Rick Ross had a very clear and concise idea of what he wanted to do with his LP Teflon Don. He was inspired in part by some of the all-time classic albums he's loved throughout his life — Nas' Illmatic, Bobby Brown's Don't Be Cruel, Michael Jackson's Thriller. Each of those albums kept its track listing at fewer than a dozen songs, but every one of those songs was timeless.
When he was done recording Teflon several weeks ago, Ross brought the idea of only having 11 songs on his LP to Island/Def Jam Chairman L.A. Reid.
"He was like, 'It's gotta be the right 11 records if it's gonna be 11 records,' " Ross recalled. "I said, 'That's exactly why I'm doing it. It's only a few artists that for one, would take that chance when it's common to do 15, 16. We all know that you don't like the 15, 16, 17. You really like the dope eight or the dope five. Or dope seven.' I said, 'Let's trim the fat off a little bit and give them some rich street music.' "
Teflon Don was released Tuesday (July 20), but Ross has been getting a plethora of acclaim since it leaked about a week ago. Songs from the LP that surfaced earlier than that, such as "Tears of Joy," "Aston Martin Music" and "Maybach Music III," have also been widely embraced. None has been talked about more than his collaboration with Jay-Z, "Free Mason." Young Hov tackles the rumors of his allegiance to the Illuminati and Satan, authoring a strong candidate for verse of the year.
"I know if I'm on a record with Jay-Z, not only are my rhymes gonna be on point, not only is the flow gonna be intact, but the way I say the words ... The title of the record, the meaning of the record, is the title big enough for the expectations of this collaboration? A lot of people were like, 'Wow, that's what you gonna title the record?' I'm like, 'Why not?' That's what hip-hop's about. Let's get to the point. It's so much speculation, so many whispers coming out of the sewers. Why not do a record and call it 'Free Mason' and we do what we do on it and they'll know when they hear it. The title may throw them off, but it's a good thing. They gotta hear it, and when they listen to it, everything that's running through their minds, it'll be answered. That was the whole idea when I brought it to [Jay]."
Ross traveled with Jay on some dates on the Blueprint 3 tour several months ago and presented Hov with almost the complete package in hopes of securing a collaboration.
"I knew the way to get that was to bring him the idea, my verse, everything, the whole picture in front of him," the Bawse said. "He was listening to my verse. I said one particular word and when he heard the words 'free mason' — at that point we hadn't titled it — but when he heard it ... I saw his facial expression, like, 'Yeah. I been meaning to [address this].' When I backed the beat up, he came in and he was so direct.
" 'N---as couldn't do nothing with me, so they put the devil on me. ...' I felt it because it's like when you are that great, and you're so successful, some people just can't imagine that. It's reality. It's real, people! He was straight to the point, like, 'Damn. That's what you gotta say to bring me down now? I'm so successful that you almost gotta credit the devil for this success.' When you think about it, it's really sad for the people that think that way. So it was like, 'Wow.' I was just happy I had the cojones to come with that idea and say 'This what it is homie.' Soon as he heard it, he was like, boom, let's go in. He got straight to the point and did it in the greatest of ways."