Rick Ross, "Port of Miami" (Def Jam) *1/2
There's no denying that "Hustlin' " is one of the catchiest radio hits of
the summer: There's that booming Miami bass sound; the molasses drawl of the
300-pound, 6'2" rapper Rick Ross and the killer chant that makes for an
inescapable hook. (Everybody now: "Everyday I'm hustlin', everyday I'm
hustlin' / Everyday I'm hustlin', hustlin', hustlin'.") The problem is
the rest of Ross' much-anticipated debut album is as repetitious as the
chorus of his breakthrough hit.
Two decades after pioneering gangsta rappers such as Ice-T and KRS-1
chronicled the hustlin' life of the street-corner dealer, it's still
possible to make interesting art about the cocaine trade: Witness the recent
Ghostface album "Fishscale," which explored the topic with the eye for
detail seen in a great pulp-fiction novelist. That disc is a cautionary
tale, however, while "Port of Miami" is all about celebrating the mounds of
cold, hard green produced by those piles of soul-stealing white powder.
In tracks such as "Blow," "Street Life," "Push It" and "I'm Bad," the
titles sort of say it all, and Ross adds nothing we haven't heard a million
times before from other chest-thumping rappers out to portray themselves as
the toughest hood since Al Pacino's "Scarface." They always seem to forget
what happened to Tony Montana in the end, though, or the fact that Brian De
Palma's movie basically stands as camp today.
And as appealing as his bottom-heavy grooves and even heavier rapping is,
Ross' act gets old fast.