A change of labels and an almost entirely different set of producers aside, Rather You Than Me is business as usual for Rick Ross. Armed with a streak of eight Top Ten full-lengths, the rapper moves from Def Jam to Epic for album number nine, backed by a mix of old and new beatmaking associates -- and more featured guests than tracks -- with only a handful of Black Market holdovers on one cut each. Just after the release of Black Market, Ross broke a lengthy crossover-hit dry spell with "Purple Lamborghini," his and Skrillex's unlikely if predictably blaring soundclash for the Suicide Squad soundtrack, but this largely picks up where Ross' full-length discography left off. Trap productions switch between sleek and low profile to blaring and riotous, tempered with a batch of comparatively elegant, soul-dipped tracks, highlighted by a trio handled by old ally Bink and a C Gutta (aka Lil' C) flip of the Stylistics' "People Make the World Go Round." Ross' vainglorious pronouncements are broken up by reflective, sometimes pro-black moments with slightly greater frequency. Some conflicts are resolved while others intensify, as on "Idols Become Rivals," where Ross gets Chris Rock, the comedian he once vengefully called a cornball, to effusively introduce a ruthless diss track directed at Birdman. Just as noticeably, on the Raphael Saadiq-assisted opener "Apple of My Eye," Ross softens a stance that previously placed him in the far-right radar: "I'm happy Donald Trump became president, because we gotta destroy before we elevate." For some listeners, this album is just as likely to be known as the one on which Ross compares himself to assassinated Black Panther leader Fred Hampton (one verse away from "Fuckin' centerfolds like I still be dealin' dope"). Ross' mixtures of outrageous fantasy and sobering reality, side-splitting humor, and piercing vengeance, are intermittently as potent as ever.
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AllMusic Review by Andy Kellman