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Meek Mill, Dreams and Nightmares

It’s fitting that the last verse on Meek Mill’s Dreams and Nightmares states, “Niggas hatin’ on me, know they wanna be me/At the table with my niggas, eatin’ lobster and linguini.” Aside from boasting about his seeming affinity for seafood—just like MMG’s big fish Rick Ross—Meek trades in his long road of struggle and despair with triumph. Over the past 18 months, the yelping spitter out of North Philly has gone from a local upstart on Berks Street (“with them nappy braids that lock”) to XXL’s 2011 Freshman and now Maybach Music Group’s gros bonnet—strapped with a boiling buzz near spillage.

“I used to pray for times like this, to rhyme like this/So I had to grind like that, to shine like this,” Meek rightfully avers over the strings and piano strokes of the album’s title track. The “this” represents a moment of victory, or “Dreams,” he’s yearned for since displaying that fervent hunger on street-lauded mixtapes in Mr. Philadelphia, Flamers and the Dreamchasers series. Skillfully balancing the two worlds, he swiftly segues into the stormy “Nightmares” portion of the track, in which he sounds almost possessed (“It was something about the Rollie when it first touched my wrist”), hounded by demons of the past while shooting incandescent claims (“I’m ridin’ around my city with my hands strapped on my toast/’Cause these niggas want me dead and I gotta make it back home”).

If his MMG boss’ rags-to-riches ode sounds much more like a hammy motion picture, Meek’s street-ridden recollections make for a more realistic documentary. This shadows all over Dreams and Nightmares, an album that finds Meek exhibiting a dichotomy between achievement and the tainted journey. Despite his newfound wealth, the Philly rapper steers clear of the associated fame and its pitfalls while boastfully wears his Audemars Piguet watches. When these moments come together, they make for the album’s unmistakable highlights.

It’s perfectly exemplified on “Traumatized,” where Meek brings in a new level of emotion and vehemence detailing his grief-stricken past. The hallow clangs provides the perfect space for him to offer a harsh warning to his father’s murderer. Elsewhere, Meek keeps with the dreams and nightmares motto, displayed on tracks like the Cardiak-produced “Polo & Shell Tops,” “Maybach Curtains,” and the Mary J. Blige-assisted “Who You Around.” The latter finds the vocally animated MC meditating on personal friendships gone awry—mostly with those he’s shouted out on past mixtapes (B.H., Dat Nigga Lil, etc.). “Shit got realer, niggas got richer I said the money train coming, niggas missed it/ I even tried to spin back around to come and get you/ But niggas wanted more from me than my own sister,” he vents over the airy record.

His skill as a storyteller is succinct and clearly has an eye for detail, which is why records like “In God We Trust” as well as the street narrative “Tony Story, Pt. 2” deserve, repeated listens. And when he’s not detailing the struggle, Meek’s surely living the dream, as Ross enters on the rollicking “Believe It” cut, along with two additional appearances (“Maybach Curtains” and “Lay Up”).

In interviews, Meek described wanting his debut to be a classic in the vein of masterworks from Nas (Illmatic), Jay-Z (Vol. 2… Hard Knock Life) and 50 Cent (Get Rich Or Die Tryin’). Unfortunately, this effort falls short in comparisons. While there are indeed high moments, Dreams and Nightmare doesn’t offer anything refreshing and instead delivers recycled approaches used on previous MMG compilations and his much thrilling Dreamchasers series. The lyrical tenacity showcased on these aforementioned projects doesn’t seem to appear here either as on the Kirko Bangz-featured “Young & Gettin’ It,” along with the frowned-upon auto-tune use, finds Meek delivering aimless lines like “Eat the pussy I prolly/If it smell like water.” It sticks as a guilty pleasure, but nonetheless stands as a lowbrow moment.

Dreams and Nightmares doesn’t break new grounds in hip-hop, however it does serve as a respectable release from the rapper who’s on the verge of universal acceptance—a road similarly traveled by his cohorts Rick Ross and Wale. —Ralph Bristout (@RalphieBlackmon)

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  • Big Sean John Jonesenheimer

    XL rating was clearly throwing MMG a bone because XXL didnt want to tear apart the work of someone who is the wingman of the biggest current figure in hip hop. album was super weak and xxl didnt want to say it. they have 3 rankings that make up the final rank and 2 of the 3 were L not XL but it still gets an XL rating, riddle me that?

    • Walid

      Man Stfu u hatin right now album was dope with some real shit on it

      • http://www.facebook.com/PhillyMu Muneer Smith

        Walid, you need to STFU with that immature response to a comment that makes valid points. In fact, your immaturity speaks to why you think this album is so dope, I’m guessing you gotta be in high school. Meek is passionate about what he does, and yes, he DOES spit that real shit… That doesn’t mean this album isn’t extremely flawed. That “Young & Gettin’ It” track is fucking horrible. This should’ve gotten a L rating.

