Rick Ross Thrives With His Super Friends on Port of Miami 2
Rick Ross is leaving his mark on hip-hop on Port of Miami 2, the sequel to his debut album.
The sequel album in hip-hop is the ultimate discography builder. Despite the twists and turns between prequel and sequel — changes in labels, monumental family events, getting outed as a former male stripper (no shame, by the way) — the second coming is a chance to remind fans why they bought into a given rapper in the first place. Lil Wayne’s Tha Carter II offered listeners deeper bars, dragged through Wayne’s fragility and taped up by his Louisiana machismo. The Game’s Documentary 2, a double album, vaulted him back to the forefront of west coast rap that he had helped jumpstart after the death of 2Pac and disappearance of Dr. Dre. Even Raekwon’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… Pt. II, released 15 years after the original, successfully re-imagined the pitch-black alley life that one of the Wu’s finest captured in his debut album.
Rick Ross’ Port of Miami 2, released on August 9, 2019, 13 years after the original, is just as derivative. Port of Miami introduced hip-hop to Ross, then a relatively unknown talent signed to Miami-based Slip-N-Slide Records. Miami never had much mass appeal with rappers. Trick Daddy regularly earned praise in and out of Florida communities (“Trick love the kids!”) and Uncle Luke successfully demonstrated Miami’s debauchery on an international level, but the average rap fan — the ones concerned with Billboard charts and Grammy nominations — didn’t have a figure to latch onto.
Enter Ross, his massive Carol City Cartel chains glistening around his neck and his thunderous voice primed to hijack the radio waves. Port of Miami was a titanic hit, its success owed in part to the replayability of “Hustlin,” “Push It” and their remixes. The other part of the album’s success was its seamless integration of Ross’ Miami colleagues and his super star friends. The track list jumped from major features, like Miami based super producing duo Cool & Dre, DJ Khaled and Miami transplant Lil Wayne, to rubbing shoulders with Florida’s up-and-comers Briscoe, Triple C’s and Rodney. Add in a dash of rap game savant Jay-Z, most popular dope boy Jeezy and R&B stud Akon, and Port of Miami captured Ross’ greatest attribute: limitless ambition.
Ross flitted between appearances with all off his guests, so much so that it’s become the hallmark of his career. Ross’ knack for assimilation both deepened his discography and his rolodex — he has called in favors from voices like Betty Wright and minds like Kanye West, all while creating his own untouchable collective through his Maybach Music Group imprint. All of this adds to Ross’ persona — an invincible drug kingpin and lavish life liver — and in turn, sells his records, by creating a fantasy land in which no fancy is too outlandish.
That was true on Port of Miami and is equally so on Port of Miami 2. Ross’ first album since 2017s Rather You Than Me, Port of Miami 2 is as extravagant as it is philanthropic. He’s kept the list of features tailored to his group of super friends — the ones who will allow him to flex the hardest and most importantly, won’t show him up. Maybach Music products Wale (“Act a Fool”), Gunplay (“Nobody’s Favorite”) and Meek Mill (“Bogus Charms”) keep Ross grounded in his roots, while frequent collaborators John Legend (“Maybach Music VI”), Drake (“Gold Roses”) and Swizz Beatz (“BIG TYME”) continue to fuel Ross’ air of opulence.
Port of Miami 2 becomes even more powerful in the face of Ross’ last few years. A bout with seizures and the resulting hospitalization laid the groundwork for a true return to form. “I be stackin’ my tickets, I’m tryna sit with Hov’,” Ross raps on “BIG TYME,” a reminder of his near-insatiable goals. Like Hov, Wayne, Nas or any of his contemporaries have already accomplished, Port of Miami 2 is Rick Ross’ play at etching his name in the hip-hop almanac. It’s a reminder that even 13 years in, Ross’ name isn’t one to be taken lightly.