If there is one lesson Rick Ross has continually found success from it’s the old “If it’s not broke, then don’t fix it” cliché. While one could make a case over the technical abilities of the rapper, you can’t deny his ability to crank out hits. His formula of being able to capture ears with a specific sound that listeners can identify with has been working for him since his last solo release in 2010. This formula has also benefited his ever growing stable of artists as the MMG roster has adopted his methods to varying success. As the collective comes together for their second official compilation together with MMG Presents Self Made 2, their mission to maintain their chokehold on the game is in full effect.
In typical crew love fashion, the album starts off with a posse cut filled with the best the label has to offer. “Power Circle” is an eight minute introduction that listeners can be proud of. Rick Ross gets the ball rolling with Gun Play, Stalley, Wale, and Meek Mill. That collective in it self is a force to be reckoned with, but it’s the addition of featured artist Kendrick Lamar that really steals the show on the track. Kendrick’s unique flow and clever wordplay allow him to compliment the MMG faction, while still allowing him to stand out from the pack.
If one thing can be said about this album as opposed to it’s predecessor, it’s that the MMG camp played it to the best of their strengths. All Maybach O jokes aside, Omarion shines along with Wale, and Ross on “This Thing Of Ours”, and a verse worthy of being the albums best from Nas only adds to the triumph. “Fountain of Youth” is another winner as Nipsey Hussle only adds fuel to the MMG signing rumors as he lends his own introspective words to a beat that fits Stalley perfectly.
While Rick Ross can be commended for keeping his creative approach simple, it’s this same approach works as a double-edged sword. While the desire to keep the success of “BMF” and “Tupac Back” going, the result has made MMG a group built on redundancy. “Black Magic” sounds like every other Meek Mill and Ross collaboration, which could be a good or bad thing depending on whom you ask. The MMG flag bearers don’t make a better case for themselves even without Ross on songs like “Actin Up”, and the horrendous T-Pain assisted “Bag Of Money”. The choruses will get your attention, but they ultimately come up short in terms of replay value. “I Be Putting On” brings in MMG affiliate French Montana, along with Roscoe Dash and Wiz Khalifa in a song that sounds like everyone involved mailed in their verses without a second thought. There is nothing wrong with aiming for the commercial charts, but these attempts are just bad examples of music, by all standards.
The biggest surprise of the album lies in the production. While it’s obvious Ross’ ear for the Lex Luger sound minus Lex Luger is still there, he allows his MMG protégés to recite verses over beats that their core fan bases will be pleased with. While Meek Mill is becoming more identifiable with that Ross sound, Wale, Stalley, and even Omarion found a niche here. “M.I.A.” allows the latter to flex his vocals, and fans of the emerging Gunplay will be content with “Black on Black”. The sound caters to the specific fan bases in a way that combines the MMG influence.
Truth be told, there is nothing new to really be found here. Rick Ross and crew simply provide you more or less what you’ve been hearing for the past year. Which isn’t a bad thing by any means, though it’s not hard to see why someone would be tired of it. If you are looking for something with little substance that will have you reciting choruses for the rest of the year, then this is for you. Even if you’re a for the moment listener, it’s still worth a listen. Those that require more from artists and their music will be disappointed, but if that were the case then this album wouldn’t have been given a chance to begin with. MMG for better or worse, are the group of the hour, make of it what you will.
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