We all have dreams; we all have those aspirations of being great because that one day when we make our dreams become our realities, we’ll enjoy ourselves and bask in the moment and cherish what we’ve accomplished. We all have nightmares; after those dreams have been made, we fear that we can lose it all, and also the people from the bottom trying to take you down from the top turns from a little to a lot. We’ll also have our personal struggles that we’ve carried along the way while getting towards our dreams, so we’re haunted by them. Meek Mill‘s debut album reflects on living his dream and dealing with his nightmares, and because of the energetic flare that he brings, a lot of people have expected this to be a great album through and through. Meek Mill has had his course of nightmares having grew up in Philadelphia and his own personal issues, but this isn’t a biography, although the album is a reflection of who he is, despite having heard most of his story being told through his mixtapes (most recently, Dreamchasers 1 & 2).
With the Dreams & Nightmares intro, he starts off calm and less aggressive than what we’re used to. Essentially walking through his past and bringing it to his present, the struggles that he dealt with and dealing with people doubting his success right now. He uses his recognizable flow from his older mixtapes, but at literally the blink of an eye, the beat changes, and the thrashing aggressive flow comes out that we’ve been accustomed to hearing over the past couple of years. He’s always been preaching about getting to the money, because he’s very ambitious, and let’s be honest, he’s one of the most successful underground artists to come out because his buzz has been major. You don’t get 2 million downloads of one mixtape in a day for no reason, so it shows that he’s able to grind for his money. He has responsibilities and once you “make it”, the only way you can go is either up or down – if you let it. So, with the intro, you get an idea of just what the feel of the album will be; 2 parts – Deep & intimate (in terms of sharing his story) and loud & hype (club bangers). This was the perfect song to set the tone for the album.
In God We Trust is the motto on American money. Many believe that money is the root of all evil. Chris Rock had a notable quote from his ‘Never Scared’ stand-up movie, “All my life I’ve been looking for God and he’s right in my pocket,” and it’s the truth. You can only get so far in life with no money. It’s something that is essential, but if the O’Jays didn’t teach us about ‘For The Love Of Money’
People will steal from their mother
For the love of money
People will rob their own brother
For the love of money
People can’t even walk the street
Because they never know who in the world they’re gonna beat
For that lean, mean, mean green
Almighty dollar, money
I consider this song to be the rap equivalent in a certain way because of the message that Meek brings down to the average listener and people who could relate. Witnessing people back stab their own blood relatives and even closest friends all for the power of a dollar is a reality. Money rules a lot of people’s motivation in life, and Meek tells the story of some people around him that made decisions to determine just how they got it. Snitching is a big no-no for the codes of the streets. Many have broken that rule all to make a quick buck. It’s the reality that many have often faced, and this song is just a good representation of what people will do out of desperation for money.
Maybach Music has been consistent (sort of) when it comes to delivering big hits that are club bangers. Meek Mill has had a bunch on his own coming from prior mixtapes, when you look at just the past 2 mixtapes: DR1 – House Party, Ima Boss, Work, Derrick Rose; DR2 – Amen, Burn, Flexing, Lean Wit It, A1 Everything, Face Down, Racked Up Shawty. Meek is no stranger to the club scene and he’s been successful at it, so on the album, you know that there were going to be a lot of potential hits, but I was hoping that it wasn’t going to take away from what older listeners were looking forward to hearing.
Young & Gettin’ It is one of those songs that could have heavy rotation in the clubs (I wouldn’t know, I don’t club often anymore), but the use of auto-tune on this track by Meek & Kirko Bangz (I still don’t know what purpose he serves as an artist) was something threw me off, but I can’t lie, because of this day in age of rap music and catchy hooks, it somehow sticks to you, but this is more of the ‘club & car’ song that you would play this – not necessarily in the privacy of your own domain, but at the same time, it relates the theme of the album; I’m not using that as an excuse, however.
Traumatized is probably my favourite song on the album because Meek gets deep and expresses a side that many rappers from the old school have thrived on; talking about issues closest to them. Meek was in jail (I didn’t know that), talked about his father’s death and finding the man who killed him, and he’s been scarred since then. Also, the reality of people in your old neighbourhood who want to come after you because of your new-found success, so there are those issues that he has to live with. It’s really deep and personal, and the Meek Mill music that I appreciate and that many hip hop & rap fans would cherish because it’s real.
