Assisting Managing Editor
The City of Brotherly Love appreciates a great comeback story (see Rocky, the 2017 Philadelphia Eagles).
Despite trauma and turmoil of a controversial trial with a judge, Genece Brinkley, that the Philadelphia Inquirer reported as “being excessive and abusive with discretion of sentencing,” Meek Mill put together one of the best albums of the year.
I grew up in Chicago, only vaguely knowing of his early mixtapes, but I remember watching the YouTube clips, his passion, his delivery, the lyrics jumping out at me as a listener.
The young fiery rapper, making hits for the streets and the club returns home, more mature, still carrying the same fire of “Dreams and Nightmares,” with poise and power.
“Intro” opens with a sample clip from “In The Air,” by Phil Collins, the energy from Meek Mill jumping out. If this is not a hype song for the Eagles and other professional sports teams’ locker rooms, I would be shocked.
“Trauma” samples the 1977 song by Barclay James Harvest, “Taking Me Higher” to open the song. The first lyric is one that seizes at a raw emotional chord, “My mama used to pray she’d see me in Yale, It’s f***ed up she gotta see me in jail.” He calls out the police brutality, “They shot that boy 20 times when they could’ve told him just freeze, Could’ve put him in a cop car, but they let him just bleed.” He talks about the pain of prison, the mental anguish, and this socially conscious side of him makes his lyrics that much more impactful than before.
When I first listened to this album, there was not one song I skipped on this album. Each song is important to the themes of this album, growth, experience, expressing real emotion, surviving the worst and being better for it.
Bronx star Cardi B makes an appearance, a perfect match with Mill’s fast delivery in “On Me,” a song perfect for the club on a weekend. To date, I have not heard a bad feature of hers, and this one was not the exception.
“What’s Free” begins with more strong lines from Mill. Rick Ross features in the song, and while he used a word that is inexcusable in any song, the pair are dynamic. Jay-Z features in this song with a stanza that makes fans of the Brooklyn native reminisce back to his Black Album days. I didn’t publish an example but go listen to it for yourself, and you’ll thank me later.
“Championships” fittingly plays like a victory lap, a grateful Meek Mill looking back on his life so far, glad to make it to this part. The soul sample under a beat from Dario Productions adds another layer of depth to this song.
Drake and Meek Mill on an absolutely hot track would have never been thought possible three years ago during the “Back to Back” hype three years ago. “Going Bad” displays the talents of the pair, Drake providing his smooth delivery that contrasts with Mill’s verbal jabs over a great beat.
One of my favorite songs is “Oodles of Noodles Babies,” and with a great sample off of the 1978 soul classic “Love Changes” by Mother’s Finest, the throwback theme is strong.
It’s another cathartic therapy session for the Philadelphia native, talking about his childhood and his struggles that is very relatable yet strongly unique to him.
21 Savage pairs with Mill on the fast-paced throwback to DreamChasers 4, “Pay You Back,” and the feature by 21 Savage is perfect for the song. If you need a song for the gym, this is it. Honestly, the whole album is great for motivation, but this song especially fits as a hype song.
Overall, this is Meek Mill’s best album to date. He has produced great hits throughout his career but this project is his most complete. If this is the version of the artist we get going forward, blending socially conscious while still maintaining an originality fitting of Philadelphia, I can not wait to see what he puts out next.
Doug Pederson brought the Lombardi Trophy to Philadelphia, and I’ll be shocked if Meek Mill doesn’t bring another trophy to his hometown in February at the Grammy’s.
Email Cole at: