Rick Ross is the type of guy who is a walking advertisement for hip hop music. Self-appointed, that is. I am not sure that hip hop wants this guy representing it but the genre seems to have no say in the matter. He lives large and gangster-like plus wants everyone to know about it. No false sense of bravado with this man as he is totally upfront with his enjoyment of bling, cars, cash, drugs and ladies. He wants you to believe in his power and as such feed it. Now, that is all about the man (or his image) himself whereas Mastermind is his latest release. On his sixth studio release he is attempting to change direction completely and wants us to believe he is all substance and about the music now rather than reputation and superficial style. Rick Ross is attempting to go all serious musician on us, folks! Your first question after reading that I’m sure is “Is he successful?” The short answer is no not completely, but it is still a worthwhile listen because hey, it is Rick Ross. You can see (a well-known artist providing the cover shot) and hear his efforts to become legit. Those moments are great. For instance, the album’s best track is “Sanctified” and features gospel singer Betty Wright doing her thang and Kanye West doing what he does often and best – rapping about himself. It is tight, relevant and then devolves into the man himself talking about oral sex and clothes. He is on the right path just allows himself to be distracted occasionally…okay, a lot. Give the guy a chance though as he has to work through five albums of bad habits to complete the transformation from gangster to artist. He ain’t going away so you might as well settle in for more bragging and boasting before it becomes completely about the music.