I often call Rick Ross a modern-day superhero and while a bit dramatic, there’s some merit to it. He’s charismatic, rich, innovative in business, and consistent. It’s safe to say many of us love Ross.
With love, comes a deeper investment in the things people do. The more you look, the more you see. Having been a fan of Rozay ever since “Hustlin” dropped, I’ve witnessed a lot. And I have some questions and/or theories about his recent offering Port of Miami 2.
Port of Miami 2 by Rick Ross
" Port of Miami was the foundation I built the empire on," Rick Ross tells Apple Music. "We've accomplished so much…
Lately, whether because fans were yearning for new music or because he comes up so often on podcasts, there’s been a lot of praise for Ross. His discography is amazing, front to back. His mixtapes have been great. His eye for talent and ear for production are elite. He should and will go down as an all-time great. For some, they feel he should be higher up, as far as being amongst the GOATs. I’ve written about it in the past actually.
I believe this album will be influential in pushing the conversation moving forward. Ross is not one-dimensional in sound, but his strength is making songs sound luxurious through his descriptiveness and smooth voice. In terms of “wealthy rap” Ross is an easy Top 5 candidate. I also throw BIG and Hov on that list but that’s another topic.
All of this in mind, it was a bit confusing the first single was a heavy trap record in “Act A Fool” featuring Wale. Not that Ross and Folarin don’t do well on trap beats, but their true specialty to me is that aura-type music. You all know I never take issue with an artist evolving or doing different things. With that, I committed to following the direction Ross took us. Again, he’s done trap before. Some of his biggest songs are trap influenced.
“BIG TYME” with Swizz felt a little more “true to form,” with the "celebratory championship champagne shower” feel to it. “Gold Roses” was everything we could want in a Renzel record. The kicker was, that was also the song blessed with a Drake feature.
We hadn’t seen Aubs appear on a Rick Ross album in quite some time, and “Money In The Grave” was a nice collab but not their best compared to a “Lord Knows” or “Aston Martin Music.” People wanted exactly what “Gold Roses” gave. A two-minute opening Drizzy verse laced with slick wordplay and then two airy Ross verses? You can’t top it.
Then we get the tracklist and see that “Act A Fool” was the intro and “Gold Roses” would end the album. Huh? To me, the best part of an album is knowing that I haven’t heard what will open it and what will close it. The experience just feels different otherwise. Almost underwhelming. The beauty is in the mystery.
Ross’ fourth single “Turnpike Ike” dropped and at that point, we’d nearly heard a third of the album. Not to fear though. It’s the biggest boss and face of Wingstop. There’s always more. After all, he also had the late Nipsey Hussle, Meek Mill, Summer Walker, Teyana Taylor, A Boogie wit da Hoodie, Jeezy, Denzel Curry, Dej Loaf, Gunplay, YFN Lucci and Ball Greezy listed on the album.
Not to mention, some interesting periods following “Maybach Music VI”. We previously heard through interviews that Ross put Lil Wayne and Pusha T on there without telling each other. The hope was to mend things, and he felt his relationship with both sides could facilitate that.
I really like the album. The production by J.U.S.T.I.C.E League, Sam Sneak, and others involved felt so well into the Ross formula as always. Things didn’t start too hot given I knew the first two songs already. I’m still not huge on “Act A Fool.” Admittedly, it sounded way better among hundreds of people at his listening party. In my headphones, eh.
The third track “Nobody’s Favorite” boomed through them. I love the pocket Ross is in, and Gunplay went off on his verse. The midtempo trap banger was a playful reflection on how neither of them makes anyone’s lists, but they’re rich and successful so what does it really matter?
The run from track three onward is beautiful. Summer Walker killed her hook on “Summer Reign,” and I honestly thought this song with the SWV “Rain” sample would have been a better choice for a single than what he put out. People generally love when the bearded legend gets in his “love rap” lane. Summer could have been given some more time to cook as well, but this is quality nonetheless.
There’s an awkward clash between Ross and Dej on “White Lines” when she says her “egyptian girl” line. The mix could have been a bit better there. Otherwise, it’s a song for the car. Windows down, perhaps a blunt if you’re feeling adventurous.
Though before I said I wanted more Summer, I do like that many of these songs have third verses and a majority are done by Ross. If someone else takes a verse, he might do two on the bookends. It does make for longer songs and fights against the average attention span. However, I’m never mad at a rapper taking the necessary time to say what he has to say when he sounds like Ross.
