Dreams and Nightmare, Meek Mill, 10/30
by Luke Smith-Stevens on November 5, 2012
Posted in: Hip Hop, Music
The summer of Rick Ross’s Maybach Music Group spills into the fall with the first album from the group’s biggest up and comer, Philly’s Meek Mill. Meek has released a ton of mixtapes over the past few years, most notably Dreamchasers and Dreamchasers 2 in 2011 and 2012 respectively. He’s also appeared on many tracks with Ricky Rozay on the Self Made compilations, in addition to making the rounds on records with other members of the MMG roster, including Wale, Gunplay, Stalley, and Rockie Fresh. On October 30th, Meek dropped Dreams and Nightmares, a 14-song album released through Maybach Music Group/Warner Bros.
The album’s concept revolves around the two sides to Meek’s rising success in the hip-hop game; on one hand, the luxury he can now afford and the satisfaction of making it all the way from the bottom, on the other, the horrors he has seen and experienced along the way and the willingness instilled in him through those memories to defend what he has made for himself at all costs. The album’s first track, also titled “Dreams and Nightmares”, communicates this split, and when the beat drops halfway through, Meek turns up the intensity about 30 degrees, taunting his detractors, “so much money all yo friends turn inna enemies, and when its beef I turn my enemies to memories”. It’s a strong opening, largely because it demonstrates Meek’s greatest asset, his captivating energy on the mic. It is an undeniably infectious talent, and his energy is enough to carry several of the album’s stronger tracks, such as the lurking “In God We Trust”, which honors money’s all-powerful hold over the Philadelphia of Meek’s youth.
However, Dreams and Nightmares is proof that Meek still has a lot to figure out about parlaying an elite and identifiable skill into a full, compelling album. There are a couple of absolute duds, such as the star-studded “Maybach Curtains” and “Young and Gettin’ It”. “Amen” and “Lay Up” are both decent, with the latter getting a great boost from the Teflon Don himself, but they are just missing something. In general, the songs that don’t feature Meek Mill at the height of his aggression feel flat, half-assed in a way.
The good news, and what really saves the album, is that Meek does show signs of being able to adapt his high intensity delivery to different subject matters and kinds of songs. On “Traumatized”, Meek raps about the death of his father and how it set the tone for the nearly constant killing of people in his life (“prolly part of the reason we drink ‘n we get high, when I find the nigga that killed my daddy know I’ma ride, hope you hear me I’ma kill you nigga”). “Who Your(sic) Around” expresses disgust and bewilderment at the abandonment and money-grubbing of his supposed homeys and features a solid assist from Mary J. Blige. “Tony’s Story Pt. 2” demonstrates Meek’s surprisingly strong story-telling abilities in the follow up to “Tony’s Story” off of Dreamchasers 2, and although it’s not nearly as strong as the first, it showcases one of Meek’s most impressive technical skills, his use of a sort of half-half-full bar (or short-short-long, I don’t know the musical term for this) rhyme scheme, which is both jarring and highly listenable (seriously, listen to “Tony’s Story”, linked above, for this, you’ll see exactly what I mean).
All this is to say that Dreams and Nightmares, though spotty, is a decent album, and worth listening to if you’ve heard any of Meek’s stuff in the past and feel as strongly about his energetic flow as I do. He’s got a lot of work to do, but his ability to distribute his strengths across a variety of songs is promising evidence that he can keep improving.
Best Line: “But he got killas lurkin outside of your home tonight, and they gon’ hit the crib and kill the kids, oh that’s Kony right?”–Meek Mill, “In God We Trust”
Also worth checking out: Priest Andretti, Curren$y (free download at datpiff.com)