After a rollout that included some fun music videos evoking the peak Maybach Music Group days and a Shaq-sized basketball rapper remix to their hard-hitting lead single “Shaq and Kobe,” Rick Ross and Meek Mill finally unleashed their collab album Too Good to Be True today. Across 17 tracks, the project is light on flash (compared to what Ross has taught us to expect from him, anyway) and heavy on Rozay and Millions doing what they do best: trading bars about flexing, overcoming and hustling over alternatively gritty and lush beats.
Judging an album by what guest features it does and doesn’t have is basic and reductive. Still, I can’t fault any fans who caught Meek heavily implying (really, all but confirming) in a recent interview that Drake would be on here for being bummed that he isn’t—Drake and Meek haven’t made a non-great song yet, and Ross is, empirically, Drake’s greatest collaborator. (Personally I was holding out hope they made the Boss Call to land Jigga Man in all his elusive Guest Verse God glory, but we’ll always have this until the next time.) Accept the art as it’s been given to you though, and pleasant surprises will always emerge: absolutely no shade to Teyana Taylor, but who would’ve thought her feature would quietly be one of the most fun tracks, with DJ Khaled slipping back into his early-aughts producer days (when he made beats for Terror Squad as “Beat Novacane,” a moniker he returns to in the credits here) with a slick LA rap-circa-Doggystyle-esque beat for Ross and Meek to tapdance over?
But if there’s one headline-worthy feature, it’s easily Wale’s, whose presence on a Meek Mill/Rick Ross album is about the closest we’ll get to fully evoking the MMG Self Made album series. For one, it’s just nice and reassuring to see him here. There was no reason to expect beef or estrangement, but rap fans rarely need that to speculate, and the fact that Wale is rolling out his own solo album on Def Jam as his two former labelmates launch a splashy collaboration could’ve been cause for concern. So it’s very heartwarming to hear Ralph and Rozay rapping side-by-side, with Wale dropping lines like “A decade with my guys, tribulations and trials.”
Sadly, Meek Mill doesn’t actually appear on the track, so it isn’t a full-blown reunion. But we do get a typically imperial chorus from The-Dream, and Ross and Wale flowing over the type of laid-back beats MMG did almost as well as bangers. Ross and Wale trading lines like “If we beefin, we bangin, I won’t sleep ’til we slay ’em/Will Smith with the smack, Chris Rock with the crack” and “Still be late to the parties/Blame the watches I own, I’m showin’ up ASAP, rocky” respectively, over a smooth beat while Dream effortlessly shifts into ethereal mode is about as fair a compromise as anyone could ask for.
A Self Made 4 may be too good to be true, but the Maybach empire still persists.