Volume 2 of the Self Made series rolls around and this time, there are a few new wrinkles to the collaboration. Gone is contributor Pill, who it turns out was unsigned and simply affiliated. In his place stands the steadily improving French Montana, who has evolved from dog shit rapper with charisma to a servicable Steve Kerr on the starting five, adding well timed and valued contributions on hooks and surprisingly, verses.
Also onboard is Ohio rapper Stalley who was signed too late in the game to really contribute to volume. Rick Ross did a lot of heavy lifting on the first volume and carried a lot of records. This time around he’s Rondo, dishing out the assist when necessary and closing the game out with the heavy, T.I. assisted “Bury Me A G.” Other places he lends his weight to the hook on “David Copperfield.” The album is also slimmed down to an efficient 14 tracks.
There are some bangers including album opener and All-Star collaboration “Power Circle,” which features a Southern church piano and the whole crew along with L.A. rhyme animal Kendrick Lamar who steal yet another show batting cleanup. Stalley and Ross run the two man game on the hard yet elegant “Fountain of Youth.” Stalley’s voice sounds a bit off at higher speeds but it’s not amateur night. He doesn’t feel as out of place as many thought when he was signed. Kudos to Ross for not putting him out of his element on one of those high speed trap raps that Meek and Wale excel at.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that this album is very soft in the middle. Yes there is an accounting for the inclusion of Omarion but there is way too much chick wrangling on this album. MMG excels at that hard shit and with Ross allowing more time for his artists, there is a bunch of empty rhyming that sounds good at times but doesn’t bring that thunder, most prevalent on tracks where the Bauce is absent. It’s like Lebron before the chip: well-rounded but missing maturity and focus.
Guest appearances by Ross protpege Gunplay and French Montana and an uncredited guest slot by Nas mitigate some of the chich shasing but in the end, the album is an Oreo; a hard beginning and end sandwiching a soft middle. More Ross less floss on the next go round.
Out of 5
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