Let’s just cut to the chase… this is the third Maybach Music Group compilation. That’s a statement in itself. While the saying is that “third time’s charm”, this particular installment actually seems to be less enthralling than the previous installment. Sure, there is plenty of gangsta to respire here, but this time there is a lack of that surefire juggernaut like “Power Circle” or the coolest funeral arrangement tune “Bury Me A G”. Maybe Rick Ross spent a little too much time counting his bread, but this feels much more like a compilation. Oh well.
Self Made 3 opens with “Lil Snupe Intro”, which serves as a ‘remembrance’ of the slain teenage rapper, with Rick Ross providing the eulogizing close: “R.I.P. Lil Snupe / Dream Chasers, Double M for life.” The brash, unapologetic “Gallardo” provides the first full length cut and smash for the compilation, credited to Gunplay, but also features Trina, Rick Ross and Yo Gotti. “I only f*ck with n***as in them Lambos (Gallardo) / I only f*ck with n***as in them Lambos (Murcielago)…,” Trina asserts on the explicit though ‘guilty-pleasure’ catchy hook. “The Plug” proceeds with Meek Mill delivering in his distinct tone and style, laden with nuance. Omelly and Young Breed also make appearances, taking respective turns on verses two and three. “Gallardo” is the better cut of the two, but “The Plug” isn’t far behind.
On “Levels”, once more the listener is spoiled by Meek Mill’s quick paced, loud, and brutally honest flow. “Lil n***a we don’t rock the same clothes, f*ck the same h**s / cuz it’s levels to this sh*t / lil n***a we don’t drive the same whips, we don’t f*ck the same chicks / cuz it’s levels to this sh*t…” Alrighty then Mill. “Levels” grows a bit monotonous, but isn’t bad if somewhat small-minded itself. “Lay It Down” packs a punch with its assertiveness in lyrical attitude as well as production. Still, the Rick Ross, Lil Boosie & Young Breed feature doesn’t compare to some of the best showings from 2012 compilation Self Made 2. Sure the cues are in play and Rick Ross is still ‘The Boss’, but “Lay It Down” seems too cliché.
“Stack on My Belt” is once more attributed to Rick Ross, featuring Wale, Whole Slab, and Birdman. The results? It gets my approval. Sure it’s about the money, but sometimes being cocky and confident against a fresh beat (or one jacked from past Rick Ross hits) gets the job done. Now the line about boxers Rick… um… “Black Grammys” opens quite similarly to juggernaut “Power Circle” from the previous installment, with Rick Ross making a Michael Jackson/weed allusion… Maybe it’s unoriginal and all, but Wale seems to be on autopilot on the cut, spitting the expected agile rhymes (“As far as lyrics I’m quite content with celibate living / wittingly unf**kwittable with these syllables…”) Meek Mill takes the second verse, followed by Rockie Fresh, and closing sharply with J. Cole (“N***as don’t wanna hang, I’m the tree, I’m the noose / you lil pups couldn’t pee on my roots…”) It runs long at nearly six minute, but there are plenty of positive attributes.
Stalley brings some luxurious rap to Self Made 3 on the fine “Coupes/Roses”. My question is, when does his album drop? “Coupes and roses, flowers for the dead / fresh made, we bow our heads, give thanks for this bread / Lord keep us safe and our families out the feds / my OG asked it square, and this is what he said: we should,” raps Stalley on the standout hook. Omarion adds some hardcore R&B swag on “Know You Better”, bringing along Fabolous and Pusha T. Pusha T takes first blood before the “O” singer compels with his smooth, though sensual pipes (“Tell me do you like to f*ck, or do you just like making love?”). Well produced and strongly performed, “Know You Better” is good, though also long and not quite the ‘second coming’. If one Omarion cut wasn’t enough, “Say Don’t Go” proceeds the former, grinding and living up to its slow jam status. Good it is for the most part, “Say Don’t Go” does lacks the ‘wow’ factor. Also sex doesn’t make up for it either, now matter if O just “wanna put [his] key in your ignition…”
After some not-so-soft contemporary R&B, luxurious rap returns with Rockie Fresh’s “What Ya Used To”, featuring Hit-Boy. Hit-Boy produces the hot joint, incorporating his usual banging drum programming and some mad string synths. The sound of the record is a welcome contrast, which allows it to standout. “Great Americans” shines, thanks to the soulful production and strong lyrical moments from Rick Ross, Rockie Fresh and Fabolous. “Kilo” isn’t horrid, but it reminds me a lot of “Bugatti” and neither Ace Hood or Future is on it! Maybe it’s the lack of substance of the theme: “I used to pray to get a kilo, a kilo / 36 hoes up that route for my amigo / throw it in that water, watch it swim like Nemo / Man I swear to God I pray to get a kilo…” At least the lush Rick Ross, Lupe Fiasco and Wale feature “Poor Decisions” alludes to irresponsibility, right? Maybe Lupe says it best: “Why you lettin’ the devil beat you out your soul…”
Meek Mill is the attributed artist on the slickly produced banger “Bout That Life”, receiving assists from French Montana, Iceberg, K Kutta, and Torch. The hook is minimal for sure: “These p***y a** n***as / ain’t bout that life, ain’t bout that life (you ain’t bout that life)…” Sure it’s not exactly poetry, but we all know Milly rocks out on hard beats like this one. STILL, it is over six minutes long and the loop grates a bit after a while! Rockie Fresh closes out the compilation with “God Is Great”, which cleverly features a vocal loops consistently singing “God”. That said, Fresh seems to be ‘thanking God for the wrong things’, if you catch my drift. “Yeah, oh man, look at me / I’m becoming everything I wish I be / I got b**ches, I got cake / wake up everyday and I say: ‘God is Great’…” Hmm.
Ultimately, Self Made 3 is good, but not stellar. There are plenty of strong cuts, but there are also some that feel like re-writes of the past or just so-so. Still, Rick Ross can continue to count his bread.
Favorites: “Gallardo”; “Stack on My Belt”; “Coupes/Roses”; “What Ya Used To”; “Great Americans”
MMG | Maybach Music Group Presents: Self Made 3 | Atlantic | US Release Date: September 17, 2013