Maybach Music Group’s Self Made Vol. 3 is a heat check for Rick Ross’ label. The climate of hip-hop has been subtly shifting in the last year, with artists like Kendrick Lamar and Macklemore becoming giant stars on a commercial level. Where does Rick Ross and his ever-expanding crew of talent stand in this new climate? Is Rozay just as relevant now as he was when Self Made Vol. 1 came out in 2011? Or is this project a sign that his reign as “Bawse” is coming to an end?

The MMG lineup hasn’t changed significantly since the group’s last compilation album in 2012. That said, the newest signee for the label, Chicago’s Rockie Fresh, appears on three songs on the album, making this a formal introduction of sorts. The other key inclusions are members of Meek Mill’s Dreamchasers Records. While rappers Omelly and Louie V Gutta make contributions on the album, it’s the late Lil Snupe’s vocals that start the album off on a somber note. The Baton Rouge native, who was just 18-years old when he died, celebrates the success he had already achieved thus far and shows off the raw talent that could have made him a star had he been allowed to progress further. As the intro fades out, Rick Ross offers a final tribute, and the project really gets underway.

It’s important to remember when listening to Self Made Vol. 3 that this is a compilation rather than a cohesive album. It's a platform for members of the roster to prove that they are worth checking out, and a medium for the label to put out songs and see what catches on. Self Made Vol. 1 was propelled by songs like “Tupac Back” and “600 Benz,” singles that paved the way for Wale and Meek Mill to eventually release full-length projects. Self Made Vol. 3 includes “Levels,” the latest Meek Mill club banger that is steadily gaining momentum on the charts, and another potential big record in “Gallardo,” a Gunplay song that features an assist from Yo Gotti and the veteran Trina on the song’s vulgar chorus.

Gunplay only shows up on two songs for the project, but manages to display his range and some lyrical prowess by appearing on the up-tempo “Gallardo” and the more pensive track “The Great Americans.” Introduced by a news report of his arrest on attempted murder and robbery charges that temporarily stalled the momentum he had been generating throughout 2012, Gunplay rides the synth and piano-laced Jake One production with a subdued delivery and gets introspective about where he is in life right now. “The Great Americans” also showcases refreshing honesty from Rick Ross and Rockie Fresh, and a blistering closing verse from Fabolous, making it one of the highlights from the project.

Rockie Fresh appears three other times on Self Made Vol. 3 (and on both Best Buy Deluxe Edition songs), and his contributions tend to be some of the better records on the project. This is especially true for “What Ya Used To,” with the killer synth-based beat from Hit-Boy, who tacks on a verse at the end, and on the J. Cole-assisted “Black Grammys.” Other standout songs on the project include “Know You Better,” an Omarion record that features stellar guest appearances from Pusha T and Fabolous, and the aggressive “Lay It Down,” which features the incarcerated Lil Boosie.

But for all the highlights on the album, there are certainly some weaker moments as well. Songs like “Kilo” and “Stack On My Belt” are formulaic misses, rehashes of previous releases. Meanwhile, the project at times gets mired by the whole gamut of rappers who don’t necessarily need to be on it at all. The fact that fellow Triple C’s member Young Breed is featured as many times as Gunplay on this project is troubling. Meanwhile, Stalley does well with his solo performance on “Coupes & Roses,” but does not appear anywhere else on the project, making him stick out like a sore thumb.

Self Made Vol. 3 won’t silence the haters of Rick Ross’ MMG movement, and it certainly does not break the mold of previous iterations in the series. However, the album’s hits should have a lasting impact, serving as jump off points for several of the artists on the label. Rozay can’t ask for much more than that. -Dharmic X