06:00PM ET July 20, 2010
Contributor: Hip Hop Blog Staff
A Rocky Williform Company
Miami's Rick Ross has always been one of the more quietly consistent album-makers in mainstream hip-hop. That's not damning with faint praise--if anything, it's criticism with some disappointment. Ross' albums are always well-crafted but the South Florida rapper has yet to really prove that he has anything to say that hasn't been said umpteen times before. Teflon Don is an immaculate listen, the production of such luminaries as J.U.S.T.I.C.E., No I.D. and Clark Kent assures that even when Rick sounds decidedly uninspired (which is often enough), the album still sounds good.
Ross is solid as a rhymer, but he doesn't have enough panache on the mic to hide his by-the-numbers metaphors and cliche subject matter. The much-praised "Free Mason" track features a laid-back cameo from Jay-Z that makes it obvious how far Rick has to go lyrically but benefits from an enthusiastic performance. No I.D.'s soulful "Tears of Joy" benefits greatly from a powerful Cee-Lo vocal on the hook as Ross declares he's "Biggie Smalls in the flesh, living life after my death..." and the infectious "M.C. Hammer" has radio-hit written all over it--with a semi-ironic nod to the late 80s pop rap star and a thundering Lex Luger-produced backdrop.
The summer smash "B.M.F." is quite possibly the standout track of the bunch, with its drug-kingpin referencing hook, it finds Ross indulging his Tony Montana fantasies: "Rozay,that's my nickname, cocaine running in my big veins." Of course, there's nothing here that hasn't been said before, but it's delivered with enough braggadocio and fun that you're willing to ride along for a few seconds of romanticized outlaw escapism.
Teflon Don proves more about Ross's skills as a craftsman than it does about Ricky Rozay's artistic acumen. He knows how to put together an album--that much is for sure; but one can't help but feel that the man born William Roberts is coasting a bit creatively. That'll be good enough to keep him on the charts (see: post-Reasonable Doubt late 90s Jay-Z), but we have yet to see if Ross has any ambitions on crafting a true classic to stand next to the other A-listers of his generation.