Rick Ross’s ambitions extend beyond regional boundaries. When he was assembling the acts for Maybach Music Group, his Warner Music Group subsidiary, he cast his net wide, scouting talent in various cities, doing his research, looking for signs of stardom, before finding the three young MCs who have helped make the label’s first official release, Self Made, Vol. 1, into a No. 1 hit on Billboard’s rap albums chart. The three are Wale, from Washington, D.C.; Pill, out of Atlanta; and Meek Mill, from Philadelphia, whose blistering “Ima Boss” is nipping at DJ Khaled’s “I’m on One” for hip-hop’s banger-of-the-summer status.
They all had acumen, strong local followings and success on the mixtape circuit or with viral videos. And they had all been on the cover of XXL, chosen as up-and-comers for the annual Freshmen issue: Wale in 2009, Pill in 2010, Meek this year. Wale released his first album, Attention Deficit, on Interscope Records in 2009. But it flopped, and he looks at MMG as a shot at redemption. Pill and Meek are working on their own solo albums. And touring and traveling for promo spots keeps them all hustling.
Despite their hectic schedules, there’s a relaxedness when they are together that speaks to a strong kinship. The crew has coalesced and, with the support of the label’s other acts, made MMG a force to be reckoned with. The three sat down recently for a roundtable discussion about where they’re at and where they’re going.—Jayson Rodriguez
XXL: So what’s the identity of Maybach as a crew? Bad Boy was about the Champagne life, Roc-A-Fella Records was the hustlers, No Limit Records was Dirty South. You guys are…?
PILL: It’s, like, a coalition almost.
MEEK: It’s, like, all around the board. We come from under that shit, so it’s, like, everything all in one now. Whenever I do interviews, I always say my style is like a Beans mixed with a Cassidy mixed with a Young Chris—
WALE: Mixed with a nigga from the South, too.
MEEK: Yeah, them niggas, too. Is that the strength of the crew, having different elements based on the different regions you all represent?
MEEK: We barely see each other, man. We barely even talk. We gonna keep it all the way real. Do we see each other?
PILL: We usually be on the road.
MEEK: I see Pill in the basement of a party in the A. But we do what we do, getting to the money.
PILL: Exactly. But I think it’s a plus that everybody got their own fan base, they got their own thing rocking in their own city, and they got their own representation of what they stand for. So when everyone comes together, that’s all the fan bases combined. It’s amazing what different cities combined—Miami, Philly, D.C., and New York, with Torch and Triple C’s—it’s a blessing to be able to rock with a bunch of different guys that are passionate about the craft and that know where they going and actually can foresee the future, when it comes to their music. I think that gives us a stronghold and a bit of longevity. And kind of an advantage also.
How would you describe each other’s role in the crew? Who’s Pill?
MEEK: Pill, to me, he’s the deep nigga, the OG nigga, the trap nigga. You know, if you gonna go hang on the block, come to Atlanta, I expect Pill to take me around, get me some nice hood bitches and do what we do.
WALE: To me, Pill is that cousin you got from the South that’s just country as shit. You gonna feel like you live in Atlanta if you hang with him for 30 minutes. He knows what bitches got pregnant or who got shot. He’s, like, the street poet.
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