If you came up as a rap fan in the 1990s, it's hard to come to grips with the fact that the Illmatic/Doggystyle/Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) ideal has become outmoded. Rappers rarely start with a fully-formed classic right off the bat. And sometimes, a guy who was underrated, underappreciated, or even considered a joke earlier in their career actually generates so much momentum that they eventually become undeniable.
The best part of Rick Ross’ career to date might be the humorous calender inspired by his 2006 breakout hit, “Hustlin” (can you guess which activity is scheduled every day?), so my expectations for his fourth full-length, Teflon Don, were low — in spite of the fact that he has managed to acquit himself nicely on a few excellent summer jams, most notably the remix of DJ Khaled’s “All I Do Is Win.” Imagine my surprise to discover that Teflon Don is not only not atrocious, but it may also actually be one of the better rap albums of 2010. Admittedly, the bar is set low, as mainstream rappers have generated some outstanding singles but few listenable full-lengths in the new millennium. In a genre where “classic” albums are so few and far between due to unfunny skits, senseless dialogue, throwaway filler tracks, and bloated guest lists, the first notable feature of the Miami rapper’s new album is its economy: Teflon Don clocks in under 50 minutes, with only 11 tracks. It’s even difficult to pick out the singles without prior knowledge, as the quality remains consistent throughout.
It wasn’t easy for Ross to make it even to where he is now. Sounding somewhat like a cigar-smoking Kermit, his flow is more chunky than smooth and his topical content doesn’t extend much beyond that same ole-money rap variety. There’s also the whole thing about being a correctional officer, which doesn’t really help when your telling stories about being in the crack game. Nevertheless, Ross is a hard-working man who continually comes up with some absurdly memorable lines to supplement the lack of thematic inventiveness. Not to mention the dude is just kind of ridiculous. After all, when was the last time you saw Rick Ross with a shirt on and no sunglasses?