Meek Mill has come a long way from Flamers. The Philadelphia rhyme-slinger has grown tremendously in the last years, developing from a local North Philly artist to a major player in one of hip-hops hottest labels, Maybach Music Group. Since the Flamers series, to Mr. Philadelphia, to Dreams and Nightmares, Meek’s progression is evident, and now he’s delivered the third solid installment of the Dreamchasers series. Dreamchasers 3, hosted by DJ Drama, does what it’s intended to do, serving as the appetizer before his next full-length project.
Let’s get this out the way: The intro on Dreamchasers 3 is not as good as the classic intro off Meek Mill’s debut album, Dreams And Nightmares, back in 2012. That intro was nothing short of brilliant; the raw emotion, ferocity, and narration were on par with Jay Z’s “Dynasty (Intro)” off of The Dynasty Roc La Familia. However, “I’m Leanin’” is no forgettable track, blending Travi$ Scott’s futuristic synths and hypnotizing bass lines, along with Meek Mill’s unique delivery and the bravado of Birdman and P. Diddy into a molotov cocktail for the speakers. It’s a fantastic start to the mixtape.
The tape revisits many of the same themes and moods of Meek’s previous work, providing street ridden, rags-to-riches odes of hope and redemption. More than anything, Dreamchasers 3 showcases Meek’s ability to tell a story through intricate, specific details while still using his aggressive and brash style. It’s perfectly exemplified on “Heaven Or Hell,” a Tone Capone produced track featuring Jadakiss and Meek delivering bone-crushing bars, describing different paths a person can take to get to their dream. “Look, I got homies in the ground, skeleton and bones,” Meek raps. “And niggas doing life, they ain’t ever coming home/They said I wouldn’t make it or never see the throne/And my baby mama hate me cause she said I did her wrong/Cause I left to chase my dream, get it any means.”
The best moments of the mixtape are “Lil Snupe Skit” and the transition into “Lil Nigga Snupe.” Lil Snupe was an 18-year old Louisiana-born artist that got signed to Mill’s Dream Chaser record label after handing Meek his mixtape following a concert in Louisiana. It’s quickly apparent when listening to “Lil Snupe Skit” that Snupe was immensely talented. The late emcee freestyles for three plus minutes, changing topics effortlessly as themes get shouted at him from the background. It’s a thing of beauty. As you listen, you can only think, what if? You feel Meek’s grief and anger on “Lil Nigga Snupe,” one of the tape’s best tracks and an instant goosebumps moment. The track completely captures Meek’s conflicting emotions: You sense his fury and sadness as he raps with a slurred delivery that sounds both aggrieved and invigorating. This is Meek at his finest, transferring his emotions into your head through his intense delivery, especially on the hook. He effortlessly illustrates the dichotomy between peace and retaliation (“So what’s a nigga ‘sposed to do? /Tell ‘em put the guns down or tell lil nigga shoot?”). These two cuts deserve repeated listens.
While the tape’s beats can get a little monotonous at times, it does have gems. “My Life,” the French Montana assisted track, is one of them, allowing Meek to spit inspirational bars over crisp snares and ethereal synths. This should and hopefully will, play everywhere from radio to your stereo at extremely high levels. The rest of the tape is stuff you’d expect. Need a “Fuck your man, come with the winning team” record? Listen to “Dope Dealer” and “Ain’t Me.” Want a street record? “Rich Porter” and “Make Me” will do the trick. Looking for a club-banger to turn up with and French Montana on the hook? “Right Now” has got you covered. Are you dying for a real hip-hop record with Meek rapping like a maniac? Listen to “Hip Hop.” The tape has a song for whatever version of Meek Mill you’re looking for, however, overall, the tape never quite coheres.
Even though the tape isn’t game changing, it does show that Meek is very capable of making propulsive rap music that can also serve as hits. No longer is he only capable of making street anthems; he can actually churn out a vast array of records that will actually get spins. The growth is there. He’s using his strength, raw emotion and skill as a storyteller, and mastering his craft as an artist. However, this is far from the main course, just a table of different selections to temper the appetite. –Emmanuel C.M.