November 1, 2012 No comments yet
One minute and thirty seven seconds. That’s how long it takes after pressing play on Meek Mill’s debut album “Dreams & Nightmares” before he begins screaming at the top of his lungs in his best banshee impression. A long time in the making, “Dreams & Nightmares” is the culmination of a lifetime of troubles, fears, struggles and overcoming to be a point where Meek Mill can begin to do something positive with his life. The album is littered with messages of how failures are temporary and how the street life is not all glamorous.
Meek Mill’s rise to prominence is the true definition of grinding. After toiling on the mixtape circuit for years in his hometown of Philadelphia, he caught the attention of T.I. who signed the artist to his Grand Hustle imprint. This was around the same time the label was trying to build itself around artists such as Governor and Yung L.A., but Meek was never able to capitalize on his potential and situation due to nagging legal complications. Once freed from prison, Meek resumed his hustle and began to dominate the urban market in Philly. His local record “Rose’ Red” began to gain traction and he reached out to rap superstar Rick Ross to jump on the remix. The two kept in contact and when Ross began building his stable of artists, he reached out to Meek, Wale and others to begin his Maybach Music Group imprint. After riding on the sidelines for the past year, Meek finally has his legal troubles behind him and is able to unleash his audio aggression to the world.
Although he has become known for being a dynamo on the mic in terms of just pure energy and relentlessness Meek is an underrated lyricist and storyteller in his own right, and these areas are where he chooses to focus on for his debut album. On the title track, “Young & Getting It” with Kirko Bangz and “Believe It” alongside Rick Ross, Meek showcases the style he’s become identified with these days. Those tracks are seemingly handpicked to fit right into your favorite workout playlist and not skip a beat. These tracks are in stark contrast next to songs like “Traumatized”, about the pain of losing his father in a violent murder at a young age. “Traumatized” is one of the most honest, heart-wrenching songs I’ve heard in quite some time, as Meek makes you hang onto every single word and threat he aims at his father’s assailant. “Maybach Curtains” has Meek trading bars alongside Nas and Rick Ross as he talks about how far he’s come in the face of such adversity, living up to the MMG ethos of being “self made”.
The rest of the album is a delicate tightrope act of walking the line of the commercial “Dreams” records and the gripping “Nightmares” songs. Meek made a conscious effort to offset each poppy celebratory record with a tale of how the street life can basically destroy everything you work hard to obtain. “Tony’s Story Pt. 2” and “Who You Around” are the epitome of cautionary tales, and it’s tracks like these that separate Meek from the majority of artists who only glamorize that lifestyle. The third verse on “Young Kings” is especially noteworthy, as he’s basically detailing how he has a close associate doing all of the illegal things that he would be doing if not for rap music. For Meek and others, putting words into verses and raps truly is a godsend in helping them escape their environment.
If you’re looking for the screaming, yelling Meek Mill then this album is not for you. Meek can probably do those tracks in his sleep so at this point it’s not challenging for him. If you prefer storytelling in your rap, and harsh reality checks about the negative outcomes of hustling then this is the album for you. Yes, money has allowed Meek to live a certain lifestyle these days but the price of fame has come with its shortfalls, and this is Meek’s attempt to document those.