Rick Ross: The Undisputed Feature Killer

Rick Ross hosts the Rick Ross and Mr. Brainwash “Rather You Than Me” Album Listening Experience on March 8, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Johnny Nunez/WireImage)


The feature spot has been lucrative for Hip-Hop artists since Run DMC utilized Aerosmith to turn “Walk This Way” into a global smash. It can often be seen as a “cheat code” in many ways. For up-and-coming rappers, feature spots help scale up their fanbase while major artists can use calculated features to stay relevant and warrant buzz for an album drop. Either way, it’s almost impossible for an MC to see their career expand without doing a feature.

Rick Ross

Every MC worth the salt in their sweat has unleashed a showstopper once or twice in their career. Scarface on Tupac’s “Smile”, Snoop on “Nuthin’ But A G Thang”, Nicki Minaj on “Monster” are just a few that lit up the culture. So when we take a step back and look at each rapper’s resume in regard to features, Rick Ross’ is arguably the most impressive.

What makes his body count so stunning isn’t just the sheer volume but the fact he gets sharper, more ferocious with age. While other MC’s may go on a hot run for a couple of years before they tinker out or pop up every leap year (looking at you Andre 3000), Ricky has the endurance of a marathon athlete. Port of Miami dropped in 2006 and Ross killed features since DJ Khaled’s We The Best.  This past month, he continued to demonstrate this unmatched talent on Drakes “Money in the Grave”.

Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for NARAS)

Rick Ross is criminally overlooked and often left out of conversations as one of the greats of this era.  Pound for pound, Ross can flex with the best of them.  It’s only out of respect for the Boss that we acknowledge this and celebrate some key features of his career.

Hot Commodity (Still Da Baddest, Trina)

One of the smoothest verses Ross has ever dropped.  This was back in ’08 when Ross was still friends with Noreaga and pushing more coke than Asa Griggs Chandler.  So when Ricky flowed with a bounce reminiscent of Big Pun on “I’m Not A Player” and bigged up his woman with unflinching pride, it was the first glimpse that the man possessed more than drug-fueled dreams.  In retrospect, the verse may not be quite as impressive to his most recent work but it serves as a clear reminder of his longevity.

Cocaine (Underground Kingz, UGK)

Ross and cocaine are the peanut butter and jelly of Hip-Hop. On UGK’s near-masterpiece, Ross has the time of his life with “living legends” (RIP Pimp C) as he lost himself in delusions of white powder grandeur.  Unapologetic but executed so perfectly, one could confuse Ricky for a long lost member of UGK.

John (Tha Carter IV, Lil Wayne)

This song is an example of what happens when you don’t keep a tight leash on Ross. He was given the chorus (an interpolation of  “I’m Not A Star”) and two verses to spit on a terror-inducing beat.   The end result was Ricky Debo’ing Wayne into a feature on his own song.  This performance truly solidified Ross as an equal to his peers and put away any lingering doubt that he was nothing more than a phase in Hip-Hop.

Lord Knows (Take Care, Drake)

This one was a perfect storm for the Boss. Fresh off a feature with the biggest rapper in the world (Lil Wayne, “John”), he now had a spot with the fastest rising rapper in the world. This was also Drake’s highly-anticipated sophomore effort which put Ross on a global platform once again. In stark contrast to “John”, Ross delivered a verse that was lucrative, introspective, and raw.  He didn’t overstay his welcome but added an affirmative completion to the song.

Accident Murderers (Life Is Good, Nas)

The Boss was never afraid to rub elbows with living legends and in many ways placed himself as an equal among them.  On “Accident Murderers”, he makes a compelling case for that belief as he runs stride for stride with Nas on this No I.D. produced stand-out cut. Ross puts the cinematic instrumental in a chokehold and drags it across the concrete, spitting a fantastical memoir at neck-breaking speed.

Devil In A New Dress (My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Kanye West)

It’s one thing to land a feature on the Sgt. Pepper of Hip-Hop albums.  It’s another to deliver a verse that virtually epitomizes the very essence of said album.  This was his milestone verse, the one that forced everyone to recognize his talent.  Ross embodied the luxury and hedonism of the dark fantasy to its maximum potential. It’s impossible to even fathom the song or the album itself without Ross’ contribution.

Who Do We Think We Are (Love in the Future, John Legend)

An MC’s true measure of skill is highlighted when they’re placed outside their comfort zone.  Ross and R&B shouldn’t be winning formula, yet he turned it into a powerhouse combination.  The Boss’ bassy voice perfectly compliments Legend’s sentimental croons as he delivers luxury rap with a romantic edge. The man himself summed it up best, “Bon voyage, left haters in the fog. Look up in the sky, bet you recognize a boss”.

Knotty Head (Imperial, Denzel Curry)

Rick Ross has always been proud of his hometown of Carol City, Florida.  So it was no surprise that he was in full support of Carol City newcomer Denzel Curry.   Ross was ten years deep in the game at this point but the hunger and energy he brought to Curry’s song unprecedented.  Ricky painted a vivid portrait of the wild, violent, and ambitious nature of Carol City gangbanging.


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