If rappers were stand-up comics, shopworn boasts about being musical Mafia dons would be their airplane jokes. And Rick Ross is so immersed in Scarface fetishizing and trap-king hardness that he should have mutated into a thugged-out cartoon years ago. But on his fifth album, the Miami native embodies his distorted version of the gangsta American dream so completely that he manages to transcend cliché. Call it the James Cameron approach: When all else fails, hit 'em with the IMAX.
Like Avatar, the size and scope of God Forgives, I Don't is undeniable. Ross rides every beat here as though he's cruising in a BMW, even when empty bits of bluster like ''Hold Me Back'' and ''Ice Cold'' feel more like Honda Accords. His wide-screen narratives about drug scales and deluxe yachts are easy to sell, but Ross' more casual tales like the Usher-assisted sex jam ''Touch 'N You'' and the dreamy Drake collab ''Diced Pineapples'' get the same gravitas.
The undisputed album centerpiece is ''3 Kings,'' a round-robin lyrical throwdown with Jay-Z and Dr. Dre. While Jay drops lines about contract negotiations with Live Nation and Dre hawks his line of signature headphones, Ross offers up something rawer and more immediate. Sure, he's been bragging about his rep since his 2006 debut, but God Forgives is the first album that really feels like it was made by a boss. A-Best Tracks: