Rise Of An Empire (Young Money)
The follow-up to Young Money’s 2009 debut compilation, Rise Of An Empire opens with the one-two punch of We Alright from newcomer Euro, Lil Wayne and Birdman, and Drake’s stentorian hit Trophies – a reminder that Young Money boasts some of rap’s biggest crossover stars.
But the rest of the album doesn’t show many heirs to those thrones. The unfortunately named Euro shows potential with punchline-packed bars, but uses a flow too Drake-like to make his own mark.
The album is bogged down in missteps like Tyga, Lil’ Twist and YG’s limp One Time and uninspired strip club anthem Back It Up. Wayne, who’s been on autopilot the last few years, is spotty again here, delivering a characteristically apathetic verse on the Christina Millian co-starring Video Model, sounding like a man trying to capture the flirty magic of his earlier pop features, but falling painfully short.
One of the album’s lone bright spots is Nicki Minaj’s scathing Lookin Ass, a role-reversing battle cry that’s an early contender for song-of-the-year lists.
Top track: Lookin Ass