LOS ANGELES -- Rick Ross is gearing up to unleash his latest album Black Market on Dec. 4. Ahead of the release, Rozay held a listening session at Sonos Studios in Los Angeles on Thursday, Nov. 19, where he previewed a handful of the project's cuts.
Before we get into the sneak peek, it’s important to note that Black Market is set to drop after a series of successful Rozay albums. That's important because Ross seems confident that this will be, as DJ Khaled would say, another one. "We're gonna make history once again," he told the crowd on Thursday, while playing select tracks. So, will he succeed?
The project's definitely got the star power to do it. Just look at this featured guest lineup: Future, Mariah Carey, Nas, Meek Mill, John Legend, DJ Premier, Chris Brown, The Dream and Cee Lo Green. But what do these tracks sound like?
Well, Rozay wants to keep some of them — like the one with Mariah, for example -- under wraps for now, but he did share a few of the high-profile collabs at the session. Here's a breakdown:
"Free Enterprise" feat. John LegendAndres Tardio/MTV News
John and Rozay have a solid (and extensive) track record. Songs like “Maybach Curtains,” “Magnificent,” "Rich Forever,” and “Break My Heart” have all shown us what these two can make together. So this is just the latest example of their chemistry.
"Free Enterprise" is also the album's intro. It sets the stage for some self-reflection as The Bawse raps about his image and how he’s perceived while Legend brings some inspiring vocals.
"Dope D-ck"Andres Tardio/MTV News
This track doesn’t have a guest appearance, but it was notable at the session because of one particular line. And here it is: "No shots, but I write all of my raps.”
Given the Drake/Meek Mill saga that’s dominated rap headlines this year, that line stood out and perhaps speaks to what “Ghostwriter” is going to be about too. We’ll have to wait and see about that, of course. But still, you can’t help but be intrigued by a line like this at a time like this.
“Smile Mama, Smile” feat. Cee Lo GreenAndres Tardio/MTV News
This joint lives up to its title and is a heartfelt ode to Rozay’s mom. It’s particularly moving because of Ross’ ability to be open and vulnerable on the track.
“No more Promethazine,” he rhymes on the cut. “That’ll make her proud.” Opening up about his lean use and how it affects his mother is pretty bold and yet another sign of self analysis on the LP. Adding Cee Lo to the mix only helps bring more emotion to the cut. This might be one of Rozay’s most touching tracks yet.
“D.O.P.E.” feat. FutureAndres Tardio/MTV News
Future brings his trademark trap bounce to this track. In fact, while Rozay sat for much of the other album cuts, “D.O.P.E.” had him up and dancing, as you can see above. And yep, that’s Renzel’s “D.O.P.E.” dance.
"One Of Us" feat. NasAndres Tardio/MTV News
During the listening session, Ross repeatedly referred to Nas as a legend (though he called him by his full first name, Nasir). This legend is actually now a frequent collaborator and together, they crafted another standout. If you’ve enjoyed their past collabs (“Triple Beam Dreams,” “Accident Murderers” and “Maybach Curtains,” for instance) “One of Us” will be another Esco/Rozay banger to add to your playlist.
Meek Mill -- who was in attendance, along with Lil Durk and Freddie Gibbs -- seemed to really be into this one, too. He was rapping along to the verses and nodding his head to the bars.
After listening to some pieces of the Black Market puzzle, I’m reminded of an interview I conducted with Rozay last month. At the time, he told us what we could expect from the project.
“The album is most definitely my most sincere, maybe my most powerful yet,” he explained to MTV News. “It’s about me really opening my mind up past making music that I just wanna hear in the club, but actually having discussions with motherf–kers that they may actually absorb and understand what I’m talking about.”
Songs like “Smile Mama, Smile” and “Free Enterprise” exemplify that. And, that’s just scratching the surface.
So, will Black Market be Ross’s best LP yet? Time will tell. We’ve only heard a few of the album cuts and there’s still much more to unpack, but so far, we are getting much of what Rozay promised us.