s current legal woes, the clear difference in discussion of his verse compared to Hov’s is symbolic of Ross’ perception his entire career.
Don’t get us wrong, Jay’s verse is an easy call for verse of the year. Where some of our elder rappers may pop up on a posse cut and it’s celebrated for them expressing that level of respect for a younger artist, Hov stole the show with an incredible verse. Not only from Meek, but Ross. Looking at a tracklist and seeing their three names, one may assume Meek would start the track off but they opted to have Ross do so. It was also reported on the Joe Budden podcast that the song was initially intended for Rozay to put out, meaning he likely had his verse done before allowing Meek to have it and calling in Hov.
Though we are not saying his verse is superior to JAY-Z’s, the gap isn’t too far off. Hov’s overall being and the clout that comes with him typically amplifies the impact of his insightful lyricism, and Ross hasn’t been able to reach Hov’s status despite also having an overall great discography, innovative business moves, and the overall O.G. disposition. His verse addresses his view of how he’s been putting out heat for over 10 years but he’s never been anyone’s favorite. From 2006 to now he’s created anthems and made us all feel like a boss, but always remained a few pegs from the upper echelon. Part of the issue here, we feel, is the commercial success.
The Wingstop aficionado and owner of multiple franchises has 9 studio albums to his record, but only four have received gold or platinum recognition. He’s also been a part of 13 songs total that have received those some qualifications. Surely commercial success is not entirely indicative of the quality of music and Ross has delivered solid bodies of work with each album. His content has continually matured and his ability to create an aura of wealth in his music is unparalleled. However, when you’re competing with the greats it’s a necessary quality to try and be on par. But there are other measurements, such as impact.
Ross has provided commentary on relevant topics when it comes to music, popular culture and the world at large, but not in the capacity of a Tupac or Kendrick Lamar. Of course, rappers aren’t required in any way to use their craft to push political messages or inspire change but the ability to do so speaks to your reach and versatility. Does this mean Ross is one-dimensional, though? Absolutely not.
The former correctional officer has traded bars with the likes of Nas, Drake, and Jeezy while also standing alongside R&B greats like John Legend, The Weeknd, T-Pain and Ty Dolla $ign. Rick Ross is not the type of artist to just give one kind of sound, and his flexibility as an artist doesn’t get enough recognition. The thing about the greats is that either they or someone in their circles have touted them as the greatest, and the same can’t be said for Ross.
Consistent as he has been, he’s never gone out of his way to really proclaim where he sees himself in music. There’s power in telling people you’re the greatest and then following up to prove it. That level of confidence and the product to prove it speaks volumes and sets artists apart from those whose exceptional performances come off as more happenstance. Not that we don’t believe Ross is aware of his talent level, but there’s just that edge missing.
Competition is what keeps rap moving. The rise of Drake, J. Cole and K Dot was amazing to witness. Young, creative talent who connected with fans and willingly worked together. As time went on and they got larger, people began to compare them and eventually their collaborations came few and far between. Now they’re big stars and their place in music is indelible. Ross’ beefs were with 50 Cent and Jeezy, arguably both at tail ends of their prime. The beefs lead to some shots in Ross’ music, but never put his back against the wall in the way where he needed to come with some groundbreaking music to maintain his positioning in rap.
The correctional officer revelation and the pettiness with his baby mother, not to mention her tell-all book, certainly hurt his reputation a bit but not enough to where Ross’ music lost any of its appeal. It’s difficult to identify what, aside from commercial appeal, may hold the boss from being considered in the GOAT conversation. The ability to put together a good album, elevate songs with features, and discover new talent is there. Something is missing though, and it’s unfortunate because Ross really hasn’t gone wrong of his own volition. Perhaps the conversation will change with time. *Rick Ross grunt*