When it comes to Maryland rapper Phil Ade's fourth mixtape, 'R.O.S.E.,' there are a few things one can say. First off, the guy can rap, plain and simple. He has pretty strong wordplay and can successfully bend words and force them to rhyme.

Plus, he's able to quickly change up his flow when the track calls for it, which is an important skill to have if you want to be on the right side of MC-ing. At least that's what some people might say.

However, not all good rappers are able to pull off good mixtapes, just like all good mixtapes don't contain a strong lyrical performance, and in Ade's case, it seems he's right on the threshold of making a very strong release, but this one falls just a little short. The project isn't weak by any means, but 'R.O.S.E.' doesn't seem to capture the rapper's full potential. But there are some good parts.

It seems that 'R.O.S.E.' needed to be created by Ade, so he could continue to learn what works for him and what doesn't, which could be a very difficult thing to determine.

On the 17-track release, Ade spits passionate rhymes about striving for his dreams, materialism and his dealings with the opposite sex. Most of his verses come off pretty sincere -- you believe what he writes and spits.

In Ade's case, he's done a good job of showing a devotion to the craft of rhyming, especially in songs like the Sunny Norway-produced '2AM' featuring Bun B. In the uptempo sample-driven cut, the Maryland spitter raps over a chaotic, but catchy track with a good amount of confidence and well-controlled fury.

"I'm a major pain, in the neck get them wet like Navy trainin' / In the back, he think she's being a fan / Well I think she the next one to be in the van," Ade spits.

And on 'Big Mistake,' one of 'R.O.S.E.'s stronger cuts, Ade talks about breaking up with his girl because of groupies and speaks about choosing a rap career over higher education.

"All I can do is move on / All this from a church boy who moved out and got too gone / Getting over with no father figure what's a n---- supposed to do / Go to college or get money, best believe that I chose the loot," Ade raps over bottom-heavy production, also created by Sunny Norway.

Refreshingly, Ade chooses to mix in a little vulnerability with his I'm-flyer-than-you rhyme approach, which works most of the time.

But the not-so-great parts of 'R.O.S.E' come from the lack of variety in subject matter, because half of the songs are devoted to women and relationships. So by the third time you hear him talk about being with a girl or leaving her, you're like, "Enough already. I just want to hear the guy spit something hard."

And another problem with 'R.O.S.E' is that Ade sounds too much like Drake. It doesn't sound like he's trying to do this on purpose, but it still takes away from his overall message. It's something he'll definitely have to work on if he wants to carve his own lane.

Simply put, 'R.O.S.E' shows that Ade has plenty of talent and he's probably right around the corner from putting out a compelling piece of work. But before he can do that, he'll need to carve out his own delivery style and begin focusing on songs with a variety of subject matter.


Listen to Phil Ade's 'R.O.S.E.' Mixtape