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Maybach Music Group, Self Made 2

Hot crews come and go. But if the steady stream of music Maybach Music Group has been dropping over the past 12 or so months is any indication, the Rick Ross–anchored collective is poised to become the exception to that rule. The crew’s second LP in roughly a year span, Self Made 2 aims to solidify MMG as the hardest-working clique in the game, as well as to serve as an appetizer for the camp’s two highly anticipated summer releases: Rick Ross’ God Forgives, I Don’t (Def Jam Recordings) and Meek Mill’s debut album, Dreams and Nightmares (MMG/ Warner Bros.).

The disc opens with “Power Circle,” an eight-minute-long posse cut starring Ross, Gunplay, Stalley, Wale, Meek Mill and Kendrick Lamar. While Rozay played facilitator and sprinkled ad-libs on Vol. 1’s opener, here he teases with a sparse eight-bar verse: “You niggas Spud Webb, comin’ up short/Think you Dee Brown, jump if you want/I put it on my mama and her very last nerve/Ricky Madoff, everything I deserve.” And like that, Rozay’s added to his assortment of monikers.

Though MMG’s chemistry is stronger than ever, the album’s best moments occur when the squad is paired with guest MCs. Rozay and Nas continue their impeccable collaborative track record on “This Thing of Ours.” God’s Son offers up yet another thought-provoking verse, but there’s no scene-stealing. The stage is still Maybach’s. Ross’ rhymes are vintage Rick Rozay, and Wale’s verse resonates. “I’m a loose cannon, screws damaged/And I do think hip-hop music need some newer standards,” the Washington D.C. MC spits.

Later, The Bawse, Stalley and Nipsey Hu$$le sound like they’ve been recording together for years on the excellent “Fountain of Youth.” The cut will have fans campaigning for the Nipsey-to- MMG rumor to become reality. “I Be Puttin’ On,” featuring French Montana, Wiz Khalifa and Roscoe Dash, is yet another example of Maybach working wonders with frequent collaborators.

Self Made 2 comes with a few tweaks. Gone is Pill from the crew. Also absent is Teedra Moses, whose work on Vol. 1, though minimal, added cachet to the listening experience. The crew’s latest addition, R&B crooner Omarion, makes solid contributions with each appearance. Stalley, who’d just joined the MMG fold and appeared on one song on Vol. 1, rhymes on four songs this time. One thing hasn’t changed, however: Ross’ ear for instrumentals is sharp as ever. Ricky continues to tap beatsmiths (Cardiak, Harry Fraud, Beat Billionaire, etc.) capable of providing the symphonic sound that’s become synonymous with MMG. There’s a clear hierarchy in song quality throughout the album, but no skip-worthy cuts. With Self Made 2, MMG takes another step toward truly becoming untouchable. —Carl Chery (@CChery)

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