Maybach Music Group/Warner Bros.
Released: May 23, 2011
The Carol City, Miami native Rick Ross has emerged as the boss that he has proclaimed himself as through the empire he has built with Maybach Music Group. On the album’s cover appears Pill, Meek Mill, Rick Ross & Wale (from left to right), as it is pretty much these four throughout the project’s duration, with a feature here & there. However, Maybach Music Group actually consists of several more artists. Not only does it house Rick Ross, Pill, Meek Mill & Wale, MMG is also home to R&B singers Teedra Moses & Masspike Miles, Jamaican artist Magazeen, Bronx, NY rapper French Montana, Triple C’s Gunplay + Young Breed + Torch, and the Carol City duo Duce Pound. I’m not exactly sure if Ohio rapper Stalley is officially Maybach Music Group or not, but I’ll mention him just to be on the safe side. Let’s see how this concotion of Ricky Rozay’s brain works via this project entitled Self Made Vol. 1.
1. “Self Made” (Produced by Just Blaze)
Performers: Wale, Meek Mill, Pill, Rick Ross & Teedra Moses
With the exception of Rawse, each member delivers verses speaking upon their own come-ups over production provided the one and only Just Blaze *Just Blaze voice* while Teedra Moses’s sultry voice serenades the backdrop of the song. Self-Made’s opening track, which possess the same name (“Self-Made”), basically gives listeners a fair introduction of each of the artists. For instance, Some may argue that Wale does not necessarily fit in with this collective and Wale immediately addresses that stinky pink elephant in the room that with the first line, of the first verse of the first song. Each member also pays respects to the bawse Mr. Rozay for recognizing their grind and giving them the opportunity. Ross doesn’t even spit; he just proceeds to talk boss s–t as he likens his team to the Dream Team & the ’93 Chicago Bulls. A superb opening track.
2. “Tupac Back” (Produced by Mike Will & Eardrummers)
Performers: Meek Mill, Rick Ross
This track, which is third release from Self Made, sounds like a typical Rick Ross “I think I’m ________” track. I believe it’s one of the album’s weaker tracks as the Bawse & the Philly Flamer Meek Mill tag team this one with the Tupac comparisons. Skip.
3.”600 Benz” featuring Jadakiss (Produced by Cardiak)
Performers: Wale, Rick Ross, Jadakiss
Wale, Ross & The Lox’s Jadakiss come together to stunt on the project’s second single, speaking on the usual topics: clothing, jewelry & whips. “600 Benz” proves that it’s not only about Maybachs, Aston Martins, and Bugattis. Nice club/riding music.
“Pacman” (aka Pack Man) is Self-Made’s fourth release. With Rawse on the hook AGAIN, this track sounds a little “Cc Hammer”-ish. However, with Pill on these types of track, he does them more justice than the efforts of his counterparts, Wale & Meek Mill, on the previous two tracks with similar feels. OK Denn.
5. “By Any Means” (Produced by Lil’ Lody)
Performers: Rick Ross, Meek Mill, Wale, Pill
“By Any Means” (see Malcolm X) is a track about making it by any means and in these fellows’ regards, it’s by hitting the streets and serving. This is the first track in which all four members actually provide verses; verses which contain various mentions of, of course, Malcolm X as well as other prestigious persons. On the hook, Ross says “whatever your religion…”, well their religion is the kitchen & their philosophy is rocks. This one is for the skreets. The song is okay.
6. “Fitted Cap” featuring J. Cole (produced by Raz [of Beat Billionaire])
Performers: Wale, Meek Mill, Ross, J. Cole
Based on the track’s title, one can deduct that has something to do with fashion. Accompanied by another Rick Ross hook, Wale, Meek Mill & RocNation artist, North Cackalack-native J. Cole all discuss being fresh or whatnot. Many shoes get shoutouts on this track, with the majority of them obviously coming from Wale and seeing that this is Atlanta Got Sole, I’ll list them. Jordans (namely Spikes, IV “Lasers”, IX’s, Cool Greys, Concords XI’s,), Lebrons, Foamposites (namely Pine Green), Blazers, SBs & Hyperstrikes all get love on this one. “My Jordans high-top, snapback fitted cap (Woo!)”
7. “Rise” featuring Cyhi Da Prynce & Curren$y (produced by Cardiak)
Performers: Pill, Wale, Teedra Moses, Cyhi Da Prynce, Curren$y
*This portion of the project is what I consider to be the peak of the project. I was starting to grow bored with Self Made’s sound & they brilliantly switched the direction of the project.*
“Rise” offers a nice change of pace. It is a beautiful track about coming up (or being on the rise). Cyhi Da Prynce, who opens the track, delivers again and proves why ‘Ye signed him. Curren$y is on the hook and he wraps up the track with a dope closing verse. With Pill & Wale in between, this is a superbly solid and revitalizing track.
