Meek Mill's raps usually come with mortal stakes attached. It doesn't matter if he's in legal standoffs with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, digital standoffs with other rappers, or just taking aim at faceless haters; when his back is against the wall, he's capable of making any adversity feel like a third-act Marvel Cinematic Universe blowout. This me-against-the-world fervor is what turns songs like "Dreams and Nightmares," the intro to his 2012 major-label debut of the same name, into timeless anthems and his 2018 album Championships--released more than seven months after a long battle with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court--into a celebratory middle finger.
Meek Mill's ascension to hip-hop's major league was fuelled by endless headlines, creative about-turns, and high profile beefs. A colourful decade-long run that culminated in 2018's 'Championships', the Philly artist then seemed to take a step back, focusing on collaborations, and his extra-curricular activities. His first full length in three years, 'Expensive Pain' is a lavish, all-star return, one that emphasises his credentials as one of Stateside rap's MVPs while also illustrating the pitfalls that seem to come with that role.