FAB MUSIC: Officer Rick – Rick Ross live at the Manchester Academy

It’s currently nigh on impossible to turn on a music channel or the radio without seeing or hearing Rick Ross. The self-professed “biggest boss in the business” boasts an impressive range of collaborations reading like a who’s who in the genres of Rap and R&B. The list includes everyone from the  likes of Drake and Estelle to Lil Wayne,  Kanye West, Gucci Mane and Nicki Minaj. In this day and age rap artists come no bigger than Ricky Rozay. With three number 1 albums firmly secured under his belt, Ross cuts a formidable 300 pound frame which one would be hard pressed not to feel physically intimidated by. Since exploding onto the scene in 2006, Mr Rozay has unquestionably positioned himself as one of the few seated firmly on top of the current Rap pile.

Ross kicked off his European tour in March with a string of concerts across the mainland before rounding up last week with three UK dates. In spite of the fact that I’m not the biggest “gangsta rap” fan, I went along to the concert at Manchester Academy determined to see what all the fuss is about. Bypassing the ridiculously long queue that stretched for seemingly at least half a mile around the corner I made my way into the venue which was soon full to capacity.

The supporting DJ’s were certainly entertaining enough, working the crowd with a string of back to back bangers such as Rack City, Big Pimping and Dead Prez’s Hip Hop that had the whole venue rocking out in one synchronized fluid motion. The atmosphere was electric with anticipation as the audience waited impatiently for the main event, but the DJ’s continued to pacify the crowd by dropping yet more classic hip hop joints until the arrival of Rozay’s DJ Slick signified that the man himself was indeed ready to grace us with his imposing presence.

Image Courtesy of Miselo Kunda. www.silkphotography.co.uk

The former corrections officer stepped onto the stage around half an hour late alongside hype man Slab to rapturous applause from the testosterone fuelled crowd, before launching straight into F*ck Em which had the audience chanting along at ear-splitting levels and waving middle fingers in the air in perfect time to the beat. Rozay followed this with tracks such as Yella Diamonds before growling into the mic “A lot of people wanna know how the f*ck is Ricky Rozay the biggest boss in the business” which was the introduction to Hustlin’. If the crowd went wild when Ross first graced the stage then the best way to describe the atmosphere during Hustlin’ was a ballistic frenzy which then continued through the likes of It’s My Time and All I do is win.

The sheer energy and adulation of the fans more than compensated for Rozay’s lack of movement across the stage which was no doubt hampered by his super sized physique. The Teflon Don star kept the audience entertained during intervals, through amusing anecdotes about his rise to stardom, and with audience interaction playing a key part in sustaining the overall energy. Notable moments included encouraging fans to hold up their iPhone’s as he performed 9 Piece and his emotional introduction to I’m On One which was along the lines of “My success was not an overnight success, it feels like it took me over 10 years, so for me to stand here with my n*ggas, my team, there’s only one song that can explain how I feel.”

Image Courtesy of Miselo Kunda. www.silkphotography.co.uk

Despite the dominance of slightly post pubescent masculinity in the building, Ross did pull out  a few songs for the ladies, which included Aston Martin Music and Lotus Flower Bomb. Other notable performances included Blowin Money Fast, Holy Ghost and Rich Forever which had the crowd singing along in unison beneath an almost tangible reefer induced haze.

Ross’s hour long set was at times monotonous and littered with irksome references to his label Maybach Music, in addition to borderline repetitive beats that were all too frequently laced with the irritating sound of shattering glass. Moreover that was not enough to detract from the clear entertainment value that Ross provided. Lyrical content aside, which featured the mandatory references to money, violence and somewhat questionable sexual prowess, Rick Ross managed to deliver a highly enjoyable if not energetic performance that delighted fans and left them practically begging for more. It’s not difficult to see why Ricky Rozay is currently one of the biggest bosses in the game.

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