Released June 26, 2012 via Maybach Music Group
Rick Ross and his MMG affiliates got it right the second time around. Self Made, Vol. 1 is a mixture of unoriginal, repetitive beats and bland lyricism that leaves you feeling slightly abandon by the genre you look to for inspiration. Volume 2 however, is a completely different story.
Self Made, Vol. 2 has an eight-plus minute introduction, each member spits over a soulful piano ballad-based beat courtesy of Lee Major. D.C. native Wale covers all four corners with fashion, football, a double entendre and the avoidance of squares. The only non-Maybach member on the track is TDE’s Kendrick Lamar, who is all too familiar with the self-made concept.
Despite go-to producer Lex Luger being left out of the project, it’s clear his fingerprints were left vicariously through proteges Young Shun and Beat Billionaire. The over-usage of hard hitting, ominous beats on Vol. 1 played a large roll in the demise. The second instalment however, includes a variety of production from the likes of The Beat Bully, Don Cannon, Cardiak, Boi-1da, Harry Fraud, Rico Love and the two aforementioned.
Let’s get back to Wale for a minute. The 27-year old is on 8 of the 14 tracks, giving him the most appearances. You get the feeling he’s taking the reigns to finalize the transition between rookie and well-seasoned. Diversity is his strong suit, and he strives in any arena he’s thrown in. The laid back flow on “Fluorescent Ink” suits Cardiak’s beat, “I just want my mind to be free/Never mind if they fond of me, I’ve been a beast/I recline in my seat, number nines on my feet.” Wale also has the ability to pop off, which he displays on “I Be Puttin’ On” firing with:
“I know you see me with your looking ass/What the fuck you looking at?/This is MMG and we don’t speak to all you fucking crabs.”
Whatever the scenario, Wale throws down with ease and purpose.
Recently signed, and former B2K member Omarion jumped on three tracks, one of which he splits with Wale over a slow, chopped up beat from The Beat Bully who uses a looping futuristic synth with slight reverb. O and The Boss cook up a nice slow jam, “Let’s Talk,” which is a perfect example of the diversification we’re talking about. Up and coming producer Ayo (Wayne’s “John”) created this majestic beat that flows over the familiar words of Mr. Biggie Smalls, gutsy move on Ayo’s part, but it works. Stalley on the other hand, delivers in a more subtle fashion, so listen closely, or you may miss the flash of brilliance. And we’re not talking the less is more concept either; the Ohio native spits for 1:20 on “The Zenith,” with much reference to his journey and the struggles he endured.
“I used to look at the future and I couldn’t bear to see/Me, my momma, and my sister was the bears in the tree/Porridge in my bowl, trying to keep hold of my souls”
The ‘The Three Bears’ reference is so on point coming from Stalley; hearty, simplistic, honest and understated.
The expectation for Meek Mill was not quite met. Fresh off that Dreamchasers 2 business, the anticipation was that he would deliver that fiery flow on at least 5-6 tracks. Granted, Mill did explode on “Actin’ Up” and “Black Magic.” There is some truth in saying the singles or promo tracks lose some weight when the record actually drops.
The features on the record fell into place in all the right spots. With supergroups, the need for features turns into more of a want. Nipsey Hussle, the 26-year old West Coast rapper, who’s making quite the name for himself these days slides his knowledge into “Fountain Of Youth.” The grind and the hustle comes with a price tag quite often,
“Staring at my Rollie bezel as I soul-search/Run this money marathon ’til my soles hurt/But no materials could measure what my soul’s worth.”
French Montana finds himself on three tracks (bangers) in a row, with a joint venture deal between MMG and Bad Boy, he’s technically not a featured artist. Regardless, he delivers with that raspy voice and that ‘rough-around-the-edges’ flow. On “This Thing Is Ours,” Nas shows us exactly why he’s been relevant in the industry for two decades. The proudly Queens-native steps up to the plate without hesitation, and delivers a grand slam effortlessly.
Let’s just take a minute to appreciate the man who is responsible for this synergy; The Bawse, Rick Ross. There’s something to be said about a boss that allows their proteges to hold themselves accountable, speak freely, and act as ambassadors. That’s what happened here. Ross has brought together an eclectic mix of characters to formulate this Hip Hop supergroup. Volume 1 felt as if each artist was recording in their own studio, and the record was pieced together track-by-track. Volume 2 on the other hand, sounds as if the group discussed concepts over cognac, worked in the studio until the break of dawn, and assisted any weaknesses rather than outshining them.
Rolex, Louboutin, Rolls and the journey it took to get there. Maybach Music Group clearly heeded the advice masked as negative reviews for Self Made, Vol. 1. Ross and company strayed from the mundane beats, extended the vocabulary and stuck to the story line. As an artist, improvement is often the most difficult accomplishment, but the most necessary. They upgraded from Michael Bay to Ridley Scott. So tune in and let that beat resonate until the infamous “M-m-m-maybach Music” fades out.
What did you think of Self Made, Vol. 2?