It’s levels to this Maybach Music Group shit. Rick Ross started and will always lead the clique, but Philly’s Meek Mill has been nearly as productive of late, effectively becoming the Russell Westbrook to Rozay’s Kevin Durant. Next are reliable (if sometimes incongruous) role players like Wale and Stalley, as well as below-the-surface types like the volatile Gunplay and Omarion, the mid-2000s R&B star who’s found a second wind with Ross and co. Together, these guys represent everything vital about street rap right now, and like its predecessors, the compilation Self Made Vol. 3 is a snapshot of its moment. Which means this album is comprehensive, but not exactly cohesive.
First of all, Self Made Vol. 3 isn’t just comprised of MMG members — about a dozen others grab the mic, too. As such, even the most selective fan will find something here to love, and the most indiscriminate will find something intolerable, though one’s preexisting preferences regarding these artists will not be challenged. My personal favorites delivered, and that’s because they all stick to their usual tendencies: There’s Meek Mill with his hurricane flow, Gunplay at his forthright best (“fuck feelin’s, I feel cash”), and Ross bellowing kinglike shit. But, satisfying verses from the guests abound too, from the outstanding Lil Boosie feature on “Lay It Down” to an unfortunately promising appearance from Boosie soundalike Lil Snupe, who was recently gunned down in his native Louisiana at just 18.
If any street rap entity has the power to push these sounds past their usual boundaries, it’s MMG and their producers (a few of the bigger names behind the boards here: Boi-1da, Cardo, Hit-Boy, and even Jake One). They don’t do much innovating here, though there are singular moments — the explosive “Kilo” is almost entirely about selling cocaine and yet has a chance at being a club hit like Future’s “Karate Chop”, while “Black Grammys” has a level of opulence to which young producers should aspire. Other than that, Self Made Vol. 3 will please no one all the way through, but could present just about anyone with a few new favorites.
Essential Tracks: “Lay It Down”, “Levels”, and “Bout That Life”