Directions Rick Ross Could Go With 'Mastermind'

(Radio.com) These last twelve months have been rather turbulent for Rick Ross, the imposing kingpin of the Maybach Music Group. He's been threatened by members of the Gangster Disciples street gang, cancelled a string of headlining tour dates, and survived a seemingly credible attempt on his life—on his birthday, no less. Ross later found himself accused of glorifying date rape on Rocko's "U.O.E.N.O.", ultimately losing a lucrative Reebok endorsement deal in the fallout. It's been the kind of year that would sink a lesser artist's career. But we're talking about the Teflon Don here.

Months later, the embattled emcee is apparently comfortable enough to take the MMG show on the road again, full band in tow, for a multi-city tour in the lead up to Mastermind, his sixth official LP. Following 2012's Gold-certified God Forgives, I Don't, Ross has been stingy with sharing the material with the public, with only two of its tracks—"Box Chevy" and the Future-assisted "No Games"—released so far. Coupled with his selections from this Fall's Self Made Vol. 3 compilation and recent features for artists like Ace Hood, DJ Khaled and Jay-Z, that material offers a glimpse into what Rozay plans to give his fans when the album drops on December 17. Here, then, are five possible directions that he might take on Mastermind.

1. Go For The Jugular: When you've got shooters coming at you and your girl, choppers aimed at your Rolls Royce on your birthday, the rap game pretty much demands that you go hard. While nobody in their right mind would recommend that an entertainer try and start a war with a real-life gang, Ross can still channel that anger righteously back into his music. Incredulous and vengeful, "Box Chevy" tears into more than just haters, doling out threats in his most menacing bark. Mastermind would be well served by more of that and help insulate himself from accusations of softness in the face of danger. What's more, rap fans value this type of response. 50 Cent, incidentally one of his longtime rivals, saw his star rise after being shot nine times and living to tell the tale as emboldened survivor. Rozay can score some serious points in the credibility department with a few particularly vicious bars.

2. Go Into The Light: Between gangland threats and the handful of seizures he's suffered in recent years, The Bawse has had to face his mortality arguably more than most men his age. Near-death experiences can be transformative, in both positive and negative ways. Channeling some of this raw honesty into his new work could shift perceptions about Ross, especially in the aftermath of the "U.O.E.N.O" scandal. An obvious influence, The Notorious B.I.G. fearlessly plunged into such serious subject matter on both Ready To Die and Life After Death. By confronting death in his art, he prepared himself for immortality. Given the events of this year, Ross would do well to follow that creative path. And it appears he may have done just that, as Mastermind will apparently feature a version of the gripping Biggie classic "You're Nobody." See three more possible directions he could go.

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Copyright Radio.com/CBS Local - Excerpted here with permission.

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