        • Walid

          Okay so i’m guessin that u are making a statement about the album just because of young & gettin it , i think that shows how versatile he cold be & meek is more a mixtape raper and this is a debute album , yea i’m in highschool and i ain’t even gonna respond to u’r acusations .

          • Walid


          • Andrew

            You should make another 20+ corrections to your statement.

          • http://www.facebook.com/blackamish Lori Roberts

            Please stay in school!

        • Humble

          Would you tell some1 to “STFU” to their face? You just sounded like a coward. This is an opinionated forum to discuss music. Lets keep it civil

    • http://www.facebook.com/Chosen1jackpot Alvin JpOne Hill

      Makes perfect sense to me… Don’t add up.

  • CrossTheCritic

    The album was just ok. It wasn’t good. It wasn’t bad. It was just ok, and I’m confused by the math used to score the album. This is the same stuff Meek always does and that’s the issue with this album because you can damn near cut and paste every Meek track like Believe It and get the same results.

  • CedricFromBaltimore

    Definitely deserves a L but what do you expect? Album is subpar and he should’ve put out a better effort.

  • Murdateam187


  • Sosa

    Album was obviously lukewarm but got an XL…oh ok.

  • lil guest

    this album sounded like a mixtape

  • Jarvis

    XXL proves once again why I no longer subscribe. They refuse to give a true review to MMG or Young Money. This was an L without a doubt. How can the lyrics be an XL when Meek says the same stuff over and over again!?

  • Hussle

    XL?????? lol more like M or L

  • JustSayin

    XL for lyrics?! gtfoh

  • http://www.facebook.com/greg.patchin Greg Patchin

    what do u have to do to get a xxl in this mag this is the album of the year right here

    • kidemm@gmail.com

      you have to do a album like “Good Kid, M.a.a.D. City.”

  • CanYouAllHearMe


  • jbagsrizzo

    album is crack case closed end of story

  • Slick215

    yall niggas hating on Meek yall really dont understand hip hop and real music

    • Amario

      fuck outta hear i aint even herd dis yet and i can tell shit super wack. MY theory is, anyone of these 22+ rappers aint shit. these niggas get 1 hint of money and cease to give a fuck bout what dey puttin out. honestly, you can change the “mmg” logo to “Wale” cuz thats tha ONLY nigga i fuck wit. i hit the record shop and i can actually feel good bout droppin 15 on a album. not ross stupid ass, not meek, not gunplat goofy ass, nobody. check tha evidence.

      hope you can see my vision.
      next time you look down on a nigga

  • BrianRaider

    I Think To Still Deliver A Album Like This After Such A Big Mixtape Is Helluva Rozay Did The Same After Rich Forever!

    • chris

      rich forever was better than gfid, just like dreamchasers 2 was better than this

      • raytarded

        LOL Rich Forever is NOT better than GFID! Go back and listen thru the whole album while paying more attention to every track!!

  • thatboyshortt318

    You know they wanted to give this a L.

  • SS87

    How in the world could lyrics get an XL when his bars are generic as they come, and he has 1 flow and ONLY 1 — MONOTONOUS YELLING. Is this dude’s studio located in the middle of a football field or something???

  • Boone

    XL for lyrics? ha

  • Swagger Titan

    first mgk’s album, now meeks? damn XXL is just handing out XL ratings when they deserve an L based on their OWN ratings.

  • http://www.facebook.com/izzy.reynard Izzy Reynard

    How do two Ls and a XL lead to a XL? Shouldn’t it be a L then?

  • BE91

    DreamChaser 2 went waaaay harder. It seems like something was missing from this album. And their weren’t any “stand out” songs on it besides the “Intro (Dreams & Nightmares)”, “Traumatized” and “Burn” (which was from the DreamChasers 2 mixtape. I’d rate this an L and thats me being nice. Super weak. Keep yall money and just download this for free lbvs

    • BE91

      *there (not “their”)

  • Amario

    Yo one more thing, xxl is a dick riding stupid ass website that dont really grade rappers on what they put out, they just dick ride like some bitches. fuck xxl. really yall niggas aint shit no more cut my subscription i want my $20 back bitch. dont play wit me i know where da main office is. half a yall staff aint even black…how is a hip hop magazine ran by a white woman?????? dont MAKE NO SENSE MY NIGGA

  • drugmoneysick


  • ggtgt

    dreamchasers 2 shouldve been his album

  • WhereIsMy304s

    The beats are better than the lyrics on this album. It’s like Meek is yelling his lyrics out but this album was an L overall. Both Dreamchasers 1 & 2 are better than this.