Artist: Meek Mill
Album: Dreams & Nightmares
Label: Maybach Music Group/Warner Bros Records
Since joining Rick Ross’ Maybach Music Group, Meek Mill has quickly become one of today’s most popular rappers. Having dropped 7 mixtape before landing a deal, Meek has certainly proved himself as a hardworking and passionate artist who has a lot to say. However, Meek’s formal debut album, Dreams & Nightmares does not stay in line with the hardcore hip-hop spirit of his Flamerz mixtape series, which launched him to stardom.
As the title suggests, the theme of this album is the dream Meek Mill is currently living and the nightmares he had to face to get there. Although many songs revolve around deep subject matter, the stories he tells are generally overpowered by the mainstream sound of the album. Meek’s debut album features a plethora of producers and guest appearances from such well-known artists as Mary J. Blige, Rick Ross, John Legend, Nas and others. However, it is Meek’s unassisted tracks that leave a more lasting impression.
The title tracks serves as an introduction over a soft piano beat. The tone of the album is summed up well with the opening lyrics “I used to pray for times like this to rhyme like this, so I had to grind like that to shine like this…” “Young & Gettin’ It” is the Kirko Bangz assisted second single. The auto-tune induced production comes courtesy of Jahlil Beats, recent signee to Meek’s Dream Chaser Records imprint, and serves as the album’s second single. It did not, however, find the same success as the lead single, “Amen,” which oddly enough may be the strongest track on the album to feature another lyricist, despite the differing styles of Meek and Drake. “Maybach Curtains” featuring Rozay, Nas, and John Legend is a standout feature track if not for Nas’ verse, then for the triumphant hook provided by Legend. As expected, the Rick Ross assisted track, “Believe It” sound strikingly similar to the past collaborations of Meek and the Boss. “Lay Up” is meant as a track for the ladies and contains an unneeded extended verse from Trey Songz, as well as a lacking verse from Wale.
Meek’s most heartfelt tracks are about his personal relationships with friends and family and are unassisted. “Traumatized,” “Tony Story Pt. 2,” “Who You Around,” and “Polo & Shell Tops” contain no rap features and are some of the strongest songs on the project. “Traumatized” is probably the most honest and emotional track of the album. It deals with the subject of the murder of Meek’s father. He expresses his desire for revenge addressing his killer personally on the hook “When I find the n***a that killed my daddy, know I’ma ride / I hope you hear me, I’ma kill you n***a, to let you know I don’t feel you n***a / You ripped my family apart and made my mama cry, So when I see you n***a it’s gonna be a homicide.” The following three tracks maintain a strong theme of jealousy, betrayal, and lack of trust in friendships that Meek has experienced as well as touch on the realities of life in Philly.
With Meek Mill being one of, if not, the hottest artist of the summer from his show stealing performance at Hot 97’s Summer Jam, countless features, to the release of MMG’s Self Made Vol. 2, I believe pushing his album back from a late summer release may have hindered its success. Dreams & Nightmares drops just a few weeks after one of the most critically acclaimed albums of the year, Kendrick Lamar’s good kid m.A.A.d. city. Kendrick’s much less mainstream release has proved to be successful and may have changed what many rap fans are listening for. Had Dreams & Nightmares dropped prior to GKMC, it very well may have been received differently as the project does include some dope tracks. Although Meek Mill’s flow is repetitive throughout the project and it lacks in lyricism it maintains the hunger and passion Meek Mill has consistently provided especially through his storytelling tracks.