In an interview with Rolling Stone earlier this year, William Leonard Roberts II explained that he had decided that, as a gentleman of his calibre, it would no longer be appropriate for him to smoke weed with men — only attractive women. On top of that, he has personally hired a woman formerly employed at a Los Angeles dispensary to single-handedly roll all of his marijuana. That is the kind of person that Rick Ross is — and Mastermind looms over humanity as an ostentatious marble-statue homage to that being.
From a voicemail sample where an automated bank-teller voice reads out the available balance of Ross’s chequing account (it’s over $92 million, apparently), to a mid-album dialogue appropriately entitled “Dope Bitch Skit,” where a female voice says, “I don’t want to make you nervous, baby,” when asked how much she would spend in a day shopping, Mastermind paints a portrait of black America’s capitalistic utopia.
The opulence spills over onto the album’s production, too: collaborative efforts from Kanye West and DJ Mustard on “Sanctified” (including a gorgeous gospel-soul sample at the track’s outset) render it the only palatable track on the album. “All I wanted was a hundred million dollars and a bad bitch,” Big Sean laments and Mastermind is the great, gilded well wherein to deposit all of his tears. Kanye fits right in here, where the sinister undertones of sickeningly sunny braggadocio lend depth and dimension.
As it stands, Mastermind (or rather, two or three tracks from it) will continue to be bumped in the beater car I drive to a job where I scrape uneaten food off strangers’ plates. Somehow, I know I won’t be the only one.
By Andréa Rojas