Posts Tagged ‘Jay-Z’

HipHop Bars 2 Beats 4 Reviews: Rick Ross – Mastermind

Friday, November 14th, 2014

by A. Pierre



It’s the Summer of 2005, and for the first time ever I’m on my way to the airport without any of my family. Now who was with me? Well, a group of friends and a few associates headed down to Miami, FL, straight to South Beach for Memorial Day Weekend for roughly a 7-day stay. A lot of things were seen that week, and fun had, but one of the many things I distinctly remember about the environment outside the obvious, was the parade of cars circling Ocean Drive and Collins Ave, full of drop tops, candy paint, 20+ inch rims, and luxury to Old School souped-up cars that were surely way out of my “fresh out of college” budget. As I stepped out on the scene for the first day what did I hear, and not entirely to my surprise literally every 10 minutes ALL week long blasting throughout Ocean Drive? Rick Ross’s break out single , “Hustlin” off his debut album Port Of Miami, and sprinkled in there was Young Joc’s “Its Goin’ Down” (now where is that guy anyway?), but i digress. As far as “Hustlin” goes I’m not sure if I’ve ever been in an environment where I heard the same song repped so hard over and over and over again. However it’s not too hard to see why, when you factor in that “Hustlin” was arguably the hottest street anthem around that time, encompassing gritty production, with a to the point yet addictive hook, then on top of that we were actually in Miami where Rick Ross repped, it was to be expected.

Now move forward roughly 9 years to date, and it’s safe to say that Rick Ross has gone through his share of ups and downs personally and musically. What started as the new “hot” Southern artist churning out hits from his debut album, went to the negative controversy and backlash from his initial correction officer lies, which then consequently led to talk of fabrication in his rhymes to issues with the real convicted drug trafficker “Freeway” Ricky Ross, to now where Ross is an accomplished pillar in the game. Over the years it seems like somewhere along the line Rick Ross’s backlash from his eventual admitted CO days, along with all the other miscellaneous issues people were nitpicking with Ross about seemed to just go away so to speak. Why? Well, we’ll touch on that later.

On Rick Ross’ Latest offering “Mastermind”, his 6th studio LP it’s actually more of the same from the southern emcee. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, some artist produce their best material by staying in their lane and simply just continuing to do what they do best. Other artists learn how to show advanced progression in their music which can many times take them to another stratosphere musically and/or lyrically, pushing them to the top echelon of MC’s in rap. As far as Ross is concerned, on “Mastermind” he’s done what he usually does on most of his albums; trap music rhymes rapped over good production filtered with some street anthems, a few tracks for the ladies and multiple big name guest appearances.

The first big-name featured guest and stand out track on Mastermind is the Jay-Z assisted “Devil is a Lie”. Needless to say Hov takes over the track with his verse, touching on the shade he’s gotten for his long success as an artist and businessman. On the soulful trunk rattling track Hov raps…

“Is it truth or it’s fiction, is it truth or it’s fiction?
Is Hova atheist? I never fuck with True Religion
Am I down with the devil cuz my roof come up missin’?
Is that Lucifer juice in that two cup he sippin’?
That’s D’usse baby welcome to the dark side
Coulda got black list for the crack shit
White Jesus in my crock pot
I mix the shit with some soda
Now I’m black Jesus turn water to wine
And all I had to do was turn the stove up
Beast Coast, winnin’ at life, nigga, cheat code
The hatin’ is flagrant, hit your free throws
The devil try to hit me with the RICO, them black people
Devil want these niggas hate they own kind
Gotta be Illuminati if a nigga shine
Oh we can’t be a nigga if a nigga rich?
Oh we gotta be the devil that’s some nigga shit
You seen what I did to the stop and frisk
Brooklyn on the Barney’s like we own the bitch
Give the money to the hood, now we all win
Got that Barney’s floor lookin’ like a VIM
Black hoodie, black skully
Bravado like Mavado, boy I’m that gully
Gettin white money but I’m still black
All these niggas claiming king but I’m still that
King Hova, Mansa Musa
From a lie, the devil is a lie, I’m the truth, yeah”

On the track “War Ready” featuring Young Jeezy, Ross continues his long track record and extended string of hard hitting street anthems, this one produced by Mike Will Made It. Jeezy and Rick Ross picked the perfect song to bury their long standing personal issues. “War Ready” is the type of track that you CANNOT play on low volume and truly appreciate the energy. On the 5th track “Nobody” with French Montana on the hook and including additional P. Diddy ad-libs sprinkled throughout the song, Ross initially received a lot of negative feedback.

