Release Date: May 23, 2011
Record label: Warner Bros.
Genre(s): Rap, Gangsta Rap, Southern Rap
In the half-decade since his debut hit, "Hustlin'," Rick Ross has grown from a second-tier drug rapper into one of hip-hop's steeliest MCs. Now he's a mogul, and by the sound of this showcase for three rappers he signed to his record label, he's a good one. Meek Mill offers gruff gangsta-isms; Wale flaunts his sleek bohemian-hardcore style on bragfests like "600 Benz." But the real find is Pill, who steps up to the major leagues without taking the street-level grit out of crack-trade tales like "Pacman." Ross pops up throughout, adding his booming voice and knack for terse disses: "Fuck a blog, dawg, 'cause one day we gon' meet." Listen to Self Made Vol.
At the beginning of his career, Rick Ross seemed to be playing the part of kingpin rather than actually living it. Now, after last year’s surprisingly tremendous Teflon Don, Rick Ross has become the Mafioso myth he created. Self-Made Vol. 1, a compilation from Ross’s Maybach Music Group record label, arrives as further proof that Ross means business.
Jump-starting his own empire, platinum rapper Rick Ross introduces his Maybach Music Group with Self Made, Vol. 1, a grand onslaught of polished street music with Ross, Wale, and newcomer Pill carrying the most weight. They’re the ones to do it, too, as all three are in top swagger mode throughout, pimpin’ Roc-A-Fella style on the opening Just Blaze production “Self Made,” or grinding it out hood style on the vicious and minimal “Pacman.
While mostly relics of the 90s (back when anything could sell with a No Limit tank on the cover), posse albums are still something of a tradition among rappers hot enough to justify releasing major label “mixtapes”. Rick Ross proves that he does in fact have that heat with Self Made Vol. 1. Unfortunately, the rest of the group upholds another tradition by struggling to get out from under their leader’s large shadow.
Wale's short career has taken some weird and fascinating turns. When the D.C. rapper first came on the scene, he was a hero to a certain kind of fan-- a conscious rapper who talked about sneakers just as easily as he talked about struggles, and one who seemed comfortable rapping over different styles but who remained tied to his city's grassroots go-go scene.
I was actually pretty stoked for this release. In 2009, Pill seemed like he was going to become one of my favorite rappers before he released a bit of a dud in 2010 with The Overdose. Wale released an album, Attention Please, that a lot of people disliked for some reason, but I thought he came off really official, and most of his mixtapes were equally quality.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way for Rick Ross. Mired in controversy just a few years ago over his past life as a correctional prison officer and knee-deep in a war of words with 50 Cent, the Miami native was supposed to be another in the list of musical cast-offs during Jay-Z’s Def Jam tenure. Credit (or blame) his penchant for crafting tunes that have stuck to the public’s collective consciousness for five years and running, and Rozay has simultaneously become one of the more popular and polarizing hip-hop artists today.