Rick Ross is a mastermind. After all, he is credited as the executive producer in all caps. With every release under his MMG umbrella, it’s Rozay – not his plethora of artists – who has a keen sense of musical chemistry with certain acts. In turn, it reflects upon the members of his team, who push the envelope in their rhymes and sonic direction. The imprint is on volume three of their Self Made series, which is emerging as hip-hop’s standard of compilation projects. As usual, Ross brings artists from different spectrums of rap–Gunplay alongside Rockie Fresh, for example–for the album. That’s enough of a statement to show Self Made Vol. 3, due out on September 17, is another event waiting to happen.
The album is meant to showcase the upcoming talent in MMG’s roster. One of the better cuts from last year’s Vol. 2 was “Power Circle” that featured every member delivering excellent verses and shined a light on Gunplay. Continuing in that same tradition, Vol. 3 opens with “Lil Snupe (Intro),” an ode to the 18-year-old late Baton Rouge rapper who was a promising artist on Meek Mill’s Dream Chasers label. Over hard piano keys, the track takes portions of Snupe’s “Happy I Made It” and repurposes it with lines such as “I finally made it out the gutter/Made a way my momma and granny don’t gotta struggle” and “I’m the product of the Boot/Free that nigga Boosie Boo.” The album’s other highlights—aside from Gunplay’s “Gallardo” and Meek Mill’s “Levels” singles (which the latter created a new slang for moving up)—is Ross’ “Lay It Down.” Saluting another Louisiana legend, Ross unearths an unreleased Lil Boosie verse that was pre-recorded before his incarceration. What will most likely garner attention, though, is Ross putting a “100 grand” on Trayvon Martin’s killer. Never afraid to cause controversy, that one.
Still, the second half of Vol. 3 feels like similar territory in supplying fans with anthems that may or may not have been on various solo projects. However, the difference is Rozay and A&R Dallas Martin spotlight the label’s young talent, leaving little doubts for MCs like Rockie Fresh and Stalley. On “Black Grammys,” the soulful soundscape embodies Wale’s #NewBlackSoul with everyone serving some of their best verses (Cole even states he wrote his on the spot.) Ross opens up with “if Michael Jackson was still alive, he’d want us to smoke one for him,” a recycled line from “Power Circle” presumably to reinstate his point. Fresh and Hit-Boy are aggressive on the ‘90s-sounding “What Ya Used To” and Stalley’s penchant for storytelling delivers on “Coupes & Roses.”
Self Made Vol. 3 rounds out with a few more posse cuts worth noting. Once again, Gunplay proves he’s a painter of pictures (“AKs keep me in a safe space”) in “The Great Americans,” while “Kilo” is an amped up version of any of French Montana’s collaborative efforts on Mac And Cheese 3. The best is saved for the end as stated in the liner notes—Ric Flair appears on a Maybach record with his classic rant. “Bout That Life” grows in intensity as Flair’s vocal starts the song off and the rest is dedicated to living lavish.
At this point, MMG has established Wale, Meek Mill and Gunplay as legitimate solo artists. The tape is designed to demonstrate that Ross can mold new protégés into rap’s next stars, helping them grow into mature artists with stronger songwriting. With the new crop of MMG – Fresh, Stalley and ‘Play- who are all distinguishably different but have found their own lanes, Ross justifies he can be successful at that yet again.—Eric Diep (@E_Diep)
1. “Lil Snupe Intro” (Produced By Lil Lee)
2. “Gallardo” – Gunplay feat. Rick Ross & Yo Gotti (Produced By A One)
3. “The Plug” – Meek Mill feat. Omelly & Young Breed (Produced By D Rich)
4. “Levels” – Meek Mill (Produced By Cardo)
5. “Lay It Down” – Rick Ross feat. Lil Boosie & Young Breed (Produced By Schife, OhZee & Brian Nunez)
6. “Stack On My Belt” – Rick Ross feat. Wale, Whole Slab & Birdman (Produced By Beat Billionaire)
7. “Black Grammys” – Wale feat. Meek Mill, Rockie Fresh & J. Cole (Produced By Tone P)
8. “Coupes & Roses” – Stalley (Produced By Kebu & Childish Major)
9. “Know You Better” – Omarion feat. Fabolous & Pusha T (Produced By Rock City & The CoCaptains)
10. “Say Don’t Go” – Omarion (Produced By John “$K” McGee)
11. “What Ya Used To” – Rockie Fresh feat. Hit-Boy (Produced By Hit-Boy)
12. “The Great Americans” Rick Ross feat. Gunplay & Fabolous (Produced By Jake One, Co-Produced By Swish)
13. “Kilo” – Meek Mill feat. French Montana, Yo Gotti & Louie V Gutta (Produced By DJ Spinz)
14. “Poor Decisions” – Wale feat. Rick Ross & Lupe Fiasco (Produced By Jake One And Swish)
15. “Bout That Life” – Meek Mill feat. French Montana, K Kutta, Torch & Iceberg (Produced By The MeKanics)
16. “God Is Great” – Rockie Fresh (Produced By Boi 1da)