One thing I’ve noticed in Hip-Hop is whenever one artist touches even the essence of a beloved artist like a 2Pac or in this case an old Biggie Smalls track and attempts to sample, remix, reprise or however you would like to describe it, fans of that artist love to get all up in arms about how blasphemous it is to touch their classic track. Well when you bring some objectivity into the discussion and just relax and enjoy the music, Ross’ “Nobody” is a dope track. The addition of French Montana’s sing-song vocal tone on the hook compliment the track perfectly, and to be quite honest I’m not sure this track could have been done right with anyone else on the hook outside of Ross literally sampling Biggie’s voice from the “Life After Death” original.

Rick Ross does an admirable job mimicking Biggie’s legendary flow on the track in question, rapping…

“I’m from where the streets test you
Niggas mix business and pleasure where the cocaine measure
The narcotics is our product
The by-product, you walk up on me, I cock it
New Mercedes as it peels off
Nothing penetrates the steel doors, gang signs, see ‘em all
I said my prayer as I’m countin’ sheep
Never really athletic, but I play for keeps, do you feel me?
The mortician, the morgue fillin’ with more snitches
We kill ‘em and taking their bitches, R.I.P
Chinchillas on a winter night
Black bottles when I’m feelin’ like, you wanna know what winners like
And I’m never on that tour bus
Just a decoy for niggas, the PJ’s for two of us
Ciroc boys down to die for Diddy
My niggas ride for less, keep it real, homie, made me filthy
Touch mine, until it’s even: kill
Like I’m knowing every heathen will, closed the deal with Steven Hill
We Magic City of the networks
Cut a nigga cast off, how my nigga net worths”

If the intention of this track was to pay homage while attempting to make a dope rendition all in one, Ross did a solid job.

Another one of the stand-out tracks is “Thug Cry” featuring Lil Wayne, unfortunately for Ross this is another circumstance of him being out-rapped on his own song. On the 2nd verse Wayne raps…

“Well, let me light one for my problems
Smokin’ on that loud, pumpin’ up that volume
Get it crackin’ like an eggshell
In this mothafucka make omelettes
Get a bad bitch that posts up like comments
They don’t know what I been through
Don’t know what I’m goin’ through
As long as I get through, that’s what I look forward to
Richer than a bitch but still I can’t afford to
Let these niggas play with me; need to be remorseful
I swear I got that silencer on that Mac 9
And I kill these niggas with silence
My head stay in the clouds, I really feel like a giant
Can’t trust none of these niggas, I murk one of these niggas
Then bury one of these niggas, still got dirt under my fingers
That ain’t a threat, that’s a bet, cause they coming at my neck
Like the best a man can get, but to make a long story short
I need a shoulder cause the devil on one
The other one, I’m lookin’ over

Ross is not flawless on “Mastermind” and far from being considered a lyrical giant on this album; for every “Drug Dealers Dream”, “Devil is a Lie” or “Blk & Wht” banger there’s a “Walking On Air” featuring Meek Mill that sounds like a bland filler track from any number of MMG mixtapes, or “Supreme” which has nice production but is also easily a skipper. Throughout “Mastermind” Ross continues to give what has kept him successful and relevant on the Hip-Hop scene, which is plain ole consistency. There is something to be said for being consistent; you may not break any new ground by creating only consistent solid to good albums with similar content. However there are plenty of artists over the years that have talked about the same topics they have rapped about out since their debuts that have fallen off or consequently began making increasingly stale music while doing a poor of job of keeping old stories fresh to the listener.

