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Lesser-knowns hot on compilation

‘Rise of an Empire’ Young Money

Lil Wayne isn’t just the founder of Young Money Cash Money Billionaires, he’s the rap squad’s captain, too. And on “Rise of an Empire,” Weezy plays his role well, anchoring a winning compilation from the camp, and making up for last year’s lackluster “I Am Not a Human Being II.”

Weezy is energetic on the D.A.-produced “Senile,” trotting out what sounds like a Drake-inspired flow, while Tyga dishes up a solid but forgettable verse in addition to his duties on the hook. Nicki Minaj drops in on “Senile,” too, but she’s best on another single, the ruthless “Lookin (Expletive) (Expletive).”

That song, along with Drake’s Hit-Boy-produced single “Trophies,” certainly got fans buzzing about the new album, but the group’s top-billers aren’t the only ones doing their part.

Newcomer Euro holds his own as the only other YMCMB star commanding a solo track on the compilation, and he proves himself deserving of the honor. The Dominican Republic-born rapper deftly narrates his rise from “ripped shoes. to water views,” establishing himself as one to watch on “Induction Speech.”

YMCMB regulars Gudda Gudda, Jae Millz and Mack Maine pull their own weight, too, muscling up on “Fresher Than Ever,” also featuring Birdman and Flow. Gudda, Millz and Maine also appear on “You Already Know,” featuring and produced by Maroon 5 keyboardist and YMCMB signee PJ Morton. But while both the producer and rappers seem to be doing their respective jobs, the collaboration doesn’t quite pay off.

Lil Twist sends his croaky vocals cruising over the laid-back beat of “One Time,” featuring Tyga and hot-right-now rapper YG, who has a Top 40 hit with “My Hitta.”

Though Wayne, Drake and Minaj are the star players, their bench-warmers keep it hot.

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