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Losing none of the momentum put in motion by his 2009 effort, Deeper Than Rap, Rick Ross keeps a very good thing going on Teflon Don, arguably his best album to date. You want rap-style luxury? Then Deeper is the better fit, but Teflon plays up the chilled and soulful elements of its predecessor, meaning Ross has graduated to a level where words like “organic” and “poignant” come into play. The former is best represented by “Mayback Music III” and it’s swirling, ‘70s-flavored dreamscape created by the J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League production team. Ross allows guests T.I. and Jadakiss to go first on the cut, then grabs his cigar for an uplifting story of ghetto triumph that goes from pushing to pleasing the folks (“Parents never had a good job/Now it’s black American Express cards"). When it comes to “poignant,” the evidence is dotted throughout the album with the rapper reflecting on where he’s been, and he often questions his own lust for fame. He chants the title to the opening “I’m Not a Star” as if it was a remindful mantra, but it’s his new love of contrasts that’s really interesting, following Kanye’s swaggering on “Live Fast, Die Young” with “Seems to me we gettin’ money for the wrong things/Look around, Maseratis for the whole team/Look at Haiti, children dyin’ round the clock/I’d send a hundred grand but that’s a decent watch”. The familiar party and thugging tunes work too with “B.M.F. (Blowin' Money Fast),” “No. 1,” and the mixtape favorite “MC Hammer” -- now with added Gucci Mane verse -- all coming correct. Add all the Illuminati references in the Jay-Z team-up (“Free Mason”), a decent smoking song (“Super High”), and a track where Cee-Lo’s performance just might make you misty (“Tears of Joy”), and it’s obvious Ross’ albums are no longer just vessels for his singles.
Review by David Jeffries
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