Meek has been on a tear with the features since “Drip” with Tory Lanez. He sounds just as clear-headed and sharply focused now as he did on Championships. There shouldn’t be any question about his mettle as a lyricist. “Bogus Charms” is a triggering track for many, but I love how Ross and Meek continue to bring the best out of each other.
Having lost Nip not too long ago, it’s always great to hear him. His posthumous verses just hit so differently. I cling to every word and suggestion in “Rich N*gga Lifestyle” because I was already a “late fan” and now I don’t know how many more verses we’ll get. Thanks to DJ Khaled, Mustard and Ross for providing us these opportunities to hear his voice.
Teyana was a close personal friend as well, so having her on the record felt appropriate. The “Sweet” sample was well executed. Everyone involved was or are lavish livers with hood ties and have continually elevated while reminding us of their humble beginnings. Balance.
Ross is always good for tracks like “Fascinated” and “Vegas Residency.” He levitates over beats like these with ease. It might have made more sense for one of these to open the album, but regardless this is his niche. I was especially impressed by A Boogie and Denzel Curry’s contributions. Ross can honestly work with anyone, but to hear the fluidity of him and Boogie was special.
“Maybach Music VI” turned out to be just Weezy and John Legend. Aptly named, John delivered another stunning hook and Wayne sounded pretty great for many people saying he’s washed up and should hang it up. During the press run the day of release, Ross spoke on how he felt this record wasn’t actually the best time to try and mend the Young Money-G.O.O.D relationship, or lack thereof.
Many speculate that Drake and Weezy F were involved in the decision making to leave Push off, and lord knows if we’ll ever know the truth. The verse leaked anyways, and it was heavy with the subs. Push calls his opponents clowns, scoffs at their popularity, and says their Miami rental cars are sleeping in his garage. Pressure.
What I do know for sure is the album ended a lot better than it started. Ross explained that he released the first single and sequenced the album the way he did to get a certain vibe out the way so he could get into the passionate raps. It’s not so unusual either. Teflon Don opened with “I’m Not a Star” and took things in a very different direction the next six songs. “Act A Fool” is objectively the worst song to me, and I genuinely enjoy everything else afterwards. I can somewhat see where he was going with the arrangement, but “Fascinated” or “Vegas Residency” would’ve made more sense to me.
The Drake record closing it also kind of makes sense. It was clearly the favorite of the four singles, and almost like a comfortable victory lap after the 11 new songs we’d heard. It wraps up the album well, and surely would have been more impactful had we not heard it already. Many people are running with popular take that Ross shouldn’t release singles. I respect it though I don’t fully agree.
I think if Ross wants to, or he and his label agree to, then go for it. I understand the strategy. Singles are promotion and guarantee certain numbers are hit. Does he need to? Definitely not.
The album overall was really good. Some high highs and no real lows for me. Listening to it and thinking of everyone’s theories did lead me to a big question.
We learned the day after Championships released, from Mal of the Joe Budden Podcast, that “What’s Free” was originally a Rick Ross record but he gave it to Meek. It wasn’t clear whether or not JAY-Z was on the Ross version or if it was meant for POM2, but would it have helped this album?
Some people think the Push verse alone would have taken attention away from everything else on the album. Would Hov had made it even worse? I don’t think so. Hov easily had the best verse on Championships and yet the huge wave of attention that verse received died out after a few weeks. The album itself still got and currently receives the love it deserves.
“What’s Free” would have fit well and added a nice educational element to POM2. Ross reflects a lot on his business endeavors, and his interviews are always laced with gems. It’s impressive when these types of lessons can be reflected in the music.
Despite a questionable rollout, confusion surrounding “Maybach Music VI” and some odd sequencing, I am happy with this project. Nowadays, expectations and a lack of numbers lead to people quickly dismissing you. Ross has the luxury of a proven track record of success on the radio, and a consistent catalog of music.
The tides are high for the Miami boss. Given how fast we move past new music, they may sink again. Fortunately, when you’re the boss and in control of your destiny, you stay put. No matter where the waves try to take you. Port of Miami 2, flaws and all, is a punctuated reminder of his place in the game. No matter what happens, he stands firmly. We’ll see where the talk goes next in the coming weeks.
Personal favorite quotables:
“Gil Green, the way I capture the moment with words”
“50 stacks a pocket really just for amateurs”
“Police can smell the marijuana/but they respectin’ my persona”
“Premonitions of my death is what I wanna miss/Pretty pictures of my kids the only ones I kiss/When you get a second chance, young brother, what a gift/New obituaries everywhere I look/Praying every hour God keep me on His books/Cemeteries, we pull up on ’em in foreign cars/
Extended payments elated, now met with open arms”