So whether we are talking about sports, entertainment, business, or in this case music, when you create product the masses of people enjoy over and over again, they will conveniently “forget” about your past transgressions. Hey it’s life! When you win, the people give you a pass, when your losing in your chosen field they love to pile on all your negative past until you fall off the scene. All in all no one would confuse “Mastermind” as anything transcendent, however it’s still another win for the Rick Ross catalog, and the continuation of Rick Ross’ overall career theme, which is simply being…… Mr. Consistent. #HaitianJack

Rick Ross   –   “Mastemind” (Released March 2014)

Bars: L    Beats: XL    Music: XL       Report Card: B

A. Pierre of HipHop Bars 2 Beats 4 Reviews, for War Room Sports

NFL Preseason Mash Ups: NFC East Personas

Thursday, August 7th, 2014

by WingFan






Teams have personality.  Between the owner, the coach, the players, and the fans, a team develops certain behaviors.  As we approach the official beginning of the NFL season, WingFan would like to countdown to kickoff by walking you through each team and our assessment of their persona.  Let’s forget about draft picks, free agents, and statistics for a moment and just focus on each division, each team, and each personality.  Imagine Wendy Williams, Jay-Z, Hulk Hogan and Pam Anderson sitting down to dinner together – what a show right?  Well, that’s the NFC East right now.  Let’s take a look at what each team brings to the table:


Team: Philadelphia Eagles

Persona: Wendy Williams

WWWith no Super Bowl titles to speak of, the Eagles still manage to have one of the biggest personalities in the league, much like Wendy Williams, who has one of the biggest personalities in entertainment.  No Super Bowl wins doesn’t mean “no championships.”  The Eagles have actually won 3 NFL championships prior to the Super Bowl era.  Wendy Williams has never won an Oscar either, but she was named to the Radio Hall of Fame.  Radio – you know the media that existed before the television era?

The similarities continue.  The ex-shock jock’s most infamous moment was an interview with Whitney Houston where she hammered Houston on questions of drug use; ruthlessly digging into Whitney’s emotional wounds on-air.  Now, would you believe that the Philadelphia Eagles fans hammered Santa Clause with snow balls and booed him at the halftime of a December game in 1968?  Ruthless is, as ruthless does.  Williams actually broadcast her radio shows out of Philly’s own Power 99 FM – a station she helped take from #14 in local ratings to #2 during her time there.  Coincidentally, during the 2000s, former head coach Andy Reid took the Eagles all the way to the Super Bowl where they lost the big game and finished the season as the #2 team in the league.  The key to staying relevant for the Eagles and Williams seems to be their willingness to speak to the public about private matters.  Stories about Terrell Owens, Michael Vick, and Riley Cooper have littered the headlines in Philadelphia for almost a decade.  Williams shared stories on-air about her drug use, her breast implants, and even her miscarriages.

Recent years have been more about transformation for both Williams and the Eagles.  The Eagles are now the slimmed down version of Wendy Williams with the extra long weave.  New head coach, Chip Kelly, gave the Eagles offense a makeover last year, and drafted leaner players who have more speed and endurance than your average NFL athletes.  With the liposuction and new look, the Eagles surprised critics last year by winning the NFC East and making it to the playoffs.  Perhaps, this year, they will follow Wendy’s recent big screen appearances with some big game appearances of their own.


Team: Dallas Cowboys

Persona: Hulk Hogan

HHThe Dallas Cowboys are often dubbed “America’s Team” and Hulk Hogan used to enter the ring to a song titled “I am a Real American”.  These two deserve each other.  For decades these two entities have both entertained the American public.  The Cowboys won two Super Bowls in the 70’s and established a dynasty by winning three Super Bowls in the 90’s. Hogan carried professional wrestling from the late 70’s, through the 80’s, and into the late 90’s.  Around 1997, the two entities managed to fly off into obscurity, only to be revived every now and then by reality TV and good marketing.

Hogan made a comeback in the new millennium when he landed a reality show called “Hogan Knows Best”.  Meanwhile, the Cowboys became a featured team on HBO’s new reality show “Hard Knocks.”  The publicity kept them both relevant, even though they were still living in their pasts.  Each received the benefit of the doubt from media outlets, while their fans blindly routed for their success and celebrated their celebrity.  Recently, both have managed to let their status go to to their heads – literally and figuratively – as infidelity and scandal abound.

