Atop their sizable, corner of the market, hip hop empire, Rick Ross and the gang (no pun intended) of Maybach Music Group furthermore cherish their luxuries and bask in their attributes on Self Made 3 while also explaining their supposed histories and/or self proclaimed involvement in the dangerous drug dealing business, whether or not it's fully true, a type of doubt which really applies to any emcee rapping about dope peddling (or brutal violence for that matter). The third album of the Self Made series delivers classic MMG lyrical gangsterism with some deviations that keep this part of the saga fresh enough. Featuring a lineup of original Maybach Music members and fitting guests, the album starts like expected then begins to really get fascinating at the halfway mark all the way until the end.
The most potent, hard hitting gangster bangers can almost all (minus "What Ya Used To," "Kilo" and "Bout That Life") be found right at the beginning with tracks like "Gallardo," "The Plug," "Lay It Down" and "Stack On My Belt" helping to layer on the flavors of money, drugs, violence, and then more money, respectively. Hardly gripping enough material to be called a fantastic opening, these songs keep listeners long enough to catch what's to come next. At last, "Black Grammys" comes along offering a kinder song about success from despair, over gentle guitars and drums featuring Wale, Meek Mill, Rockie Fresh, and J. Cole. "Know You Better" with Fabolous and Pusha-T and "Say Don't Go" provide relief for the gals with romantic ballads courtesy of Omarion's tender, intimate vocals.
Following the lead established by "Black Grammys" are three fabulous tracks which provide great takeaway value for listeners. "The Great Americans" examines the momentous fame and influence placed upon the emcees featured on the song as they tell their tales of rising from obscurity, giving hope for a better life to anyone who decides to tune in. "Poor Decisions" gives credence to the old saying, "a life left unexamined is not worth living," as Wale, Rick Ross, and Lupe Fiasco (of all emcees to appear on a MMG record!) spit wisdom on the mistakes some African Americans tend to make coming up in the world. Lastly, "God Is Great" sees Rockie Fresh, a Chicago native, rapping about all the blessings he has thanks in large part to his booming music career and is a message to always count one's blessings and remain grateful in life.
A different producer pops up on nearly every record on Self Made 3 yet the album has good cohesion of sounds without any beat sounding errant or out of place. Aside from those guests already mentioned, notable features include the late Lil Snupe, Lil Boosie, Birdman, and French Montana among others. Overall, Self Made 3 will probably satisfy both loyal MMG fans and general hip hop fans, but too much of the album is typical gangsterism that even the emcees on these tracks can't overshadow. The refreshing breaks in the songs with positive messages are too few and far between to classify the entire project so the low brow, shoot-em-up, "make it rain" songs unfortunately knock the whole album down one or two pegs in the end. A solid album, Self Made 3 is not perfect, but it is a worthy installment in its series.