On Tuesday, July 20, Rick Ross will release his fourth studio album, Teflon Don, and everybody’s talking. It seems like he’s everywhere these days: the TV, the radio, the blogs… The Boss’s bearded grill is inescapable, but will this be the album that will finally earn Ross a place among rap’s elite? A few members of the XXL staff and some of our awesome interns (what up Manny and Calvin) brought the issue to the virtual roundtable yesterday afternoon to discuss for our new column, Aim & Fire, where we chop it up on the latest trending topics in hip-hop. Here’s what we had to say.
Jesse Gissen: OK, so the topic this week is Ricky Ross and the question is: Can Ross stand on his own two? In other words, the man is known for having a lot of big name guest appearances and larger than life beats — but can he hold his own?
Emmanuel “Manny” Maduakolam: Nope..right now..pure swag rapper..lyrics are mediocre at best.
Rob Markman: Teflon Don does have a TON of guests, but Ross has proven himself as a strong MC.
Adam Fleischer: He holds his own on those records often times, but I don’t think he’d be where he is without the features
Matt Barone: Rapper, or MC?
Rob: Ross is an MC.
Laurence Bass: I think his beat selection will keep the people listening. Rhymes, not so much.
Rob: Listen to the third verse on “I’m Not A Star” he killed that verse.
Calvin Stovall: He can stand on his own, but he knows that everyone would rather hear him with Jay and Kanye… who wouldn’t?
Rob: Take “Free Mason” for example. That was an incredible Jay verse. Ross held his own? He didn’t best Jay, but he held his fuckin’ own.
Matt: But is it okay to just “hold your own”?
Jesse: Good question Matt.
Adam: I think cause of his flow, he’ll always somewhat hold his own.
Rob: Nah go back to “Free Mason.” Ross spits: “Big contracts, big contractors/Built pyramids, period, we masters/No Caterpillars, it was just a lot of niggas/A lot of great thinkers and a lot of great inventors”
Rob: That’s lyricism. That’s some MC shit.
Calvin: He doesn’t spit wack verses… but he doesn’t spit anything that blows your mind.
Matt: He shows signs of MCing, yeah, but one or two impressive verses doesn’t make a true MC, to me at least.
Calvin: He’s solid, there’s nothing wrong with that. I’m not skipping his verses to get to Jay’s or Kanye’s or Drake’s.
Adam: Rob, do you think you’d have any less love for the CD if it were feature-less? Same songs, but only Ross?
Turn to the next page to continue reading the conversation.