RICK ROSS at THE GUVERNMENT, Sunday, June 15. Rating: N
What happens when the boss is late for work? He gets fired.
Toronto ran out of patience for Florida rapper Rick Ross, who arrived on stage nearly 90 minutes past his scheduled 11 p.m. set time only to succeed in transforming irate booing into indifferent silence by the end of his blessedly short 45-minute set.
Let's face it: a certain amount of lateness is expected when a big star is on the bill. But Rick Ross did not act like a star. A star does not charge $65 and decorate a stage with cardboard in-store displays advertising an album release date more than three months old. A star does not spend more time snapping cellphone pictures than rapping. A star does not close his set by plugging his label signee's shrill, auto-tuned single (Meek Mill's I Don't Know) while hawking sparkling wine (Belaire Rose) and imploring "Go get my shit" before walking off stage to dead silence.
Initially, it seemed Ross' glimmering gold presence was enough to quell the restless crowd. An opening volley of bangers like BMF, Ima Boss and Bugatti sent the frat boys pogoing into the rafters but it quickly became apparent the set was going nowhere.
After rapping the first verse, he would hang back and expect the audience to rap along to the guest features (they didn't). He cut short more popular songs such as Stay Schemin' only to dial down the mood with introspective newer ones such as Diced Pineapples and Thug Cry. Eventually, even the women dancing on the speakers stopped reacting audibly.
On Mastermind, Ross showcased more vulnerability and idiosyncratic production alongside his usual hard-hitting Southern bass and Mafioso braggadocio. Ironically, his attempt to show his more meaningful side to an impatient 1 a.m. club crowd only emphasized his obliviousness. Ross is more compelling in the studio than on the stage because you can't see him for what he is: a gifted rapper whose image has become a crutch.