Slava P wrote this on the Chinatown bus.
It’s unknown what Meek Mill was thinking when he decided to sign to MMG years ago. With so much lyrical potential presented through an authentic street-centered lens, Meek could’ve easily found success outside of Rozay’s flabby wing. The most likely explanation may lay in the fact that the risks attached to staying independent were too great and the potential rewards were too tempting for the fresh-out-of-jail Philadelphian to not take advantage of. If you pass up the opportunity, you run the risk of getting picked up by a smaller mogul and becoming the next Ace Hood, or you wait too long and become a fetish for a soon-to-be mogul a la Pusha T. And as far as bosses go, you could do worse than someone who owns a national chain of Wingstops — the self-classified biggest boss that you’ve seen thus far. So the looming career risk of being label mates with Wale was ultimately eclipsed by the opportunity to be heard outside of the Philly streets, and make the necessary connections needed when the group inevitably falls out. It seems to have worked out well so far for Meek, who has released an acclaimed studio album and a pair of above-average mixtapes in the Dreamchasers series, as well as a number of guest verses that demonstrate that his potential. But the appeal of being the new kid in the public eye wears off quickly, meaning that you need to evolve or perish. With Dreamchasers 3, Meek Mill does just that.
Meek Mill’s signature hurried delivery has spawned rap imitators and parody twitter accounts alike, but in the hands of the originator it still manages to be an effective tool for harrowing street experiences and braggadocious claims. He manages to speed up or distort his flow at the appropriate times to keep the listener interested without falling into the tropes that have brought criticism upon him, namely the fact that he raps about his expensive watches too often. The key themes of DC3 are loss and success in the face of opposition, which are exactly the type of stories that a street rapper should be regaling us with. Even when he tries his hand at auto tune on a song like “Ain’t Me,” one of the album’s lowlights, the awkward sound is made less painful by being limited to a single verse. You get the impression that Meek, never one to be known for creating potent hooks, is testing the waters in an attempt to become more self-sufficient.
The highlight of the mixtape is the two song stretch dedicated to Meek’s fallen protege Lil Snupe. In the interlude, we’re treated to Snupe freestyling impressively about his meeting with Meek and winning a rap battle as an unnamed voice provides cues in the background. The song that immediately follows has Meek Mill rapping ferociously over a Boi1da beat in what seems like a triple-time delivery during some stretches. Although most have never heard of Snupe before his unfortunate end, its difficult not to feel a genuine sense of loss based on how highly Meek thought of him.
The biggest complaint attached to DC3 is its over reliance on guest features to carry a song. Although there’s no “Burn,” “A1” or “Amen” type features, parts of the album are inexplicably given to washed out New Yorkers of past and present (Fabolous and French Montana) and a bevy of young talent that doesn’t work well with others (Travis Scott, Cory Gunz, Torey Lanez). Jadakiss cackles with perfect execution and Rick Ross puts in work on at least 4 songs, but listening to Meek’s BFF Omelly rap kinda ruins everything. The saving grace of guest features is Nicki Minaj, who appears twice to steal the show. Its worth noting that one of the album’s best group cuts comes in the form of “I B On That” where … every, one, decides to, rap like, Future … to varying levels of success that range from interesting (Nicki) to skippable (Fab).
With a well-crafted approach and an exuberant boss in his corner, its hard to imagine a future where Meek Mill isn’t successful. Now all he has to do is stop rapping over his backing vocals during live performances.
ZIP: Meek Mill – Dreamchasers 3 (Left-Click)