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Dreams and Nightmares
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As smart as is skilled Meek rode his shine with 2011's mix tape Dreamchasers which earned its place on XXL Magazine's "Top 5 Mix tapes of 2011" (#2), RapRadar.com (#1), and MTV who also placed the rapper at #7 in their Hottest MC list despite not having released an official album. Dreamchasers 2 came next; all of which set the stage for Dream & Nightmares. Asked what he's bringing and Meek replies "my hunger. I gotta get it, you can hear it...I'm trying to get in now." Dreams & Nightmares shows he's arrived.
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The beats on this album are no different than what was on Rick Ross's album or his latest MMG compilation that came out not too long ago. The beats literally sounded like one guy produced the entire project, which is sad because when I saw the production credits, every track was produced by a different person, which is preposterous because just about every song had the same bass line and drum samples that Lex Luger would've done (ironically Lex Luger didnt produce anything on this album). "Believe It" feat. Rick Ross is literaly the same beat from BMF (Blowin Money Fast), The first 2 tracks are way too similar in lyrics and beat to even count as 2 different songs and like I said earlier Meek Mill sticks with the same generic flow in every song; his volume, his tone, his range rarely ever changes whether it be a slow or mid-tempo song, and I'm just listening being appalled of how repetitive it is.
If I looked at the lyrics for a Meek Mill song online, than I would expect the lyrics to be in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS and EXLAMATION POINTS for all his verses because thats what I feel I am listening to when Meek Mill raps
By the time I'm finished with track 3, I just comepletely clock out and start skipping tracks quickly until the mood starts to shift into the slower songs like "Amen" feat Drake. When you compare Hip Hop albums by the end of the year with other artists, you will quickly realize that this album is mediocre at best and lacks originality or even a genuwine personality. I haven't heard an album thats this shallow in quite some time. The amazing thing is I was really trying to listen to the album and find songs where Meek Mill raps more introspectively so at least I can get a grasp of what kind of person he was growing up, but ultimately I just found that this guy is 100% boring as a person. The impression I got from Meek Mill is that he is rapping solely for money, not to inspire any of his listeners, not to put out any positive messages, but just putting on a front of being a tough guy or a ladies man 24/7. The only reason why I didn't give this album 1 star is because some of the beats (although extremely similar) do occasionally entertain me when I am driving blasting my speakers. I will never pay any mind to any of Meek Mill's albums again and I know that after a 2 weeks this album will undoubtedly be forgotten. If you want a project from the new generation of Hip Hop that has good storytelling, contains substance, and sounds cohesive? Than check out Kendrick Lamar's "good kid, m.A.A.d city" album or Ab-Soul's "Control System" which are easy contenders for Rap albums of the year.
Beats [A-] One of Dreams and Nightmares greatest strengths. Meek has found a few good producers that fit his flow perfectly. Overall the album has some excellent beats that will very easily get stuck in your head. Best Beats: "Lay Up", "Amen", "Believe It", and "Burn"
Hooks [B+] This wasn't the main focus of the album which is fine, but with a few good guest features Meek is able to throw some radio-friendly hooks into the album. Best Hooks: "Maybach Curtains", "Rich & Famous", "Lay Up", and "Amen"
Flow [A-] Meek sounds almost exactly the same in every song, but that isn't a bad thing by any means. Meek has a unique anxious and intense sound to his rapping that is really quite refreshing in comparison to other rappers out there. Best Flow: "Believe It", "Young & Gettin It", "Lay Up", and "Burn"
Lyrics [B] Rap cliche's out the wazoo on this album. Lots of lyrics about drugs, money and girls. But with the beats it works well enough, the time where meek shines the brightest is when he gets serious. Best Lyrics: "Traumatized", "Tony Story (Pt. 2)", "Maybach Curtains", and "Who You're Around"
Originality [C+] If you've heard anything Meek has done on Dreamchasers it's pretty much the same thing. On top of that, there isn't a ton of originality here, but it's still enjoyable, better lyrics would have been appreciated. Best Originality: "Lay Up", "Amen", "Traumatized", and "Tony Story (Pt. 2)"
Guest Features [A] Probably the place where this album shines the brightest. Meek knows very well who should be in what song and when there shouldn't be a guest feature at all. Heck, he made Rick Ross and Kirko Bangz sound good, that is a feat that not many people can pull off. Thank heavens Drake was the only Young Money feature on the album. Best Guest Features: Drake in "Amen", Kirko Bangz in "Young & Gettin It", Big Sean in "Burn", and John Legend in "Maybach Curtains"
Singles [A-] The singles were four of the five that really could have passed as singles (Lay Up being the fifth), but Meek dropped a few songs that really defined what the rest of the album was going to be which is nice because in music now a days the singles are usually the only songs worth listening to on the album. Singles: "Amen", "Burn", "Young & Gettin It", and "Believe It". Best Single: "Amen".
