Rick Ross and his Maybach Empire celebrate album, foolishly leave off 'Perfectionist'

May 23, 2011|By Wesley Case

Rick Ross is the most consistent — and arguably the most important — rapper working today. Hip-hop's crown changes heads with swift regularity (ask me tomorrow and I could say Kanye West or Lil Wayne based on whatever new leak was liberated). But on Monday, May 23 — the day Ross and his Maybach Music Group drop the compilation album Self Made, Vol. 1 — the Miami behemoth is king, thanks to an unrelenting onslaught of crisp, expertly edited lifestyle videos and less-engrossing-but-still-entertaining low-budget music videos. "Perfectionist" is the latest.

Meek Mill, the second high-profile signee to Maybach Music after D.C.'s Wale, is the most promising rapper of the crew besides the head honcho. "Perfectionist," with an Alchemist beat built around Caribbean, syncopated accents, was one of the first and strongest songs Ross and Meek collaborated on. It's also strangely not included on Self Made, a misguided edit because it would greatly benefit from more sonic variety and less rehashes of gravedigging memes over Lex Luger-ish backdrops.

How's this for an opening line: "Hustle out of necessity, father never corrected me / Streets showed me no sympathy, Audemer my accessory," raps Ross. He packs details densely, justifying his (alleged) drug-dealing background, subtley acknowledging his past as a correctional officer and finishing it off with a boast about an expensive watch — a signifier of silencing naysayers with success. There are complaints that Ross rarely "says anything," only emptily rapping in abstract circles about luxuries and cocaine. He has songs like that. Good ones, too, because he constantly surprising me with unique word choice. Even so, I'd point those non-fans to his emotionally rich songs such as "Tears of Joy" and "Valley of Death" for proof he's multi-dimensional. Regardless of where you stand as a Ross fan, the opening lines of "Perfectionist" prove his ability to tell a story without a tired, back-in-my-day set up.

And then there's Meek, whose rapping style matches his age (22) and hometown (Philadelphia). His exuberant energy and brash, rough-around-the-edges vocals match perfectly with Ross, the husky-voiced smooth operator. Meek keeps up with his boss by matching his density. When he raps, "And my n---- Brick on his way, just did a dime for a brick of that yay," he welcomes home a friend from a 10-year jail bid before offering his own tip: "Rule No. 1, never keep them bricks where you stay." "Perfectionist" is a song for fans of straight spitting without the crutch of a catchy hook or recognizable sample. These rappers only concern is outdoing the line that came before it, and that sounds pretty damn good right now.

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