For all the criticism thrown at Rick Ross' debut -- redundant, nothing new, by the numbers gangsta music, and so on -- the man himself had little reason to reconsider after the album climbed to the top of the charts. Add up his guest appearances and mixtapes and he's a walking bankroll, so it shouldn't be too surprising that his style and attitude toward the album format has changed little on his sophomore release, Trilla. For Ross, the full-length is a place to hold the singles -- big, slick, and grand singles that are hard, hypnotic, and just what's needed to get a gangsta party started. Even if initial single "Speedin'" didn't dominate the way he would have hoped, the follow-up anthem "The Boss" and the sleazy "Money Make Me Come" are killer, the latter being especially infectious and extra shameless. The rest of the album survives thanks to its production, with everyone from Drumma Boy to Mannie Fresh offering exciting trunk rumblers. Special mention goes to the J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League, who helm three tracks, including the soulful "Luxury Tax" with Lil Wayne, Young Jeezy, and Trick Daddy. The huge guest list is also a plus since Ross would have a hard time carrying this album on his own, but when surrounded by talent he pushes a little harder and comes up with a handful of rhymes that aren't tired or clichéd. While Trilla might not earn this Boss any more respect, he's got the single and collaboration game on lock, and when his greatest-hits album rolls around, it'll be a monster.
by David Jeffries