All in all Dreams and Nightmares by Meek Mill is really an impressive album that stands as one of the better rap albums of 2012.
FINAL SCORE: A- (9/10)
Author's Note: I listened to this album when it leaked a day before it was released and was not impressed at all. I downloaded it so I had something new to listen to going on a road trip. I listened to the songs "Burn", "Amen", "Traumatized", "Polo & Shell Tops", "Believe It", and "Young & Gettin It", and I was just done after that. I didn't like it at all really, but after a few weeks I decided to give it another chance which I then liked it a little more. After another couple of weeks I noticed the gem "Lay Up" and that I actually really liked "Young & Gettin It". After repeating that a couple of times I decided that I absolutely loved this album and am still listening to it to this day. It went from an album that I listened to half of once to an album that's now sitting pretty as my 20th favorite album of all time.
Call me a hater, but I know a good album when I hear it, truthfully, Dreams and Nightmares is just.......O.K.
"Dreams and Nightmares" finds Meek Mill rapping in a narrative fashion. Tone The Beat Bull provides dramatic production that allows Meek Mill to rap on `autopilot.' The intensity progresses upon the 1:30 mark inciting Meek Mill's vocals to grow louder and more passionate. Perhaps somewhat clunky, it starts things solidly. Proceeding "In God We Trust," features dark, malicious production (Black Metaphor) proving to be as pointed as Meek Mill's rhymes. Meek Mill continues to tell a story and produces quite an effective, telling hook. "In God We Trust" is overall superb.
"Young and Gettin' It," features standout Kirko Bangz serving as a `crowd pleaser.' Kirko Bangz adds a lift on the smooth vocal hook. The cut features solid production from Jahlil Beats and diverts away from Meek Mill's narrative approach in favor of a topic of `making money.' It is solid, though solid with the reservation that the cut feels like a `sellout' compared to previous cuts. "Traumatized," produced by Boi-1da, returns Meek Mill to what he does best, more narrative-driven rhymes. Not the most elite cut, "Traumatized" is easily above average.
"Believe It" featuring Rick Ross is predictable, but also addictive. Money and paraphernalia seem to be the agenda, with Ross referencing `Miley Cyrus' and `Justin Bieber' in relation to drugs. Quite similar to "So Sophisticated" from God Forgives, I Don't, "Believe It" is quite enjoyable. "Maybach Curtains" maybe stronger, playing as Meek Mill's version "Maybach Music," popularized by Rick Ross. John Legend assists on the soulful hook, while Nas and Rick Ross contribute on respective verses.' "Maybach Curtains" is easily one of the Dreams and Nightmares's shining moments.
"Amen" proceeds featuring Drake sports a smart Michael McDonald sample ("Minute By Minute"). Nearly if not blasphemous, Meek Mill thanks God "...for all the pretty women he let into my life/all the Benjamins you let me count...and letting me ball on these..." Meek Mill is most sinful on the hook, rapping a sermon in `hood vernacular.' Drake delivers, but Meek Mill locks down "Amen" easily.
"Young Kings" features soulful production and delivers another solid track with a potent hook. "Lay Up" once more features Rick Ross, alongside Wale and Trey Songz, who delivers the lush and sensual hook. The cut is predictable, providing the `sensual' thriller of Dreams and Nightmares. "Tony Story, Pt. 2″ is easily a `mixtape' worthy track that continues to hone in on Meek Mill's narrative approach. Absent of hook, Meek Mill pulls of the unbroken flow of verses well.
"Who You're Around" is more notable, featuring Mary J. Blige sounding as soulful and refined as ever on the memorable hook ("Somebody who you're around wants to clip your wings and shoot you down/but it's okay to keep enemies close/as long as you know, just make sure you know who you're around...") Meek Mill `steps his game up' by slowing his usual agile flow, which helps makes his rapping much easier to discern. On "Polo & Shell Tops" finds Meek Mill in top-notch form. Arguably the best cut, Meek Mill outdoes himself over Cardiak's exceptional production. "Polo & Shell Tops" allows the listeners to step into Meek Mill's world via his biography.
"Rich & Famous" features Louie V. feels more archetypical than not; it could have been omitted. "Real N**** Come First" closes the standard version with superb, malicious production from Kenoe and Got Koke. The Deluxe edition sports "Burn" featuring Big Sean, the latest single prior to the release. "Freak Show" featuring Sam Sneak and 2 Chainz is nothing more than `OK,' potentially making the standard edition the best investment.
Overall, Dreams and Nightmares is a successful, enjoyable album. It lacks the innovativeness of Kendrick Lamar's Good Kid: M.A.A.D City [Deluxe Edition] released one week prior and doesn't quite possess the `oomph' of Rick Ross's God Forgives I Don't [Deluxe Explicit]. That said, Meek Mill has more than enough potential to grow as an MC and Dreams and Nightmares gets him started. 3 ½ Stars.
Polo and Shell Tops
Who Your Around
Tony Story Pt. 2