Rick Ross came into his own as an artist and true heavyweight (heh) in 2010, dropping album worthy content on free projects The Albert Anastasia EP and Ashes To Ashes respectively as well as his stunning fourth solo album, Teflon Don. A boss in his own right, still he possessed dreams of something much larger than his gut. Inspired by factions as Bad Boy, Cash Money and Roc-a-Fella Records, he began the Maybach Music Group label and began recruiting artists left and right such as Wale, Meek Mill and Pill. Mere months into 2011, Rick Ross introduces his Self-Made stable of artists to the forefront and the final product is a mixed bag to say the least.
Over the course of the project, the beats begin to become redundant, halting any progress made. Strong reliance on street anthems like ‘Ridin’ On Dat Pole’ and ‘Ima Boss’ largely suggests Ross selected nearly every beat on the album, which is sad when he boasts one of the best ears when it comes to beat selection. Pill’s guttural tone does nothing to assist the generic bars on his street-aimed cut ‘Pacman’ while Ross continues his unconscionable identity crisis on the carbon copy ‘John Doe.’ The project also could have used a solo record from songstress Teedra Moses, the 1st lady of of MMG, potentially with a guest feature solely coming from Stalley to bridge the monotonous street foundation.
The legendary Just Blaze supplies a moving backdrop for the opening cut as lead signees Wale and Meek Mill weave over the stellar canvas like Maseratis down a deserted highway. Rick Ross fails to present a verse, content to look on and bask in the fruits of his labor as his Dream Team flaunts their gifts to the world. Wale enlists Jadakiss’s raspy flow for the trunk rattling single ‘600 Benz’, where the D.C.-based emcee drops quotable after quotable such as “Tinted out, you ain’t seeing through / All black er’thang, this s— like a HBCU” and “If I get pulled over, I know they gon be on it / Cause it’s hot in here and I got no ‘L’ like the ’72 Dolphins.” Signed well after the bulk of the project was complete, Moses offers a morsel of her nostalgic sound on hook duty for ‘Running Rebels’ while Stalley bombards the horn-led instrumental alongside Wale and Mill on the cinematic album closer.
Features outside of the MMG camp were few, but Curren$y (‘Rise’), J.Cole (‘Fitted Cap’) and Jeremih (‘That Way’) more than held their own. At times, however, the album feels congested due to so many cameos on certain records, the uninspiring posse record ‘Big Bank’ for example. Self-Made showcases Ross’ vision for the future of his untouchable Maybach Music Empire: flexibility, whether it be Meek Mill’s infectious charisma (‘Tupac Back’), Teedra Moses’ silky vocals as the 1st Lady of MMG (‘Running Rebels’), Wale’s range as an artist, etc. Speaking of Wale Folarin, his star illuminated the bulk of the compilation, boasting among the best selections on the album in cuts like ‘By Any Means’ and the aforementioned ‘Rise.’ With as talented a roster as they come, Rozay’s prospects look superb, their growth only to be stunted by lackluster effort in pursuit of the good life.
3.5 (out of 5 spins)