Maybach Music Group helped rewrite the book on how to make quality Hip Hop label compilations. Ideally, it’s a deceptively simple formula featuring guest appearances from some of the best mainstream rappers in the game, plying their trade over top notch production. Combining Rick Ross, Stalley, and Nipsey Hu$$le over a smooth piano-laden beat (Self Made Vol. 2’s “Fountain Of Youth”) or pairing Wale, Meek Mill, and a hungry J. Cole for flossing and sneaker head talk (Self Made Vol. 1’s “Fitted Cap”) has enabled the Self Made series to stand out from the dozens of other e-mailed “collaborations” flooding Hip Hop. While there are signs of the previously successful formula on Self Made 3, lazy features and forgettable production prevent the album from living up to the standard set by Ross and his entourage.

The first Self Made project established Meek Mill as a bankable soloist. While “I’m A Boss” helped develop a buzz for a younger, then unproven Meek, “Tupac Back” gave him another look that helped push him into the forefront of conversations about up and coming artists. Self Made 2 brought Omarion and French Montana into the fold, but starred Wale, who at the end of 2011 dropped his second album, Ambition, and had gotten heavy mainstream appeal with “Lotus Flower Bomb.” Chicago’s Rockie Fresh—one of MMG’s newest additions—is clearly the scene-stealer of Self Made 3. The young Chicagoan appears on one of the album’s lead off singles, “God Is Great,” holds his own on one of the project’s better songs, “Black Grammys,” while narrating another (“The Great Americans”). On “Black Grammys” Fresh raps, “I’m looking at the plan, like this shit might work / But if it don’t work, then this shit might hurt / We made first and goal, now we gotta convert / Gotta get a couple mill, then go for dessert / I’m tryin’ to break the bank, I ain’t breaking the news / That negative attention be the reason we lose / Instead of paying bills niggas wanna buy shoes / If it’s money over bitches, is it that hard to choose…”

Interestingly enough, the biggest highlight of Self Made 3 comes from another Chicagoan. Lupe Fiasco’s effort on “Poor Decisions” will probably be in the running for one of the best verses of 2013. Lupe opens the verse with “The Beloved T-Rex says / Grown man bars is somethin’ you gotta deal with / Whole hand cards but nothin’ that you can build with / That sound like bullshit from out a bull mouth / even a tepee is a full house…” The verse in its entirety is sure to remind listeners just how great Lupe can be.  

Unfortunately, all the features on Self Made 3 don’t have the same impact as Lupe. “Lay it Down” features the incarcerated Lil Boosie, rapping about, “having niggas running like Jackie Joyner-Kersee,” The cliché line may not have been as bad if not for several other clichés spit on the same song. While Fabolous makes a decent showing on “The Great Americans,” his rapping of “You take the best pictures, you should win an insta-Grammy” on “Know You Better” negates the positives of the aforementioned song. “The Plug” finds Meek Mill telling a story of robbing his connect. While the tale of “robbing papi” has been told a million times in Hip Hop, Meek’s yelling, high energy flow, along with the stereotypical Latin drug supplier interludes within the song add nothing new to a tired trope. Similarly, Rick Ross’ ability to craft great songs themed after expensive cars (“Maybach Music” “Aston Martin Music”) isn’t reflected on “Gallardo.” The race car sound effects, along with female hooks of “I only fuck with niggas in them Lambos” and “Niggas buying pussy, niggas buying pussy” cheapen the song to the point where it can’t be saved by a Gunplay verse.

Self Made 3 is a good introduction for young Rockie Fresh. But for those who were listening to the project for Meek Mill, Wale, or Ross, may be disappointed. Rarely on the project do any of the other MMG members shine. Overall, the album lacks the shine and luster of the previous two Maybach Music Group compilations.