Earlier this year, Hot 97 DJ Peter Rosenberg declared Hip-Hop’s current period the “Rick Ross Era.” Whilst many may be hesitant to make such a declaration, 2012 has most certainly been dominated by the Untouchable Maybach Music Group with regards to new material and landmark moments.
With a majority of the roster dropping mixtapes, tearing down live shows and generating the most industry buzz, MMG’s return to the studio as a collective will most certainly add to the hysteria the outfit has so far caused. Rick Ross leads his alliance into the summer with MMG Presents: Self Made 2 and aims to maintain the grip on the scene before his much-anticipated solo album God Forgives, I Don’t drops to solidify his “Bawse” status for another year.
Spread across Self Made 2‘s ten tracks are all the waves of what can be found on any release from the Warner-signed label. A fitting opener for a collaborative effort, “Winners Circle” enrolls the entire Maybach roster of MCs to toast to being at the apex of the Hip-Hop mountain. Ross, Wale, Meek Mill, Stalley and Gunplay all contribute to the verbal saluting of their empire, whilst guest Kendrick Lamar brings an impressive verse to keep up with the Maybach rhymers. “Black Magic” finds the Boss Ricky Ross team with the prince, Meek Mill, to wreak havoc on a thumping Yung Shun production. Mafioso bragging is on the menu for the smooth “This Thing of Ours,” as New York legend Nas jumps onboard alongside Ross and Wale, with new MMG member Omarion (or “Maybach O”) handling chorus duties.
While a majority of albums are fueled by boastful verses filled with flossing, it’s the adrenaline-filled anthems and silkier cuts which provide the best moments on MMG’s second joint venture. While many questioned the acquisition of Omarion, the former B2K member’s lovelorn “M.I.A.” is an impressive, mellow cut on which Wale adds a quick 16. MMG’s often forgotten Ohio rep Stalley provides something more thoughtful on “Fountain of Youth,” where he, Ross and West Coast-repping Nipsey Hussle explore the quick rise from adolescence to manhood via the streets.
Unlike the previous installment, Self Made 2, for the most part, remains in neutral and lacks the high number of bangers and outright smashes. Although Bad Boy’s French Montana makes a number of appearances to add some extra heat, very few tracks (bar “Winners Circle” and “Black Magic”) carry that anthemic aura of songs like “Tupac Back” and “Imma Boss” from MMG’s initial installment.
Feeling more like an attempt to capture lightning in a bottle, Ross and co.’s family outing simply maintains the crew’s momentum rather than fully and decisively asserting their authority as the best out. Solid ‘hood tracks are on the menu but a majority lack the full satisfaction of previous MMG sounds.
Feeling more like one album too many than an altogether poor offering, Self Made 2 may have benefited from a later release, considering mixtapes from Ross, Mill and even Stalley still remain fresh in the minds of many. Nonetheless, the Untouchable Maybach Music Group still offers a number of highlights to keep the brand strong and give them more time to prepare the next stage of their summer campaign.