Rick Ross – God Forgives, I Don’t [Review]

A lot of things has changed for Rick Ross since his debut album in 2006. While he came in the rap game saying he was the boss, in 2012 he is arguably the hottest rapper in the game even now backed by a viable team (Maybach Music Group replaced Triple C’s). Each of his 4 previous albums has seen growth in sound as well as lyrics but does the 5th album, God Forgives, I Don’t, keep the Ross on this path? While it has already been deemed a classic by some (What’s up Khaled & Drizzy?) let’s take a look for ourselves at Rozay’s latest.

1. Pray For Us
Yes, this is a clip from the movie Baby Boy. Specifically it’s the prayer said by Sweetpea (Played by Omar Gooding) right before he & Jody (Tyrese) go kill Rodney (Snoop Dogg). I was unsure if this was the appropriate intro for this album, but it does have the signature Maybach Music drop in the beginning as well as the trademark Rick Ross grunt at the end, so I guess it fits. Let’s start the album…

2. Pirates
Produced by Kenoe & Got Koke
This song feels like it was made specifically to lead off the album. With an ominous production backing him up, Ross really shows his talents here. I know there’s always a little debate on how good Rozay actually is behind the mic but this song is a prime example of his wordplay:

Fascination with fortune afford me mansion and Porsches
Panamera abortions, marijuana imported
Dreams of getting cream and never to be extorted
Seen so many things, be preposterous not to record it
Product is in demand, profit not far behind
Got on my mother pearl, she fucking up father time

3. 3 Kings
Featuring Dr. Dre & Jay-Z; Produced by Jake One
First off, you have to give Rick Ross props just on the fact that he has a song that features verses from both Dr. Dre & Jay-Z. Second, you have to give props to Ross again because he obviously wrote Dr. Dre’s verse (Something that’s been done by rappers like Eminem, Jay-Z, & Ice Cube). And lastly, you gotta give props because this could have easily been one of the songs where it looks good on paper but fails short of the billing. The song is dope and all the things you expect happen like Dre talking about his headphones, Rozay being Rozay (“Come a suck a dick for a millionaire”), & Jay-Z talking about his daughter & looking for a bigger Live Nation deal (I still think his verse is crazy). This is boss shit. Also, shout out to Jake One; he’s come a long way since White Van Music; Congrats.

4. Ashamed
Produced by Cool & Dre
Here Ross chronicles the struggle of his early hustling days and his evolution to being “worth over a billion”. He uses a different cadence here from the previous tracks on the album but it fits the production. The soulful beat by Cool & Dre is built around a sample of Wilson Pickett’s “Shameless” and it’s a good change of pace. Songs like these are strictly album cuts but they help flesh out an album (No matter how much you believe the story).

5. Maybach Music IV
Featuring Ne-Yo; Produced by J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League
While this may be the 4th iteration of “Maybach Music”, this is the first time Rick Ross and has had one with no guest features. Maybe he’s saying that’s he’s at the level where he doesn’t need any features (Now that I think about it, with a little tinkering “3 Kings” could have been “Maybach Music IV”). One thing that does reappear is the epic sounding production and heavy instrumentation that has been a staple in this series (Once again provided by J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League). While Ross does his thing (“I’m alive, you could never write the South off/South paw, box a nigga off like a outlaw”), he sorta takes a step back and lets the beat do most of the work which makes sense because he’s going for that whole luxury feeling here. L.A. Reid even says a few words at the end (“It takes a boss to know a boss”). Ross also lets us know there’s “no finales here”; I’m pretty sure we can expect a “Mayback Music V” in the future.

6. Sixteen
Featuring André 3000; Produced by J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League
Good sequencing here as the previous songs flows seamlessly into “Sixteen” (Which may be because both tracks are produced by J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League). But let’s take a step back here: We have Rick Ross AND Andre 3000 on the same track; something I never thought I’d see but here we are. That being said, Andre get more shine here as he does the chorus, breakdowns, as well as a long ass verse (Not to mention the drunk guitar playing at the end). It actually feels like it could be 3 Stacks’ song with Ross featured. The song deals with squeezing what you have to say in a 16 bar sequence (I’m sure both rapper went over that though). I’m still trying to figure out how I feel about this one. Ross is Ross and Andre doesn’t do bad but his verse isn’t anywhere near mind blowing which is something we’ve come to expect from him. Either way, Ross can check “Doing a song with Andre 3000” off his bucket list.

7. Amsterdam
Produced by Cardiak
I thought with a name like “Amsterdam” that this would be a weed song. Thankfully it wasn’t. The meaning is actually kinda creative: Ross says he’s mobbed up so to kill him you have to get a “green light” or permission. But since he’s untouchable it’s “the red light district” wherever he is (Of course Rozay mentions weed but still). All besides the hook, I thought the song was persistent it was it was trying to do (I’ll overlook the “Berry Gordy to the streets”line. Really Ross?). A pretty dope sample use by Cardiak too (Cortex’s “Prelude A Go Round”).

8. Hold Me Back
Produced by G5Kid
When first hearing this song, it could be taken as lazy for the repeating chorus or almost recreating the hook from his crew’s song “Actin’ Up”. But it terms of songs that get you hype, this does the job. If Ross wanted something to be easily repeated and accessible, he also did that job too. Play this right after any achievement, no matter how small, and you immediately start singing the chorus. Example: While in the car, you just make it past a red light before it changes;  “THESE NIGGAS WON’T HOLD ME BACK”). Rozay is in full “B.M.F.” mode here.

