Published Mar 11, 2014Young Money's sophomore album Rise of an Empire front-loads a showcase for the label's B-Leaguers with its most recognizable names. "Trophies" is Drake's sole contribution, a gleeful victory lap over a triumphant Hit-Boy/40 beat, while Nicki Minaj delivers the fierce if redundant "Lookin' Ass" and kills the minimalist bounce of the Tyga/Lil Wayne feature "Senile." Unfortunately, Lil Wayne remains in narcotized I Am Not A Human Being form throughout.
He reaches for grandeur on "Moment" and grabs only mundanity, still recycling the same weed, money and gun punchlines. Newcomer Euro joins the overstuffed lineup of benchwarmers for a handful of unimpressive solo shots, a weak premiere from an emcee destined to join the ranks of Gudda Gudda and Jae Millz. Cory Gunz pops up at the end of "Bang" for a typically motormouthed, witty verse, and a strong reminder that there is untapped talent in YMCMB's reserves. Stunna and Slim, meanwhile, should thank every one of Birdman's tattooed stars that the MVPs chipped in for singles. It's time to admit that if anything happens to Wayne, a Lil Twist solo album isn't much of a contingency plan. (Universal Republic/Cash Money/Young Money)