Meek Mill - Dreams and Nightmares
Record Label: Maybach Music, Warner Bros.
Release Date: October 30, 2012
Meek Mill owes a lot of his popularity to Rick Ross with the latter signing him to his label, Maybach Music, and collaborating with the Philadelphia based rapper in a plethora of songs and even albums (Self Made, Vol. 1 and Self Made, Vol. 2). However, in terms of success, Meek Mill has done it on his own thanks to his unique and fiery delivery. It's also worth noting that Meek is one of the very few rappers that can appeal to fans of both mainstream and underground hip-hop thanks to his combination of hard work, talent and energy. Speaking of talent, Meek Mill has an abundance of it. However, he's been unable to take that crucial next step because Meek himself hasn't done anything different to deserve it. Both his flow and delivery has remained the same with little to no change from song to song and he's starting to lose that fire he once had. His debut, Dreams and Nightmares, greatly suffers from this slow and steady decline.
Dreams and Nightmares has some good production typical of a MMG project. However, that can only get you so far. The album starts on a strong note with the title track that splits into two parts with the first part starting off calm until the raging storm of the second part rolls in. It's a strong opener to an otherwise mediocre album. There seems to be a liking in mainstream hip-hop for these cold, unfeeling, yet hard beats which are used to make the rapper sound hard himself. This is evident in songs like, "In God We Trust", "Believe It", "Young Kings" and the last track "Real N***** Come First". Many will enjoy these songs but after a while, it becomes tiring to listen to. Auto-tune is used and whether you support auto-tune or not, on this album, it's used in the most irritating way possible with Meek and Kirko Bangz needlessly rapping with it on "Young & Gettin' It".
There are some great songs on here that definitely have replay value. "Traumatized" is a dark, heartbreaking story that fully encompasses the nightmare part in "Dreams and Nightmares" while "Maybach Curtains" features a strong chorus from John Legend and a good verse from Nas. "Lay Up" is romantic song that makes allusions to basketball. The song surprisingly holds up despite a passable chorus from Trey Songz and verses from Rick Ross and Wale that only take up space. In fact, many of the guests here just take up space with the aforementioned John Legend and Nas being exceptions. A good example of this would be the song "Who You're Around" where Meek and Mary J. Blige share no chemistry whatsoever making this track your typical rap song with an R&B chorus.
Meek is a great rapper with a lot of potential. His debut album however, is highly inconsistent. When he's not bragging, he's rapping about having a hard life which in all honesty is a pretty common dynamic in today's hip-hop. However, it doesn't work here since Meek seems disinterested with the flow of the album. All in all, this is a passable album that would've been great if it had better collaborations and if more risks were taken.