How do you judge success in the music industry? If you strictly eyeball Billboard positioning and SoundScan sales, then Maybach Music Group's Self Made compilation series leaves something to be desired. If you measure actual impact, Rick Ross and his hand-picked crew of rap hitmen have hit hard every year since dropping Self Made Vol.1 back in 2011.
The first chapter in the trilogy properly introduced rap fans to Meek Mill and reintroduced the world to Wale — two of MMG's star players. Last year's Vol. 2 welcomed former B2K singer Omarion into the rap fold, while the newly released Self Made Vol.3, in stores Tuesday (September 17), serves as a proving ground for Chicago spitter Rockie Fresh and Ohio's Stalley. Neither have released their major-label debut album.
"I just think it's dope. It's my first time being in stores [and it's] with all of these dudes that I've been fans of," Fresh told MTV News. "I purchased the first two Self Made albums before I even knew I was going to be a part of the next one. So just to see everything come to fruition like that, it's a cool experience."
Rockie holds it down on the album closing "God is Great," and alongside rapper/producer Hit-Boy on "What Ya Used To." On "Black Grammys" he plants his flag in the mix with Wale, Meek Mill and J. Cole spitting lines like "The flow got more crack than the trap you at."
While both Rockie and Stalley provide more lyrical and introspective moments, there are definite street draws on the new LP. Meek Mill steers the drug selling ode "The Plug," while French Montana joins in on "Kilo." Omarion delivers moments for the ladies on "Know You Better" and "Say Don't Go," while Ross spits his boss-isms on "Lay It Down" and "The Great Americans." Then, of course, there is the stand-out hit "Levels."
In the end, Self Made Vol. 3 plays out just like its predecessors. The LP may not dominate the charts when Billboard publishes its tally next week, but it does go a long way in reestablishing MMG's dominance in the rap game.
"I see evolution," Meek Mill told MTV News. "There's more people, new talent and we're definitely growing with music. I think we're all getting better and growing."