Rick Ross aka Renzel aka Rozzay aka The Biggest Boss That You’ve Seen Thus Far has to be on one of the most prolific rappers of the last decade. Since he stepped into the game with certified classic and trapper’s national anthem ‘Hustlin’, he’s been a mainstay and tastemaker of the hip-hop genre. With an unarguable presence, not many rapper in the last ten years can compare to Ross, especially in terms of his influence, his ambition and his ability to stay relevant this deep into his incumbency as The Boss. Aside from the aforementioned Renzel has also kept something else running throughout his tenure too – the Maybach Music songs, on each of his most acclaimed bodies of work. He’s used the series as a platform to not only shine but to draw creativity and talent from some of his contemporaries too, to great affect. To date there has been five of them and each one has a case to be the best of the bunch. With that said, let’s rank these cuts to see which one stands above the rest:
5. Maybach Music V (feat. Dej Loaf)
Maybach Music V or Five aptly comes in fifth place. This is the latest offering in the Maybach Music pentalogy and although it places last on our list, it doesn’t disappoint. Due to the timing of the release of Rozzay’s latest album Rather You Than Me (RYTM) coinciding with Drake’s More Life project, both RYTM Maybach Music V kinda got lost in the noise for me. It’s still an impressive and epic song and, most importantly, a welcome addition to the collection but doesn’t stick in the same way as the rest of them do. It’s still early days and the song is only a couple of months old so who knows, if we redo this list in a couple of years time, when Maybach Music VI drops, you could see this climb up the ranks but for now it has not surpassed it’s predecessors. It does feature a really solid contribution by Dej Loaf, which was a pleasant surprise, and uncredited vocals from Katt Rockell to add to the typical cinematic feel of the Maybach Music songs so it’s a solid effort with, solid features and solid production but it does leave me wanting a bit more – given how the others were delivered.
4. Maybach Music III (feat. T.I., Jadakiss & Erykah Badu)
Next on our list is Maybach Music III. Following a similar pattern to all of the entries on this list, this song is a grand event on the album that it features on – Teflon Don. With such heavy hitters on the album like Tears of Joy (w/Cee Lo Green), Aston Martin Music (w/ Chrisette Michelle and Drake) and the anthem of that year B.M.F. (w/ Styles P), it’s difficult to be the standout track on probably his best album. Slotting in between Tears of Joy and Live Fast Die Young, MMIII doesn’t feel out of place at all and acts as a great bridge between the two concepts discussed within it’s neighbours. It wouldn’t be fair if Ross used Styles P for B.M.F. and did not allow fellow LOX member ‘Kiss an opportunity to shine too. Add T.I. and Ross, who probably delivered my favourite verse on the song and one of the best on the album as a whole (which is an unbelievable accomplishment, considering the company kept on both) all three take in turns to paint a picture of what Maybachs mean to them, with different but cohesive results. Almost forgot to mention that Queen Badu dresses the song with her velvety tone throughout. It’s a classic song, on a classic album, however it’s the 4th best Maybach Music song because….
3. Maybach Music IV (feat. Ne-Yo)
The one with Ne-Yo is undoubtedly the 3rd. I remember the first time I listened to this song, off of God Forgives, I Don’t, I was instantly engaged. The electric guitar riff at the beginning draws you in before the drums hit and Rozzay hollers “Yeah, such a breath of fresh air, get a blowjob have a seizure on a lear…” and you’re enticed to listen further. Unlike the other songs on this list, the only person rapping on this song is Rick Ross and that’s probably a purposeful decision. He already had one of the verses of the year from Andre 3000 on ‘Sixteen’ so one can only assume that Renzel wanted to flex his lyrical muscles, same way! He does, and the outcome is magnificent. If it couldn’t get any better than Ross’s bars, add Ne-yo to the equation and you have a sonic dream. Ne-yo sounds just like the late great Michael Jackson and again I wouldn’t be surprised if he was asked to emulate his idol to produce on of his best ever features. With long time Maybach Music collaborators J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League composing this orchestra infused beat, Renzel produces one of his most complete verses and songs. Full stop.
2. Maybach Music (feat. Jay-Z)
“…this Maybach music, the realest shit I wrote”. Where it all began! It was a serious toss up between this and the eventual list topper and, to be honest, on another day I could have swapped them round. This being said, the wind has blown and this is the second best iteration of the Maybach Music pentalogy. Like it’s successors (apart from MMV) J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League set the tone beautifully for, a then fledgling, Rick Ross to deliver his Trilla ‘magnum opus’. Accompanied by one of the greatest rapper ever, Shawn Jay-Z Carter, Ross delivers a near perfect cut that i’m still bumping 9 years on…and counting. Everything about this particular song is epic, from the lyrics, to the production, to the delivery from both HOV and Renzel. This is the song that inspired the entire Maybach Music series. The pair trade-off braggadocios bars about a life that most of us will never ever lead but that’s what makes this song so great. It allows you to live vicariously through the eyes of two of the rap games most polarising stars…if only for a brief 4mins.
1. Maybach Music II (feat. Kanye West, Lil Wayne & T-Pain)
It gets no better than this…Maybach Roman numeral two. (Disclaimer, long winded analogy pending, but stay with me). Today the NBA is filled with super teams and none has been more potent or successful than the Golden State Warriors. Four top 15 players, all in their prime, in one team, seems a bit unfair right. Now lets apply that same concept to hip-hop and, in particular, this standout from Deeper That the Rap. Four artists, all at the peak of their powers coming together to deliver a championship level performance. Ye was half way between 808 and Heartbreaks & My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, both regarded as some of his most creatively expansive bodies of work – the latter widely regarded as his best album to date, and one of the best albums of the past couple of decades. Weezy F Baby (please say the Baby) was still the best rapper alive fresh off the back of Tha Carter 3 – widely regarded as the best rap album of the past decade, at the time. And T-Pain was to the mid-late 00’s, what R-Kelly was to the mid-late 90’s – the hook killer and hitmaker. And then you add Rick Ross. With two solid projects under his belts and a number of songs circulating on the radio and beyond, Renzel was on the cusp of hip-hop superstardom. This song was so important as it drew together rappers that should have all been rivals and demonstrated that there was and is still space for creative collaboration in one of the most egocentric genres of music. At the time when all of these individuals were making, arguably, their best music means it’s hard not to rank this as the best song from the Maybach Music series.