Over the space of three months, he’s released two stupendous projects — The Albert Anastasia EP (a mixtape, which, for reasons known only to him, is actually 13 tracks long) and Teflon Don, which, by the time you read this, will probably be sitting at #1 on the Billboard 200 — that made me start Googling stuff like “Big Meech” and “Larry Hoover”.
He caused me to ponder just why some cocaine is nicknamed “Archie Bunker” (duh, because it’s so white!), and walk around my apartment shouting “F— the judge, prosecutor and the district attorney!” so loudly that my wife is starting to reconsider our marriage. He has even forced me to reconsider my feelings on Diddy .
Clearly, big things are afoot.
I’m not really sure why any of this is happening but I’m certainly not the only one who feels this way, as Teflon Don has received a groundswell of critical acclaim from a host of, shall we say, less than traditional media outlets. So it might be as simple as the fact that the album is really good. But there are plenty of really good albums released each year, and most of them don’t get this kind of attention, so that may not entirely explain why Ricky is having his moment right now.
It could have something to do with the elaborate, wide-screen world he’s created for himself — a downright “Scarfacian” sphere of swagger and sophistication — or the way he lumbers between those two extremes, oftentimes in the same song, and always convincingly so (a feat his contemporaries have yet to truly master). It might be the monolithic figure he cuts or the lengths he goes to in order to keep his granite-hard Boss persona intact (arriving at a strip club by helicopter was a genius touch), or the fact that, despite those things, he’s still not afraid to release a song like “Tears of Joy,” a complicated, (sorta) fragile pondering of his life of excess.
There are a million more reasons — his innate ability to positively destroy the first four bars of a song (see “Blowin’ Money Fast (B.M.F.)”), his ability to bring out the best in dudes like Jay-Z (“Free Mason”) and the aforementioned Diddy — and all of them are probably correct. But they all point to the same thing: Right now, there’s no one as compelling as him, no one as multifaceted, no one as interesting. Sure, Eminem has released his million-selling mea culpa, Recovery, and whenever Kanye comes back, certainly the entire world will be waiting to hear what he has to say (and if his verse on Teflon Don‘s “Live Fast, Die Young” is any indication, he’s gonna be plenty mad), but at the moment, Ross is Boss. At least for me.
And in a lot of respects, Teflon Don came to me at exactly the right time. For whatever reason, I find most rock music — or at least everything that goes into it — to be intolerably boring at the moment. Perhaps I’ve been around it for too long, have interviewed too many mumbling white dudes with beards, but I’m having a hard time feigning interest, no matter how great the efforts of the National or the Arcade Fire may be. Win Butler is no Rick Ross, after all. He’s interminably real. Ross — with his minks and Maybachs, his tales of mansions and machine guns (be they real or imagined) — is downright fictional, like a character out of a movie. I don’t care about his prison-guard past, or whether he actually moves keys of coke through Biscayne Bay, I just want to be entertained and enthralled, and if it’s by an extra hefty man with a huge beard, well, then all the better.
So that probably explains why I’ve become obsessed. Maybe it means I’m regressing, but that doesn’t bother me. After all, there was a time in my life when I loved pro wrestling too. And listening to Teflon Don is a lot like the WWE, only with more bullets. It’s theater. It’s art. It’s awesome and everything I’ve been looking for. Because I don’t want to be morose right now. I want to get “Super High.” Give me fiction, give me fantasy, give me velvet-draped, cognac-drenched, caviar-wishes-and-cocaine dreams. Give me the Bawse. I’m ready too. I’ve already started growing the beard and everything.
Questions? Concerns? Hit me up at BTTS@MTVStaff.com.