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There’s got to be a rule of some kind that regulates how late an artist goes on stage after their scheduled show time, but even if there was it’s doubtful Rick Ross would care. The Maybach chieftain kept fans waiting for over two hours after the scheduled start time of 8 pm at the Best Buy Theater in Manhattan’s Times Square last night (Mar. 3), late even for Rapper Time, the metric that most of hip-hop adheres to which means that everything is generally going to be an hour late. But on the night of the release of his sixth album, Mastermind, via Def Jam, Ross didn’t seem to pay attention to anything resembling the “rules” of putting on a show.
“To me, this ain’t a concert,” Ross said after finally emerging and introducing his band. “This an album release party to me.” If it was a party, it was one of those where the host is the only one who really has any idea what’s going on; the Bawse emerged wearing a fur jacket to “B.M.F.,” and by the time he hit his second song—Lil Wayne’s “John” off Tha Carter IV—DJ Khaled was already out on stage popping bottles of Belaire Rosé as Ross half-rapped, half let the backing track do his verses for him. “I’m A Boss”—which had already played over the sound system twice and was a part of DJ Enuff’s opening set—was played in its entirety, despite the fact that Meek Mill wasn’t there and the track is a showcase of sorts for the Philly rapper.
But after a delayed, sloppy start, Rozay found his rhythm for a little while, burning through “FuckWithMeYouKnowIGotIt,” “The Devil Is A Lie” and “Black And White” (the latter of which he ended after the first verse, which meant he didn’t have to rap his controversial Trayvon Martin lyric, which had resulted in his second apology in under twelve months late last week) before he started to bring out the cavalry. First came Tracy T, one of MMG’s newest signings, to stomp the hook on “War Ready,” French Montana to ad-lib his way through “Nobody,” and Chinx to bust out his crew anthem “I’m A Coke Boy.”
The first big surprise of the night came when Ross invited The LOX out for “Money Power Respect”—the trio wound up with one of the biggest ovations of the night—before Rozay brought it back to Mastermind cuts like “Walkin’ On Air” and “Drug Dealer’s Dream.” His first-ever single—2006′s “Hustlin’” off Port Of Miami—preceded Khaled’s return to the stage for “I’m On One,” but then Ross began to lose the handle again. He queued up “In Vein,” the hauntingly slow track he did with The Weeknd off his new album, but didn’t even rap his verse; he then did the same for “Sanctified,” saying he wouldn’t be performing that one until he had Kanye on stage with him.
An energetic “Pop That” then gave way to a strange transition, as Khaled pulled French and Ross together for an Instagram selfie while Tracy T took over and performed his own two new songs, “Champagne” and “Sixteen” as Ross left the stage. Fat Trel then came out and did his remix of Future’s “Shit” with Tracy T, before Ross came back and brought out the seemingly ever-present Busta Rhymes, who performed “Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Can See” before telling the crowd that Ross was one of his favorite MCs of all time.
And then, it was…over. As suddenly as he’d emerged on stage Ross and his crew were gone, leaving some in the crowd wondering why they had waited more than two hours for a performance that barely clocked in at 60 minutes, total. But then again, Ross’ career has always been a reminder that life is good at the top—and if you’re not up at the head table, there’s not much you can do about it. Rich, as Ross reminds the listener on the second track off Mastermind, is gangsta. —Dan Rys (@danrys)