Rick Ross is the reason behind Meek Mill’s success and growth, so you know he had to get in a feature. What I DIDN’T expect was for him to appear three times on this album. His first appearance was on Believe It, and I guess he needed to make up for Black Bar Mitzvah because it was so…trash. This song sounded like ‘So Sophisticated’ Part 2, because it was essentially the same content, similar beat, and the hook will definitely be quoted for a long time (I got that Justin Bieber, please believe it). This sounded like it could have been just a bonus cut from Dreamchasers 2. Nothing special – club banger for sure.
Maybach Curtains is the 2nd time Ross shows up, but I think he just decided to give this to Meek and instead of ‘Maybach Music 5’ he just gave it a different title, because that seemed to be the theme here. This is the song that is like the coronation of making it to your dream. This was meant to be something epic and astounding because you have Nas having a verse & John Legend on the hook, but to me, it didn’t live up to the hype that it was supposed to bring. You can’t just force a song to be great, you have to let it come naturally, and at the same time, maybe this should have been placed maybe towards the middle or towards the end of the album. That’s just me.
I don’t understand why Amen was on the album, because it was on Dreamchasers 2 and has been playing in clubs for the summer, and just when people started to get sick of it, well here it comes again. Drake was the standout of this track because he did have the best flow. And, let’s be honest when you’re in the club and you hear this song, it’s pretty mandatory that you say “CHURRRRRRRRRRRCH! PREACH!” It’s catchy, but it should have just stayed on the mixtape, because it just brings the status of the album down to a mixtape level, and at this point, that’s how it’s been sounding.
Young Kings brings back the feel of the album that has been driving it. Constantly expressing the message of ‘get the money, fuck everything else’, Meek repetitively reflects on how much money he has, and putting on for his boys that he grew up with. It’s the same old stuff that we’re accustomed to, so it’s nothing special that really stands out.
Lay Up – in two words – Hate. It. Next song…seriously, there’s nothing I can really say about this song that will reflect it in a positive manner. The title and hook are a basketball metaphor, and again, nothing standing out from this one here. Rick Ross makes his 3rd appearance on the album and again…doesn’t say much. Trey Songz doesn’t do anything to help the song, and Wale? Well he does what Wale does. another ‘skip it’ on the album.
To be completely honest, Tony Story Pt. 2 was the main reason why people were anticipating this album. For those who didn’t listen to the first Tony Story, it’s a story of 2 guys were friends (Tony & Ty) but Tony killed Ty, acted like he didn’t, Ty’s cousin Paul suspected it was him, wasn’t sure, but then found out it was him, then plotted out his murder. When the perfect time came about, Paul found Tony and killed him- simple as that. So, when Meek said that there was going to be a 2nd one, there was a lot of people excited about that because the first one was pretty dope. It was like 50 Cent’s Many Men because the impact that it had been crazy and it brought back that real street vibe, so hopefully part 2 wasn’t going to be a disappointment.
It continues as Meek follows Paul and the aftermath of him killing Tony. Paul seems to be living the Godfather life – on top, untouchable, and powerful. In Godfather Part 2, Michael Corleone says to Tom Hagen “If there’s anything I’ve learned about history, it’s that you can kill anyone.” The same rule applies here and that was kind of the storyline driving the song. Tony has a little brother, and the streets (actually a WOMAN) have been saying that Paul did it, so of course his brother wants him dead (it’s the principle). After multiple attempts on his life, Paul realizes that people are going to be gunning (pun intended) for his life, so he’s cautious about his surroundings and he wants to get back at Tony’s little brother and show him a lesson. Basically at the end of it all, Paul & little brother get into a gunfight, and what you would think would end up being the triumphant revenge that was exacted on Paul, Paul actually kills his brother. I would have liked it to have been the brother getting revenge on Paul and seemingly ending the story, but MAYBE there will be a Tony Story Part 3. This one isn’t as climatic as Part 1 (it has more action), but you still get that mafioso feel like Biggie’s ‘Niggas Bleed’.
