by Mike Andrews
In recent weeks, the media has been focusing on the rising crime in Chicago’s Southside with a higher murder rate so far this year than in Afghanistan; but on his debut solo album, Dreams and Nightmares, Meek Mill is here to show the world that Philadelphia is no playground, either.
“We done went to war with the realest, shot it out with the best / Talkin’ huntin gorillas, banana clips make a mess/ I seen young niggas cry, I seen young niggas fold/ I seen young niggas die, because a young nigga told”
MMG artist Meek Mill manages to capture the violent scenes in Philadelphia over the dark rhythms and snares of producer Black Metaphor on one of the opening tracks, “In God We Trust”. The most surprising part of the album is Mill’s ability to not only paint a picture, but to tell the stories of his hometown.
In the sequel to the Dreamchasers track, “Tony Story Pt. 2” produced by Boi-1da, Meek continues to tell the story of the gangbanging lives of Tony and Pauly over a goosebump-inducing beat as dark as the Winter Solstice.
Where Meek Mill succeeds just as much is over the Lex Luger-ish style of beat that his boss, Rick Ross, thrives on, as well. On “Believe It”, Meek’s near-yelling style of rhyming fluently rides with the dark and upbeat beat all while Rick Ross updates his terms for cocaine.
“I got a bad bitch in my chevy, sellin’ Miley Cyrus in my brand new Monte Carlo/ I got that Justin Bieber, please believe it, a quarter million hangin on my collar”
Meek continues to let his younger side show on a slew of tracks bragging about his bottom to the top story (and rightfully so) on “Young & Getting’ It”, “Polo & Shell Tops”, and “Young Kings”.
“Lay Up”, with MMG group members Rick Ross, Wale and R&B crooner Trey Songz is undoubtedly going to be all over the airwaves within the next couple of months, and genuinely rides much better than some of the other MMG radio-friendly tracks.
The Mary J. Blige featured track, “Who Your Around” (which at least on an advanced copy is misspelled grammatically in the booklet and on the back cover), is where the album flaws a bit. On this track as well as “Polo & Shell Tops”, Mill’s delivery sounds a bit forced on tracks that express more feeling and emotion.
Executive Producer Rick Ross knows beat selection and track placement like the back of his heavily tattooed hands, though, and doesn’t let these tracks drag the album down as a whole. The album opens and closes on heavy hitting, rage-filled, trunk knocking beats. “Dreams and Nightmares”, the opening track, finds Meek’s harsh delivery over a stunningly subtle track just waiting to explode.
The albums close, “Real Niggas Come First”, puts an end on what is an impressive debut solo album from an artist who at first seemed like a better guest appearance than solo artist.
Meek Mill has made it clear. He can stand alone as an artist. Most importantly, he fits into the MMG mold much better than any other artist on the label.
There’s no doubt that Rick Ross understands it. He let Meek continue the “Maybach Music” series of songs on his own solo album; and Meek combined with Ross, Nas and John Legend to produce a track that could stand in a battle with any of the Maybach Music tracks. Wale was not granted this gift and it’s pretty doubtful that Stalley will get his own, either.
He’s not the greatest lyricist of his contemporaries. He may have tried to be too versatile with the wide range of styles seen on the one-hour disc. But there’s no doubt that this is a solid debut album. In fact, it’s one of the best albums of the MMG catalog.
Dreams and Nightmares is a great starting place for Meek Mill, and with a few slight tweaks, could have been a candidate for album of the year. But at the age of 25, Meek still has a long future ahead of him will more than likely live up to those dreams instead of a one-hit-wonder nightmare.