|1. Pray For Us|
|3. 3 Kings ft. Dr. Dre & Jay - Z|
|5. Maybach Music IV ft. Ne - Yo|
|6. Sixteen ft. Andre 3000|
|8. Hold Me Back|
|10. So Sophisticated ft. Meek Mill|
|11. Presidential ft. Elijah Burke|
|12. Ice Cold ft. Omarion|
|13. Touch N' You ft. Usher|
|14. Diced Pineapples ft. Wale & Drake|
|15. Ten Jesus Pieces ft. Stalley|
God Forgives, I Don’t, his fifth album proper, represents a game-changer. A UK top 10 hit, it has engaged with a newly receptive public. Whether they’re turned on by Ross or his impressive roster of collaborators – Dr Dre, Jay-Z, Drake and Ne-Yo amongst them – matters not, as this is the Florida rapper’s bona-fide international breakthrough.
God Forgives finds its headliner on typical balls-and-braggadocio form – but the numbers concerned with the acquisition and exhibition of wealth are fairly forgettable. 911 is a tired celebration, via some shady vocational activities, of the titular motor; and near-sound-alike Hold Me Back is an aggressive but hollow rant about people Ross doesn’t like much.
Slower cuts can lack standout qualities: Touch ‘n You, with Usher, is a forgettable piece about impressing a lady with money and cars, and Drake snoozes through the soggy Diced Pineapples. But there are plenty of reasons why this set’s been well received critically – its first half contains some of the brightest mainstream hip hop of 2012.
3 Kings is a brilliant track where Ross’ rhymes are topped and tailed by turns from Dr Dre and Jay-Z – impressively, Ross holds his own beside two greats. Jay-Z is particularly imperial, references to several-zeros deals backed by the reality of the empire he’s built – an empire that Ross has done much to emulate.
Ross is no Jay-Z yet – and nor is he today’s Notorious B.I.G., who he carefully compares himself to on Pirates. But he’s rising, still, and God Forgives’ best moments – Ashamed, Ten Jesus Pieces, Amsterdam, the André 3000-starring Sixteen – are fine examples of how big-budget rap can skilfully avoid crass clichés, and even convey no little emotion. These tracks point to further success, and perhaps a UK chart-topper in album six.
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