So here we are, on the third floor of a Midtown hotel in New York, to finally discover why Rick Ross' Maybach Music Group has plied every hip hop journalist in the city with an open bar and pigs in a blanket. Rumors swirled: A new signing? A partnership with another label? Release dates for anticipated albums? In the end, the event had all the unpredictability of Titanic, but here are the 10 biggest things we learned from the Bawse and his crew.
1. Your cheat sheet for upcoming MMG (and affiliate) releases: Feel free to print out and file with your tax returns and birth certificate. May 7: Meek Mill's Dreamchasers 2 mixtape; June 26: Maybach Music Group's Self Made, Vol. 2; July 17: French Montana's Excuse My French; July 31: Rick Ross' God Forgives, I Don't; Aug. 28: Meek Mill’s Dreams & Nightmares; Jan 2013: As-yet-untitled Wale album.
2. According to Ross, God Forgives, I Don't will be...: "My best body of work yet," "A very dark story," "Timeless," "Music on the next level," an album that will "put me over the top," a "missing part of my legacy" and contain "nothing but the biggest results."
3. Ross is starting a Big & Tall line with Reebok: Fellow Reebok endorser Swizz Beatz told the crowd why it's totally not about the money, guys: "You have someone that's into fashion like Ross; everything has to be custom-made. Everyone goes, 'Where's my size at?' so we gave Ross his own Big & Tall line. My conversation with him is like my conversation with Nas or Hov... We're where we at because of other people and Ross understands that. He sits. He listens. He's humble." Ross is also, according to Swizz, a "painter who understands Basquiat." Artforum and Art in America journalists immediately start writing pitches.
4. Omarion was introduced as the least surprising new MMG member: With all the drama and mystery of a Scooby-Doo ending, long-rumored MMG addition Omarion was officially welcomed into the family. The R&B singer rechristened himself Maybach O, having only been given, I assume, five seconds to come up with a nickname before meeting the media. Other name used: Luke Skywalker aka the nickname Warner Music Group will never let him use again once George Lucas talks to his hip hop friends.
5. Diddy was there (for some reason): Rumors of a Maybach/Bad Boy partnership heightened when King Combs was spotted in the crowd. But he was just there to "celebrate the hard work and success of my brother Rick Ross" and note that "every time you hear that Australian girl say "Maybach Music," it's like your d**k gets hard." Diddy cheerfully recalled the biggest disagreement the pair had: "I actually had a fight with him when I was managing him for two weeks; he was going to keep 'B.M.F.' on the mixtape and not [officially] release it," recalled Combs. "That's how much belief he has in his ability to make another hot record. He's like, 'I'll just make another one of those.' I got a lot of flack when I started working with him; people didn't understand our relationship, but I can give a f**k what anyone else is thinking. And now they're all on your d**k." Diddy then proceeded to pimp Ciroc Vodka, per (presumably) his contractual obligation.
6. Ross never wavered in his love of compilations: "People shy away from compilations," said Ross. "But I felt it was a great tool in creating a movement and creating a momentum needed for us to be in this position for our artists to stand on their own two feet and continue to be self-made." Get it? Self-made? Self Made?
7. Lyor Cohen co-signs first imprint since 1996: The Def Jam co-founder and current head of Warner Music Group was on hand to note that Ross "has the biggest office in the world: the streets. He doesn't even have an office. When I got a chance to meet him, I saw someone that was going to be undeterred in achieving the success that he has. The possibilities that Rick and Maybach Music are going to bring are, in my mind, unprecedented. I've never seen someone work as hard as he does." Cohen said the last time he introduced and celebrated a label was in 1996 for Roc-A-Fella and that did okay.
8. “O Fortuna” makes everything sound more dramatic: Elliott Wilson, founder of influential hip hop site RapRadar.com, introduced the press conference with a two-minute film compiling MMG videos, in-studio rehearsals and celebrations at the club while this played over it. You may not know it is called "O Fortuna," but after this short film, you wanted to buy everything MMG has ever released.
9. What was the point of that?: Midway through the press conference slips of blank paper were passed around to each member of the media. They were never spoken of again.
10. Meek Mill gives most honest answer ever: Asked by Wilson how "Ima Boss," the rapper's breakout hit, changed his life, Mill replied, "It made me some money." That it did.