8. “That Way” featuring Jeremih (produced by Lex Luger)
Performers: Wale, Rick Ross, Jeremih
As the project continues to stay on a high note, Self Made begins to get specific to each artist’s “sound”. I like that this allows each to showcase their talent aside from the group with somewhat solo tracks.
The first track showcases DC-native Wale, who does something more so for the ladies. “That Way” features a verse from Rick Ross, a dope Jeremih hook (who reminds me of The Dream), and a VERY surprising Lex Luger production, who samples Curtis Mayfield’s “Give Me Your Love.” The reason I say surprising because this is a completely different sound from the Lex Luger that we are used to. It’s very refreshing to hear Lex’s versatility with the cognac-smooth track. Bravo.
9. “I’m a Boss” (produced by Jahlil Beats)
Performers: Meek Mill, Rick Ross
This track showcases Philly-native Meek Mill and he really shines on this one. Accompanied by a Rick Ross verse and a Jahlil Beats beat, Mill & Ross proceed to boasts about boss s–t to make a record that is definitely a banger.
10. “Don’t Let Me Go” featuring Gunplay (produced by The Inkredibles)
Performers: Pill, Gunplay
“Don’t Let Me Go” showcases Pink City, 4th Ward, Atlanta-native Pill on possibly the project’s best track. Immediately, I knew this was a winner. Ironically, Don Logan (aka Gunplay), who is an excellent feature on this triumphic track, says in his verse that “we Charlie Sheen winning”. Take a listen.
11. “Pandemonium” (produced by The Inkredibles)
Performers: Wale, Meek Mill, Rick Ross
“Pandemonium” is Self Made’s first single. Rozay, Meek Mill & Wale each provide listeners with a 32. On this track provided again by The Inkredibles (who’s production remind me a lot of J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League), Meek Mill had the best verse, in my opinion. “you would think I had a curfew the way I’m going in” -Meek Mill. Mill reminds me of Ace Hood, or vice versa; not necessarily because of subject matter, but more so his due flow/delivery. This is just a solid record all the way around.
12. “Play Your Part” featuring D.A. Wallach of Chester French (produced by The Inkredibles)
Performers: Rick Ross, Meek Mill, Wale, D.A. Wallach of Chester French
This joint was actually from Rick Ross’s Ashes to Ashes mixtape, but when you hear the track it’s totally understandable why it made the album. With the vocalist from the Chester French, D.A., on the hook, he basically sums it all up: We all know and understand the game we (men & women) play & it’s all copasetic as long as everyone simply plays their part. Also, Wale’s wordplay is noteworthy on this record.
13.” Ridin’ on Dat Pole” (produced by Raz [of Beat Billionaire])
Definitely a song that is going to be apart of the soundtrack for shoe models, college students & single moms in establishments all across the nation. If any of them do what P-I-Double L describes, the weatherman forecasts heavy rainfall. This is actually the only true solo track and Pill holds his own.
14. “Big Bank” featuring Torch from Triple C’s, French Montana (produced by Young Shun & Lex Luger)
Performers: Pill, Meek Mill, Rick Ross, Torch, French Montana
“Big Bank” uses the current cash cow combination of Lex Luger + Rick Ross + Money Talk. Add a French Montana feature who fits in with his usual coke talk and a decent verse from Torch of Triple C’s and wah-lah, you have nice record for the club/car. This is more of the Lex Luger that we are used to.
15. “Running Rebels” featuring Stalley (produced by Tone P)
Performers: Wale, Meek Mill, Teedra Moses, Stalley
The track’s title is a definitely fitting as they discuss the obstacles they had to face and they did not and will not stop running. I speculate whether or not they are also making a reference to the 89-90, 90-91 UNLV basketball teams. This track suits Wale well as it sounds more like his sound (see Attention Deficit). Stalley definitely did his thing as wraps up the song with a verse that leaves listeners with the urge to hear more from him. A very good way to close an album.
Overall, this a very good output from this empire. Whether one disagrees with his past, his subject matter and possible fabrication, Ross’s music cannot be denied in terms of consistency and quality. The boss definitely has a winning formula with his team as looks to compete with the YMCMBs, Grand Hustles & Good Musics of the world. Although some may argue that Wale does not necessarily fit in, I do believe Wale did a decent job on the project. I will say that Pill & Meek seem to be the stronger pieces of the group. Not sure if the strategy used on Self Made Vol. 1 (i.e. the 180-degree turn around halfway through project, songs specific to each artist’s “sound”, etc.) was intentional, but was surely effective. On a project that has very few low points, I give this album a 7.9 out of 10. “Maybach Music” *Girl Voice*
Standout Tracks: “Rise”, “That Way”, “I’m A Boss”, “Don’t Let Me Go”, “Play Your Part”
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