Before dropping Self-Made, Rocko spent years in the background, writing and producing hits for others while developing the careers of Sammy Sam and Young Dro. After shopping around the demo of his solo single "Umma Do Me," he was snapped up by Def Jam in a swift -- maybe a little shortsighted -- manner. "Umma" is a hook-filled monster with just the right amount of cocky attitude bumping against a royal Drumma Boy production. It sounds great at a party, a club, on the radio, or any other place where it's the chorus that matters. That Rocko's style is an unoriginal mix of Young Jeezy, T.I., and Shawty Lo didn't matter much as the four-minute jam climbed the charts, but when he creates anything less than "Umma," it's detrimental. Past the hit, Self-Made's first half is plagued by empty, everyday party numbers, the most shameless of them all being "Old Skool," where "Umma"'s mediocre line "My ol' school cost more than your new school" is blown up into a full song. Fortunately, things pick up once the convincing club track "Like This Here" hits. The story-song "Snakes" is interesting as a Dirty South alternative to R. Kelly's "Trapped in the Closet," while the hood fantasy "Thugs Need Love Too" features some steamy Monica and Rocko interaction, which shouldn't be too surprising since they're a married couple in real life. As evidenced by the guest appearances of Monica, and even Lloyd, Self-Made would be much better if it gave some more of Rocko's high-profile friends an opportunity to put some flavor on the tracks. Instead, it stubbornly tries to present him as an all-around artist and limits its appeal to forgiving Dirty South fans who don't mind fishing for highlights.
AllMusic Review by David Jeffries
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