Rick Ross

Port of Miami (Def Jam)

Rick Ross
With his shades, grizzly-bear flow, and 300-pound girth, Miami MC Rick Ross has become one of the most imposing figures in the hip-hop industry -- and that's before his first major-label release even hit the streets. If you thought 50 Cent was brash as a rookie, this coke-dealer-turned-MC has set the new gold standard, bullying his way into rap's inner circle via the massive summer single "Hustlin'," which unrepentantly celebrates Ross' career slinging cane, and the follow-up, "Blow," an amoral ode to bling ("Mo' cars, mo' clothes . . . mo' dough to blow!") in its purest, rawest form.

Like Fiddy, Ross is less a rhymer than a forceful personality. His simple-minded verses -- see, "I'm A G," "Where My Money," and other self-explanatory titles -- get over solely via a malignant charisma that makes his Scarface fixation appropriate. But combined with molasses-slow production from Cool & Dre, southern stalwart Jazze Pha, and others, Port of Miami oozes laid-back, late-night menace that succeeds spectacularly in its limited aim: dragging the dark side of sunny Florida into the spotlight.

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