Hogan’s wife divorced him after she found out the Hulk was sleeping with his daughter’s BFF; while photos recently surfaced of Cowboys owner, Jerry Jones, posing provocatively with younger woman.  In the wake of the NFL’s lenient two-game punishment for Ray Rice who hit his wife, Jones’ behavior isn’t exactly the kind of leadership the NFL might want on display.  In the coming weeks, we will see how things turn out for Jerry Jones, but one thing is clear, this is American Beauty.


Team: New York Giants                               

Persona: Jay-Z

JZYou might think this mash-up lacks creativity because New York is Jay-Z’s hometown, but that’s more of the icing than the cake.  The Giants are known for not just winning, but winning with a little bit of magic – some would call it luck.  Both the Giants and Jay-Z have legitimate titles on their resume: the Giants’ first Super Bowl win in 1986 was a 39-20 thrashing of the Denver Broncos, and Jay-Z’s debut album, “Reasonable Doubt”, is an undisputed hip-hop classic that most fans only started to appreciate years after it was released.

The Giants second, third, and fourth titles required some magic: a field goal miss from Buffalo’s Scott Norwood, a clutch catch off of David Tyree’s helmet on 4th down, and a perfectly placed Eli Manning pass to Mario Manningham with virtually no time left.  Jay-Z’s career has all of that: becoming one of the only links to Notorious BIG after his untimely passing, becoming the focal point in hip-hop’s “beef” era (an era where artists challenged each other song for song), and of course, becoming Beyonce’s fiancé (and husband) really didn’t hurt.  Some might call these occurrences “luck”.  But if you ask the Giants and Jay-Z, they’d say you “Can’t Knock the Hustle.”


Team: Washington Football Team

Persona: Pamela Anderson

PANo…this combination has nothing to do with a sex tape, but, then again, you never know what’s coming out of Washington these days.  With all due respect, the Washington Football Team won three Super Bowls – two in the 80’s and one in the 90’s.  Let’s call these the “Baywatch Days”.  The Washington Football Team were as pretty as Pamela Anderson bouncing down the beach in a little red bathing suit – they were all put together. Things started to change once Pam left Baywatch and the same thing happened in Washington when ownership changed from Jack Kent Cooke to Daniel Snyder.

Celebrity and branding became a larger part of the picture when both Pam and Dan started to tinker with their already established products.  Dan moved the team to the suburbs, while Pam moved from TV to movies.  Then the face lifts and plastic surgery ramped up for Pam and Dan.  Dan brought in celebrity coach after celebrity coach, celebrity athlete after celebrity athlete, and a carousel of quarterbacks that might finally stop with RGIII.  Same thing happened to Pam – her chest got more and more inflated, her face got more and more distorted, and her hair got more and more blonde.

Washington has only been to the playoffs four times in 22 years; and no one has featured Pam Anderson on the silver screen since Barb Wire (appearances aside).  It’s almost comedic. Washington just signed their 8th new head coach since the year 2000 and Robert Griffin (RGIII) is their 15th quarterback in the same time period.  If there were a team that deserved to sit in the hot seat and get roasted like Pam Anderson, it would be the Washington Football Team.  Their current name is a joke in and of itself.


UP NEXT:  AFC East Personas


WingFan, for War Room Sports

Hip-Hop’s Purchasing Power

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

by Writing Battle History

Writing Battle Rap History Logo







Donald Sterling - Los Angeles Clippers franchise owner

Donald Sterling – Los Angeles Clippers franchise owner

The Donald Sterling ordeal was something else!  After being surreptitiously recorded ranting his feelings about black people to his mistress, V. Stiviano, Sterling’s appallingly primitive views on race set in motion a tidal wave of disgust throughout the national media.   The width of his racism was captured in his infamous quotes.  Speaking of his black players, “I support them and give them food, and clothes, and cars, and houses.”  He continues, “I’m just saying, in your lousy fxxxing Instagrams, you don’t have to have yourself walking with black people,” and “Don’t put him [Magic Johnson] on an Instagram for the world to see so they have to call me. And don’t bring him to my games.”