Who You’re Around is another song that has a true storyline behind it. I had the assistance of Philadelphia native, Rell. Shout out to him, because he provided quality info. Here’s what the breakdown of the song is through his words:
Second Verse – Basically the dude Lil he’s referring to was his homeboy from the start, because you know he [Meek] was in a group 1st (Bloodhoundz). So Lil was locked up for sometime & even though Meek had his troubles, he still always shouted his name out on his mixtapes because it was love. But I’m guessing something happened between the 2 of them after he got out of jail, because by the time he got out, Meek was already MMG. On the 1st Dreamchasers, the guys Mel Luv & Young Pooh were on there. They were all in the same group.
Friends become your enemies when you get high up top. Mary J. Blige is on a roll with the features, being on this one AND Kendrick’s album. Good for her. This song is about broken friendships, because money really does change people. We’ve all seen it, and we wish it didn’t have to happen, but sadly, it does. Sometimes, it’s not even the person WITH money that changes, it’s the people around you because they THINK that you’re going to change. Meek emphasized that before the money, it was all about family, and that’s what he wanted to continue with, BUT…it didn’t work out that way. You try to keep people around but they become greedy and try to take advantage of your fame, so you have to put a stop to that. Meek did. To be the one that makes it from the group of friends you have to deal with the fact that people will be envious and you’ll grow apart because of that. It’s just how life works. Even Jesus had a hater.
Polo & Shell Tops is not only a club banger, but it’s a deep track as well, because Meek talks himself as a dealer back in the day and all he wanted was some polo gear and shell tops (Adidas – they were popular, I had a pair or two). We all have a reason why we do things. When things are two expensive for us to afford, and our parents can’t buy them for us, we do what we have to do to make our own means of survival and in order to get the things you want in life when a 9-5 won’t cut it. The beat sounds exactly like ‘Lean Wit It’ and it took me a while to figure it out, but it’s still a dope track because of the content, so I didn’t mind it.
Rich & Famous almost got an instant skip when I heard the hook. I’m TIRED of auto-tune, I swear it’s so annoying. Meek was talking about a stripper and drugs so much in this song that I forgot sometimes which was a metaphor or reality. This track didn’t do much for me, and towards the end of the album, it’s as if the album is just struggling to find an ending. This song is mixtape worthy, but I wouldn’t throw it on an album. 3 verses talking about the same woman (or 3 women), but you get what I’m saying here. There’s nothing that stands out, and I’ve said that MULTIPLE times already.
Street rule number 1: Real Niggas Come First. If this is supposed to be the grand finale, it didn’t live up to its climatic approach. Again, another song that sounded like a Dreamchasers throwaway. Much like a majority of the album, it had potential, but didn’t live up to the excitement. Arguably, you could say that his mixtape was better, because at least he didn’t necessarily have to stay within a common theme. You would have thought that the album was going to stay within the title’s theme and focus on that, but it wasn’t creatively thought all the way through.
The truth is, I only liked 7 out of the 14 songs on this album. The only reason why I would consider buying this is because I’ve been a fan of Meek’s since the Flamers years, I remember when Rick Ross had signed him and how happy I was for him. I don’t know the guy, but you can still be happy. This album has a mix of ignorance and intimacy, which is probably what he was going for, but because of the placement songs, and the rollercoaster vibe I got from it, it didn’t come out well. The fact that he had a song from his mixtape on the album as well, ask J.Cole fans how they felt when he put ‘Lights Please’ and ‘In The Morning’ on Cole World. It’s a hit or miss when you add older songs, but the production as well lacked. I thought he would go out of house a bit more, but you know that Jahlil (Jungle) Beats is his boy, so that was a given. Production is one of the reasons why it feels more like a mixtape than an album. Meek Mill is lyrical, and you can look past the yelling and whatnot, but he has a distinguished flow that MANY have mimicked, so he has that going for him as well. It could have been better with better production, and even if he stayed with the similar content that he rapped about on tracks like ‘In God We Trust’, ‘Traumatized’ and ‘Who You’re Around’, it would have been much better. To put emphasis around the theme of the album title is essential. He had it, but then lost it. Again, I didn’t have high expectations, and I’m sure most of the album will be played at a local club near you, but as far as the album goes, it’s a disappointment. This is just me & my opinion, but for now
That’s My Word & It STiXX