God Forgives, I Don’t

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Adam R. Holz

Album Review

If Quentin Tarantino or Martin Scorsese were rappers, what would their music sound like? Miami’s Rick Ross thinks he knows, setting up those two filmmakers as models for his fifth album, God Forgives, I Don’t.

At a press conference on tour in France, Ross said, “I wanted to approach [this album] like Scorsese would have approached a film. I wanted it to be a bold statement, a dark statement and have music to tell the story behind it.” In an interview with MTV, he added, “This may be Inglourious Basterds, man. We gonna peel your scalp back on this one. Quentin Tarantino, that’s one of the vibes I was in when I titled the album. I wanted to approach it like a film.”

Indeed, God Forgives, I Don’t covers plenty of narrative ground, from tales of desperate hustling and drug dealing to chillin’ in the driver’s seat of a Maybach or a front-row, $20K seat at a Miami Heat game. It also, like most Scorsese and Tarantino films, comes drenched in R-rated content.

Pro-Social Content

Ross recognizes his need for forgiveness on “Pray for Us”: “Dear Lord/Please forgive us for all the sins we have brought upon us.” “Ashamed” expresses regret for being a “d-boy,” a drug dealer, and admits, “All the money in the world can’t take this pain away.” We get a glimpse of tenderness on “Amsterdam,” as Ross raps, “I wanna be there when each one of my kids born.” “Ten Jesus Pieces” asks for prayer and talks about wearing ten crosses (the “Jesus pieces”) simultaneously.

Objectionable Content

It’s up for grabs which bad behavior gets the most “screen time” in Ross’ “movie”: having sex, smoking marijuana, selling drugs, threatening rivals or spitting obscene language. And as for the final, cumulative tally, there’s as much or maybe even more of these things here than you’d find in Pulp Fiction. Here’s a small but representative sampling:

“3 Kings” finds guest contributor Dr. Dre mingling bravado, bling, drugs references and violence: “Great weed, nice homes, bread proper/TEC-9, long chamber, top shotta/Bentley coupe, new yacht, my helicopter/Born broke, real n-gga, straight outta Compton.” Ross echoes those elements in the next verse as he talks about having been a drug dealer (“I came a long way from the weed game”) and carrying (he claims) a gun when he goes to Miami Heat games (“Twenty-stack seats at the Heat game/And I’m still strapped with the heat, man”). Drug dealing and drug using continue on “Ashamed,” where we hear, “I’m smoking psychedelics, I hustle like a felon/ … First I stack some money, then go to war with them boys/ … Better ring the alarm, ’cause we bringing them pistols.” “Ice Cold” says starkly, “Remember, God forgives and them triggers don’t.”

“Maybach Music IV” includes multiple references to oral sex, as does “Diced Pineapples,” a foul, borderline pornographic song which graphically describes combining that fruit and sex. Sex-obsessed “Touch’n You” finds guest Usher singing fondly about “f‑‑‑in’ you” 10 times in each chorus, which is repeated five or six times in the song. Throughout the album, we hear lewd, descriptive references to both the male and female anatomy, including how they smell and taste.

“Maybach Music IV” also includes this jaw-droppingly insensitive and inappropriate comparison: “N-ggas get abused like boys at Penn State.” F-words, s-words and references to women as “b‑‑ches” turn up on most tracks. “Pirates” casually rhymes “Porsche” and “abortion.”

Summary Advisory

God Forgives, I Don’t praises God’s willingness to forgive—then promptly perverts His longsuffering patience and generosity by suggesting forgiveness is a virtue a streetwise hustler can’t afford.

“God forgives, I don’t,” Ross raps on “911,” “In other words, retaliation is a must.” And on “Ten Jesus Pieces,” we hear, “God forgives, He’s so honorable/But living amongst thieves and n-ggas like myself/You will not have that luxury.” Ross admires God’s character even as he stubbornly insists he’ll probably stay lost: “Show us the way,” he asks at the conclusion of “Pray for Us,” “And if You can’t show us the way/Then forgive us for being lost.”

However you care to define lostness, there’s loads of it in this darkly cinematic album.

Adam Holz, Director of Plugged In
Adam R. Holz

After serving as an associate editor at NavPress’ Discipleship Journal and consulting editor for Current Thoughts and Trends, Adam now oversees the editing and publishing of Plugged In’s reviews.

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