Meek Mill makes his official mark on the game with his debut album ‘Dreams & Nightmares’. The MMG member has been one of the most sought after rappers over the last couple of years, with his high energy, aggressive flow and street content he has easily become a Hip Hop favourite and with some successful mixtape releases and a few cult hits under his belt, Meek Mills biggest test comes in delivering a complete project that frees him from the mixtape jinx and showcases his ability as an artist over everything.
Meek Mills an interesting rapper simply because he’s a rapper first and foremost but an artist not so much. It appears that on Dreams & Nightmares that Meek is trying to strike a balance between the street life and the high life with alternating tracks to highlight the Dreams and Nightmares sentiment. Not only that it but it appears that his artistic identity is up in the air as well. His strengths have always been rooted in the aggressive, ignorant rap tracks, or struggles from his past experiences and the occasional storytelling narrative like Tony’s Story. His debut is devoid of that energy that we’ve experienced on his previous works and most recently & Dreamchasers 2 with songs such as ‘Lean Wit It’ and ‘Work’ though tracks such as ‘Believe it’ and ‘Young & Getting it’ are ploys in this direction they fall short of really satisfying on that level. As Rick Ross reaches for pop culture references which only results in a terrible euphemism for drugs; ‘I got that Justin Bieber please believe it’, they unfortunately become forgettable tracks that are take on the role of fillers on the Dreams & Nightmares production.
It does boast a couple stand tracks. One being the heart wrenching Boi-1da produced ‘Traumatized’ which is probably the best song on the LP next to Maybach Curtains. Traumatized is one of Meeks most emotionally charged songs and it’s a testament to the potential he possesses. Meek Mill may not be the most technical rapper out but his raw, blunt, aggressive tone sets him apart from his swag rap counterparts such as Big Sean. Traumatized, Who You’re Around and Polo & Shell Tops are songs that strengthen and prove that Meek has a raw authenticity embedded in his style. Not to mention the emotions heard on these particular cuts leave no doubts in your mind when it comes to truth tracking his bars. Whether he’s saying ‘You ripped my family apart, you made my momma cry so when I see you nigga it’s a homicide, just so you know I don’t fear you nigga’ on Traumatized, or speaking out to his ex homies who couldn’t handle his success on Who You’re Around. You understand and feel the level of angst that he’s putting forth in his music and it makes for good Hip Hop.
Maybe one thing that does prove evident on Dreams & Nightmares is what I mentioned earlier about Meek’s artistic direction. Where he serves up a decent album, songs such as ‘Lay Up’ that features Trey Songz and Rick Ross are clear attempts to imitate label mate Wale’s ‘That Way’ featuring Jeremih that appeared on his sophomore album Ambition earlier this year. Some may say what’s an album without a track for the ladies, this may be true to some extent but the vibe of the song isn’t Meek and is more of an awkward song choice than anything else. The thing is, when Meek Mill strays from his ignorant rap and delves into more layered content and hard hitting topics beyond the materialistic wealth and braggadocio rhymes he shines. When he spits in retrospect on the sophisticated Maybach Curtains despite a strong cast on the song, Meeks triumph isn’t overshadowed and when he takes his listeners on a journey on Tony’s Story Pt 2 that’s when Dreams and Nightmares really pulls you into its sequence.
He’s proved he can be a versatile rapper, but the different tempos and styles on Dreams and Nightmares make it hard to decipher where he’s going with the whole project. From the grandiose tracks with dreamy synths on In God We Trust and Maybach Curtains to Lex Lugar ish beats that are Believe It and Young Kings and then the eerie dark chords on Traumatized and Tony’s Story Pt 2. The Dreams and the Nightmares are muddled together and I wouldn’t say it’s a bad album, I’d just say it could have been executed better. Does he break free of the mixtape jinx? Barely but there’s still time for him to improve and come back stronger on his second effort. Dreams & Nightmares is decent effort at best and hosts potential for better at worst.
Album picks – Traumatized, Tony Story Pt 2, Who Your Around, Maybach Curtains, and In God We Trust.