Though Stiviano is racially mixed, post-racial America’s charge on a boldly different perspective on race and race relations hasn’t capitulated Sterling’s D.W. Griffith-aesthetic.  Because of this, NBA Commissioner, Adam Silver fined Sterling $2.5 million dollars in addition to banning him from the NBA “for life.” Among more interesting things is that the NBA is taking action to force Sterling to sell his $575 million dollar franchise, that could sell for upwards of $1 billion dollars.  There are plenty of sharks roaming the shores of the LA Clippers’ franchise; filthy rich sharks, and some famed rappers are a part of this pod.

If the NBA’s board of governors can force Sterling to sell, a roll call of potential buyers are ready.  With a combined net worth of over $60 billion dollars, the most likely to win a bidding war are business tycoons Oprah Winfrey, David Geffen and Larry Ellison.  Guggenheim Partners, Magic Johnson, and Mark Walter are another group of bidders that have a good shot at the LA Clippers.  The sharks that are least likely to win in a bidding war are rappers. Sean Combs, Dr. Dre, and Rick Ross have all publicly expressed interest but compared to the above mentioned, probably lack the capital needed to purchase a majority stake.

They can afford to be minority owners, however.  Nelly is a minority owner of the Charlotte Bobcats and Jay-Z recently sold his minority stake in the Brooklyn Nets.  And Drake has partnered with his hometown team, the Toronto Raptors, helping them with a variety of initiatives, including launching a clothing line in conjunction with the franchise.  Click here to read the full article.



Friday, October 8th, 2010

Bandwagon jumpers, also known as front-runners, also known as faux fans, absolutely disgust me.  Now, “wagoneers” come in several different categories, and I’ll briefly explain a few of them.  First you have your “Hometown Wagon Jumpers”.  These are the folks who may not follow a particular sport, or may not even follow sports in general, but when one of their hometown teams get on a miraculous postseason run, they hop on the bandwagon, even if only to avoid being left out of the city’s excitement.  I’ve witnessed this in Philadelphia over the past several years as baseball and now hockey fans have come out of the woodwork.

Then you have your “Hometown Frontrunners”.  This is the group who can care less about the hometown teams unless they’re doing well.  This may sound similar to the “Hometown Wagon Jumpers”, but this group is comprised of knowledgeable sports fans that actually follow the sport or sports in question.  However, their televisions stay on a different channel and the stadium/arena seats stay empty until the team starts to show some promise, and when that team is finally considered good or “special”, the television ratings start to suddenly skyrocket and the arena is miraculously filled for the rest of the season. (See Miami Heat fans in the 2005-2006 NBA Season.  Even their President & General manager Pat Riley jumped on the bandwagon by forcing Stan Van Gundy out and making himself head coach of an obvious contender).

Then there are the “face-savers”.  These are the ones who pick teams that they saw winning when they were young, newbie sports fans.  Later in life when those teams stink and aren’t worth rooting for, you don’t hear much about them but they still claim them to save face and avoid getting called out by assholes like me.  Then when those teams are back on top, jerseys are purchased, car flags are flown, and they represent as if they never left.

Finally, you have your straight up “Wagon Groupies” who hitch their wagons to one of the odds-on favorites in each sport year after year.  This is the most shameless of the bunch because their “loyalties” have the potential to change every year.  Year after year, they’re representing different teams and act as if they have no clue why other sports fans they know look at them with a crooked eye.  Every year, they have a new “childhood team” (even if that team is an expansion team that wasn’t around in their childhood), or so it seems.

Now don’t get me wrong…this is a free country, so wagoneers have the right to root for whomever they please, whenever they please.  My biggest beef with them is that they always sought out the most die-hard fan they know to talk their trash.  I think THEY THINK it makes them look and feel more “die-hard” to pick fights with REAL “die-hards”.  Just know that if you have to constantly explain your “fanhood” to people you talk to every day, then we know you’re not real.  So my message to the “Wagon Contingent” remains………….”WE DON’T BELIEVE YOU.  YOU NEED MORE PEOPLE!”


Devin “Dev” McMillan of The War Room, for War Room Sports