Wale, Pill, Meek Mill and Teedra Moses are all talented artists whose careers had become stagnant or had plateaued for different reasons, who have come under Ross’ umbrella. The first official result is the album Self-Made Vol. 1, a record showcasing the many strengths of the Maybach roster, suffers a bit for lack of subject variety and provides a wealth of promise for their particular movement.
Of particular note are the performances of both Wale and Meek Mill. Wale in particular is the lyrical star of the album with a much needed flavor infusion to bolster his considerable skills. Meek has expounded past his Philadelphia boundaries and is on his way to becoming a bona fide star in his own right with an energy that explodes on every track. While none of the crew can match Ross for presence on these records, it’s clear that his association has elevated his artists rather than relegate them to step sister status.
Wale floats like a buttefly and stings like the singer on the Jeremih-featured “That Way,” surprisingly produced by Lex Luger. Jeremih is hot butter on popcorn and Ross closes out the track with muscle Ross delivers perhaps the verse of the album on his Meek co-starred track “Ima Boss.” The title is pedestrian but the allegory crafted by Ross is everything but
“Tupac Back” has set the streets ablaze and inspired numerous imitations. “600 Benz” has done similar damage with the help of Jadakiss. The key to these songs is Ross not trying to hog the glory; allowing Meek and Wale to forge their own identities. The same can be said of Pill’s initial foray, “Pacman.” These three songs are essentially the same in production but their differences in flavor are due entirely to their three distinct skill sets.
Wale and Meek are left to their own devices along with Teedra Moses on the rousing close to the album “Running Rebels.” Brass elements add mood with a bassline smothered by big drums and horns and high hats. Meek explodes on the track, declaring:
Running rebel on another level like the Olympics these youngin they want another medal
They say to get a hundred mill you must become the devil/ If you believe that n***a you as dumb as ever
Young and dumb or either old and stupid/ I put my faith in God, never try, I just do it.
The prime three (Ross, Wale, Meek) appear on a number of songs including “Pandemonium” “Play Your Part” (Featuring D.A. From Chester French) and “Fitted Cap” (featuring J.Cole). D.A. does his best Bobby Brown impression as the trio rhyme of women who think they are getting over on them because they trick a little, not realizing that they are part of the uniform for a player. “Pandemonium” is a rousing, downhill rhyme fest of ashy to classy in the world of organized crime. Cole adds extra cheese to the crew’s fresh recounting Rolls Royces along with foamposites, Lebrons the latest (retro) Jordans and other objects of hood envy. Meek Mill steals the show on this one.
Pill carries his own weight on the hard-charging Gunplay collaboration “Don’t Let Me Go” and holds his own on the tracks that feature the entire collective (“By Any Means” “Self Made”) as long as the Curren$y, CyHi , Teedra and Wale banger “Rise.” Pill adds a certain grit that the other MMG members lack and what he loses in flash he compensates with a grimmer depth.
It’s not the perfect album. Pill’s solo “Ridin On Dat Pole” is unnecessary and cliché. “Big Bank” which features Torch, Meek, Pill and French Montana has been done many times before by Ross alone and with friends. Consider it the Thanksgiving turkey you should have let someone else eat. Too much.
Self Made Vol. 1 succeeds in delivering hard bottomed, high energy rhymes with each member of the collective delivering their own brand of music and blending into each other. They don’t compete for the same spot like a Slaughterhouse album, they stand out separately. As a collective the variation of combinations on tracks and their differing voices makes up for the same subject matter. Color this album a success.
Out of 5
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