After a very strong run, it’s starting to look like MMG stands for the Mixtape Music Group. After releasing the classic Rich Forever tape, Rozay dropped the dope but not good enough God Forgives, I Don’t. This time, Meek Mill, the movement’s favorite son follows up his hard-hitting Dream Chasers 2 with his debut album Dreams And Nightmares. Unfortunately, the album dilutes its potency with silly radio reaches (“Lay Up”) chick pandering (“Rich & Famous”) South reaches (Kirko Bangz collabo “Young & Getting’ It”) and a lack of focus that derail what could have been a very strong release.
The production is there, but Meek is a very limited rapper with only one cadence and he loses effectiveness when he’s slowed down. The remedy for this would have been a tightly wound street thriller with younger guests of similar temperament to take advantage of that young, hungry energy. Instead, we have Meek turning in a Rozay-lite album that lacks the skill, polish and sophistication of the Bauce.
The album opens strongly with the Jekyll and Hyde character of the title track. Meek exhibits two different types of energy on the track and executes well. The menacing backdrop of “In God We Trust” is so strong that even at its slow, plodding pace, the bottom reins in Meek’s high-pitched rhymes.
“Traumatized” is undoubtedly the solo highlight of the album and exactly the right note that should have been struck throughout the album. The emotional tumult, earnest expression and vulnerability here come through like a punch to the gut. The track is flawlessly built around his narrative with atmospheric elements, perfectly timed echoes and beat drops to punctuate the piano.
“Believe It” is another one of those Rick Ross songs that is simple in construction with bottomless 808’s, snare drums, and horror movie ambient sound. You’ve heard it all before and it lacks that signature ignorance to really separate itself from the half dozen songs Rozay has made just like it. T Rick Ross, Nas and John Legend are featured on “Maybach Curtains,” the album’s tour de force. Legend is pitch-perfect on the hook while Ross and Nas continue their burgeoning chemistry on collaborations. Nas brings out the Rozay that should be rhyming for his age group, rather than with the kids on MMG. Meek just doesn’t have the worldview or the experience to fit in with these guys.
The Drake duet “Amen” is a certified banger and another example of why you should hold your best stuff from the mixtape instead of diluting your album with used material. Drake always brings his “A” game on these songs and you knew it was going to be a smash. You don’t waste that on a freebie.
“Young Kings”is a filler song full of retread lines and no real purpose. Wale/Rozay/Trey Songz song “Lay Up” is putrid. The less said about it the better. “I’d rather fuck in the light than make love in the dark.” ‘Nuff Said. “Tony Story Pt. 2’ has more of that “Traumatized” flavor as Meek flaunts his storytelling prowess. Mary J ruins another song on a young dude’s album on “Who Your (sic) Around.” “Polo And Shell Tops” continues the one hot one not rhythm of the album with hard rhyming and a solid hook. That pattern ends the album with the weak “Rich And Famous” and the dope, if done before “Real Niggas Come First.”
Dreams And Nightmares frustrates because at its best, you see what Meek Mill is capable of. At its worst, you see the the lack of faith they truly have in him as an artist, illustrated by so many out of his lane, desperate crossover attempts. They would have been better served locking him in the studio with Drake and Big Sean and other young cats and letting him bang out something hardcore and fun for their generation. They didn’t and ultimately Meek doesn’t deliver the goods on this. Ah well, we’ll catch the next mixtape.
3.25 Out of 5
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