The eventual move for Rick Ross following his absolute takeover in 2010 with Teflon Don was to begin adding muscle to his fabled Maybach Music Group. As the pieces began to get their jerseys and the ink dried up on the contracts, it looked more as if Ross was busy plucking up every rap blog’s favorite rapper who didn’t necessarily have a deal to begin with.

The three major pickups D.C. rapper Wale, Philly freshman Meek Mill and Pink City’s sultan of the trap Pill all have their own tales of either not having it completely together for their own projects (Folarin)  or their brand of reality not necessarily finely tuned for the public (Pill). Yet, Ross had the golden arm to steer every new roster move into a team and with the release of Self Made Vol. 1, the squad shows that not only are they talented equally, they can even bend to the Rozay mold and create a solid project in the spitting image of their leader.

There is no slouching on production when it comes to a Ross release and Self Made continues his penchant for picking large, enriched beats that give his gruff voice the tone that every word out of his mouth bears importance. The lead track “Self Made” sees Just Blaze toss in a Wings sample wrapped around Teedra Moses’ lush vocals and his brand of percussions easily standing out as one of the best produced tracks on the album.

The dual sounds that Ross is known for, sinister drums with a bullies menace lead off the album after “Self Made” for four consecutive tracks before smoothing itself out to the grace and similarities of his J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League hits for small portions (see “Rise” featuring CyHi Da Prynce & Curren$y). “That Way” featuring Jeremih finds Ross and Wale touching over a palate of drums and piano keys from Lex Luger, arguably the sort of jazz club affair that Ross peppered his solo releases with and Luger’s best offering on the boards not related to fearful organs and snares.

A hot debate going into the album would be how Wale fit in within a group that readily talks about lavish dreams with cocaine infused Mafioso tough talk. Meek Mill already has a definitive sound, elated vocals with the amount of energy you’d find at a McDonald’s play pen and P-I-Double-L and his gangsta growl an automatic recognized force. For those thinking Wale had completely changed up his style once “No Hands” became a chart smash and introduced him into the strip clubs of America, you’d be partially right in grading his input on Self Made.

Each member when given time solo with Ross on chorus duty and maybe a guest feature shine exponentially. Since last year’s “B.M.F.”, Rozay has perfected the chest thumping, braggadocios anthem that T.I. left at a simmer when he dropped “What You Know” back in 2006.

By rehashing his chorus from Ashes to Ashes, “John Doe” for Pill’s solo effort “Pacman”, everything comes together: brashness from the Pink City native, Ross with his moslasses slow vocals but ever present eye on the prize and a beat that borders on being a downright trunk destroyer. Even Meek Mill’s chirpy and boisterous “Tupac Back” shares a similar fate, built upon Ross’s daunting tribute to the slain rapper with a chorus that tosses in almost all of Pac’s greatness with his own penchant of rough Miami elegance.

Does Self Made Vol. 1 achieve the sort of standing that the group deserves? Possibly. It definitely has Ross’ golden touch all over it as the player-coach of the MMG shows that he can infect others who may have no other common resemblance to one another other than music and turn them into well oiled pieces of a machine. Sure, the anthems may sound similar and the formula sticks out but it’s Rozay’s sort of unique approach to it that gives it a gleaming appeal.

FINAL SCORE: 7.5