Meek Mill – Dreams and Nightmares
215 Aphillyated/Maybach Music/Warner Bros.; 2012
Day & A Dream Rating: 3.5 out of 5
BUY: iTunes  | Amazon

Back in 2010, Meek Mill bragged about his affiliation with T.I. and Grand Hustle – a telling sign of where the young Philadelphia rapper had made it. Up until that point, the Flamerz series had been the shout-rap rapper’s calling card and even then Meek’s status as prince of Philly was just that – in a stalemate. Then Rick Ross swooped in, guided his career into a completely street direction as a rapper who had come from bewildering circumstances to build his narrative and the 24-year old became the most sought after Maybach Music member. Two stellar mixtapes fueled the flame for Meek to actually have worthy hyperbole for his Dreams and Nightmares debut. Where the hyperbole leaves him after a little under an hour listen? In pretty solid ground.

Outside of Gunplay’s rashness and unpredictability as a persona and rapper, Meek is the most dexterous street member of MMG. His voice is charismatic, alarm blaring and easy to take on but the raw energy found in his previous releases gets sobered heavily here. The blustery 180-switch on the title track and intro is what sums Meek up in a nutshell in this arc of his life. He’s young and thankful for his riches but paranoid enough to understand it could be gone tomorrow. Hence the angst coming after the Maybach Music Group and the terror building up from there. Package it together with cuts such as “Traumatized” where he continues his frenzied nature in the bloodletting fantasy of gaining revenge on his father’s killer and you can joyride through the madness.

The sobering moments dive in and out of Dreams and Nightmares where the limelight shines mostly in light hearted production, not in Meek’s beloved aggression. Sure, “Tony Story Pt. 2” brings back the tense and dark moments that made the Dreamchasers original such a harrowing track but it lives in a weird context for a rapper who’s continuing to grow. Stretching out the summer banger “Amen” to the fall might not continue to give it life and the Kirko Bangz assisted and auto-tuned “Young & Gettin’ It” is rather dull considering Meek and auto-tune work on completely different ends of the spectrum. At least “Believe It”, the Justin Bieber name dropping banger with Rick Ross is plenty of fun.

Focus wise, Dreams and Nightmares finds a track for each topic, albeit at times it drags into typical subject matter and times. It doesn’t make Meek a singles artist, the Dreamchasers period already gave us glimpses of grimy, street brilliance but it does put him in a stance where he could have possibly crafted something great but merely made an LP to fit a quota. Meek’s “debut” LP feels like a necessity to listen to, only to determine where does his star reside in the young crop of hungry rappers.