Last year around this time Ricky Rozay’s Maybach Music Group released the first album presenting the entire roster and this year, they’re doing it again. Down a rapper but gaining a singer, the house that Ross built has only grown in ubiquity, with expectations rising along. Will their second compilation leave the Brain Trust as divided as the first one did or will a consensus be reached this time around? Dive in to find out.
The problem I had with this album is that it had trouble putting together all the pieces of the puzzle. There were some dope beats, but they were accompanied by tired lyrics of money, hoes, guns. There were some strong lyrical moments (mostly from Stalley), but they were usually marred by repetitious, lame beats. Still other times, the hook was the issue. And then there’s the Ross factor. He continues to top himself with the ridiculous things he says (“The square root of a kilo is me!”), and ruins nearly every song he’s on. The rest of the crew offers nothing worth much here, save Stalley, who is focused throughout. There are a few songs that got it right, namely “Fountain of Youth” and “Let’s Talk.” However, this album is further proof that MMG is one of the weakest crews around.
Talk about pleasant surprises! I’m not saying Self Made Vol. 2 is album of the year, but I found myself digging this more than I thought I would! Where I thought last year’s offering gave way to too many tracks sounding so similar, the variety on this one hit me immediately. You’d think cuts like the Kendrick Lamar-feature on “Power Circle” would be all me, I was drawn more to that Beat Bully-produced, Omarion cut “M.I.A.”. Sure, it feels like something Drake would’ve done, but O’s is a better singer and breathes some life into this track. It definitely has some missteps (I’m not a fan of “The Zenith”), but cuts like “All Birds”, “Actin Up” and “Bury Me A G” are exactly the kind of dope you’d hope from MMG’s conglomerate.
Officer Ross also continues to grow as a rapper and revels in his overblown mafioso persona, which doesn’t make his verses any less ridiculous but certainly more enjoyable in all their grandiose craziness. Omarion adds variation to the roster and Stalley, the premier lyricist among the bunch, gets more time in the spotlight, although he sometimes feels a bit like a fish out of water with his relatable down-to-earth character standing next to Ross’ gangster cartoon. Wale gets to vent about dealing with jealousy from former friends (“They try to see me get diabetes from humble pie”) and sounds more interesting than on his own album on “The Zenith.” Still, without any type of aesthetic or narrative at the forefront on an album that’s already showcasing a sound currently dominating rap, the record as a whole still feels pretty generic, causing even the standout moments to get drowned in overall blandness.
How is it possible to make some “quality” yet “generic” songs which make the overall album “meh”… well Mehbach Music got that method. Self Made Vol. 2 may be better than the deluge of microwave rap. But it’s still not anything to write home about.