9. 911
Produced by Young Shun
Remember on Teflon Don when Rick Ross put the similar sounding “B.M.F. (Blowin’ Money Fast)” & “MC Hammer” right next to each other on the tracklist. He does the same here with “Hold Me Back” & “911”. It may be because of this sequencing that this is my least favorite song off God Forgives, I Don’t. The fun stuff is there like Ross talking about buying a big & tall clothing store and picking watermelons, but the whole thing comes off as poorer versions of his previously songs of this nature (Some would say all his songs are like this but still…).

10. So Sophisticated
Featuring Meek Mill; Produced by The Beat Bully
This was the second single off God Forgives, I Don’t and I kinda wondered why (Even for a street single). Compared to what Meek Mill & Rozay has done together in the past, this feels like a paint by numbers affair. Obviously it didn’t make the splash it was intended for a reason. Still, if this was for a drug rapper on a lower level, this probably would be just fine. But for Rozay, this is a step down. Also, “We know you pussies, so you got my niggas masturbating” is one of the most pause worthy lines ever.

11. Presidential
Featuring Elijah Blake; Produced by Pharrell Williams
There is a video that came out before this album did that had Pharrell previewing this track for Odd Future. He seemed pretty proud as he should because it’s pretty dope. First it must be pointed out that Elijah Burke killed the hook. That matched with the production gives the song a comfortable lavish feel. Nice. Sidenote: In my head, the girl here saying “Get money” is the same one who said “Money make me cum”; I can only hope so.

12. Ice Cold
Featuring Omarion; Produced by Reefa
You know what would have been awkward? If Ross would have put Maybach O Omarion on “Maybach Music IV” instead of this song. I know Ross believes in Omarion but as of right now I don’t see him seamlessly fitting into MMG. As for “Ice Cold”, from the beat to the hook it feels like it should be Omarion’s song with a verse from Rozay kinda like what they did with “Let’s Talk”. Ross’ verse could be seen as mailed in too but it’s enough to get by. Average but good for an album track.

13. Touch’N You
Featuring Usher; Produced by Rico Love & Pierre Medor
Whoa. I had no idea that the album version of “Touch’N You” was actually “Fuck’N You” (There is no way I can’t get this confused with “Lemme See It” now). Now that I know this I can guarantee this is being played in fine strip clubs all across the country. I also noticed that all the song for the women folk on this album have been grouped together. As for “Touch’N You” “Fuck’N You”, I never thought it was worthy of being the first single, but I’ll admit that it has grown on me a bit.

14. Diced Pineapples
Featuring Wale & Drake; Produced by Cardiak
Only Rick Ross would have a song titled “Diced Pineapples”. Ross explained the meaning behind the title to MTV:

When I got out of the hospital — you know, I had a seizure last year — when I was leaving, the doctor told me, ‘You gotta eat some more fruit, drink you some water, eat fruit and just relax for a little while.’ My fruit of choice was pineapples. For the next three weeks, I woke up every morning and ate diced pineapples, and I put the concept together. Drizzy came in, as well as Wale, and it’s kinda like, ‘She could be my diced pineapple. This special lady, she could be what I wake up to every morning and help me get by every day.

Okay. Thankfully Drake, who shows up as R&B Drizzy and only does the hook, doesn’t mention the words diced pineapples on the chorus. Wale & Ross handle the verse but the beat by Cardiak makes this track the one the ladies will like the most. It’s well done but for my taste I’d it switch it out with “Stay Schemin'”.

15. Ten Jesus Pieces
Featuring Stalley; Produced by J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League
I like it when the last song on an album feels that way. The production here feels like Ross’ last speech right before the credits roll:

I wake up excited, I made it through the night
Things I did in the dark, will it ever see the light?
My nerves should be a wreck, I got a bad chick
She keeps me erect, she loves my ad-libs
I think I’m a genius, hundred grand a fucking feature
I do at least three a week, roll up the fucking reefer

Stalley probably gives his most MMG like verse on this song too (“Big did it the best”). “Ten Jesus Pieces” is a good closer because it conveys the lifestyle that Ross and been rapping about the entire album. Extra points because Ross is probably wearing 10 Jesus pieces on the album cover.

If you let the song play for a few seconds after, you’ll hear a conversation in spanish. I looked up the translation but the jist of it talks about doing dirt in Columbia, being rich forever, and “Dios perdona, yo no” (“God forgives, i don’t”).

Bottom Line:
Like with Ross’ previous efforts, he has chosen to make his music not only accessible but centamatic. On his 5th album God Forgives, I Don’t, Ross continues and achieves to make his movies (albums) bigger with each release. No matter how excessive or laughable anyone thinks of Ross’ drug kingpin/Tony Montana persona, it’s hard to deny how infectious the soundtrack sounds. I wouldn’t side with DJ Kahled or Drake in calling God Forgives, I Don’t  a classic, it a few bumps here and there, but the project as whole shows that Ross is not slowing down on the level of his production as well as the excessivness of his lyrics. It’s hard to say if this is his best album but at this point it’s doesn’t matter; just sit back and enjoy the ride. (insert Maybach Music drop here)