Seeking a rap album for the end of the world.
Meek Mill’s new album sounds like the Apocalypse.
Not the actual, devastating end-of-days, but the cinematic equivalent we’ve come to expect from our summer blockbusters: a free-wheeling, no-stakes madhouse of destruction complete with swelling strings, chanting choirs and Earth-shaking war drumbeats that could bring a tear to Clint Mansell’s eye.
All the operatic flourishes in the world can’t save a summer blockbuster with a poorly sketched central character, however. There’s a reason we’ll go see Iron Man nearly die in space, but would rather not see the Green Lantern do the same. Luckily, for Meek and for us, this isn’t a problem on Dreams Worth More Than Money. Meek might have money now, but you’re never more than 5 lines from him mentioning where he came from.
Mill spends the entire album, whether he’s talking about money, violence or home, throwing out urgent bars that fly through the air like shrapnel. Previously, Mill has had issues with keeping up his, well, levels of intensity for an entire album. On DWMTM, he goes so hard for so long that it’s almost funny.
Meek Mill jumps on Swizz Beatz collaboration (that sounds very much like you would expect a Swizz Beatz song to sound) with "Classic." But instead of letting the summery vibes get to him, Mill immediately starts talking about drive-bys.
After an opulent verse from Drake on "R.I.C.O.," Meek Mill almost follows Drizzy’s lead, but then dives back into violent drug-dealing tales with the lines “All theses choppers poppin', niggas wildin', violence, why we even got to take it here/Why we even got to play these games/Run up on me catch a facial there.”
Taken in the context of our favorite fictional apocalypses, Meek’s constant bullhorn anger makes sense. Rick Grimes isn’t a happy man. John Connor doesn’t stop and smell the roses. Mad Max can’t reminisce; he’s got flamethrower-guitar players to outrun. Mill clearly feels he’s in the same camp, with no time to just relax. Every last instance of money-rapping is backed with either a wish that he’d spent more time with his family or a threat to anyone who thinks they can take that money away.
In short, the world is fucked and he doesn’t have time to smile.
And also like the men at the center of our beloved wastelands, the only thing that can bring Meek out of his gloomy headspace is his lady.
There are two Nicki Minaj collaborations on DWMTM, the Top 40-leaning “All Eyes On You” and the soon-to-be rap radio staple "Bad For You." They are as far from the pissed-off, street tough sound as Meek gets on Dreams and the former is Meek’s only major misstep on the album.
When Nicki isn’t involved, even the sex songs come across with a sense of the-sky-is-falling urgency. On "Pullin’ Up" Meek manages to make being some woman’s side dude like the final battle between Good and Evil, massive drums mark Meek’s coming while The Weeknd weeps for the world we lost.
The big rap releases this summer have been an all together gloomy affair. Earl Sweatshirt and Vince Staples have made convincing cases for the world’s annihilation (with I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside and Summertime ’06, respectively) and Meek Mill must have heard them. Because he spends the entirety of DWMTM rapping like he just wants to leave his mark before he sees a flash on the horizon and the ground starts to glow orange.