Release Date: Jun 29, 2015
Record label: Maybach Music
Some rappers are brilliant because they make it look easy: the hooks spill out like involuntary actions, the rhymes feel naturally occurring. Meek Mill is not one of these rappers. After parlaying hard drives full of mixtapes into a spot on Rick Ross’s Maybach Music Group imprint in 2011, Meek has made a name for himself seemingly out of sheer will.
Dividing his sophomore effort between weighty, radio-aimed numbers and loud, Gucci Mane-styled party tracks, Meek Mill is a fine ringleader on his 2015 LP, his first since 2012's Dreams and Nightmares and his first since becoming Nicki Minaj's romantic interest. That latter bit brought the rapper a significant amount of public pressure as the semi-secret relationship lit up all the hip-hop gossip pages. Still, the unfettered Dreams Worth More Than Money swaggers with the utmost confidence, ferociously declaring its reckless supremacy during the Rick Ross feature "Been That" ("Just me and Junior in the Brinks truck/Doing all this shit we can think of").
Meek Mill raps like he's earned it. Whether you're familiar with Meek Mill the Philadelphia-based battle rapper, or Meek Mill the romantic confidant to Nicki Minaj, he's finally gotten his front page, mainstream introduction. Milly's been dropping hits since the end of last decade — he's got an oeuvre consisting of raw, hard shit built atop street-wise sensibilities and standout guest appearances, like last year's inescapable cocaine anthem from O.T.
Meek Mill's signature song remains "Dreams and Nightmares", the title track and first song from his first album. The rest of the album has more or less dropped from public consciousness, but the intro remains a resonant classic: When the song suddenly shifts tempo and mood, and Meek jumps into an urgent, bleating rap cadence (complete with lines like "all I know is murder" shouted with guttural intensity), he's introducing himself as the only rapper that matters for five minutes. The "for five minutes" qualifier is an important distinction: Meek's intensity is both the key to his appeal and his Achilles Heel.
Meek Mill has found success with enough silky, R&B-influenced songs that there’s demand for more, but there’s nothing like hearing the gloriously hard-nosed Philly rapper rip a beat to shreds. This is something he does often. On the long road to Dreams Worth More Than Money, his second album, the most thorough reminder of his skill was “Dreams and Nightmares”, the two-part intro and title track off his 2012 debut.
A week after I moved to New York City in 2012 Meek Mill celebrated his new album, Dreams and Nightmares, with a release party at Electric Lady Studios. Jay Z and Will Smith came through, each departing before Meek, Wale, and Ross even arrived, having successfully fulfilled their obligations to make the listening session a capital-E Event. And indeed, the full breadth of New York's hip-hop media was in attendance to celebrate Meek's highly anticipated MMG debut.
Dreams Worth More Than Money begins with Hip Hop’s most audacious sample of the year in Mozart’s Requiem in D. It then reappears after Meek’s voice blares in through silence as though come from behind a thick red and golden curtain. There’s an arrogance here, acceptable but pretentious, that personifies the Maybach Music Group. They are obsessed with antiquity, with lavishness, with kingliness.
Meek Mill is one of hip-hop's most powerful brag machines, hollering blunt-force boasts with desperate energy and uncut brio. His second LP begins with the epic "Lord Knows," where he furiously rhymes about his underdog climb to the three-comma club over a Mozart sample. Meek has a flair for internal wordplay ("Mommy was a booster, Daddy was a shooter/So they couldn't blame me when I went and copped the Ruger/Looking at my homey, see the ghost of Freddy Krueger").
Meek Mill :: Dreams Worth More Than MoneyMaybach/Atlantic RecordsAuthor: Jesal 'Jay Soul' PadaniaMeek Mill's second album "Dreams Worth More Than Money" seems perfectly coherent, yet makes little sense. The hitherto kinetic rapper sounds as though someone switched his regular coffee for decaf, and the 'street' within him has subsequently been kicked to the curb. Joe Budden's idiotic comments over the weekend about MM - Joe always comes across as a sulky, sexually frustrated teenager, even at 34 - were clearly inappropriate; but having listened to DWMTM now, you can at least slightly understand what he meant (albeit in his inevitably clumsy way).
When Meek Mill announced his long-awaited sophomore album would be titled Dreams Worth More Than Money around this time last year, it seemed to mark a transition in tone from the loud-mouthed MMG MC. For so long his narrative had revolved around the pursuit of money, the validation of fame, the escape from the nightmares of his upbringing in the rough streets of Philly. But this album, now three years in the making after last year’s six-month jail stint set the clock back once again, was to be bigger than the excesses and indulgences that come along with being a hip-hop star standing beside one of the game’s dominant forces in Rick Ross.
I like Meek Mill the person. He’s a survivor, a dream chaser, an inspiration for the underdogs defying the odds. I don’t like Meek Mill the rapper. It’s a statement that tends to leave others dumbfounded, confused that somehow I could find the Philly native’s rambunctious style and celebratory anthems anything less than sonic fuel.
The first 90 seconds of Meek Mill’s 2012 debut album, “Dreams and Nightmares,” are placid — no drums, just piano and strings. He’s rapping crisply atop them, contemplative but not preachy. The build begins. The beat drops. He goes from speaking to shouting. The effect is that of a missile ….