Brian Josephs is on the hunt for Meek Mill’s blazer.
What makes Meek Mill recognizable (and meme-able) is his caps lock way of performing. But at least it comes with a purpose. Within that high volume, he has the ability to make that well-worn narrative of beating the odds feel momentous, even if the audience has little connection to that struggle. Mill admittedly isn’t as consistent as he ought to be, but at his best, he’s a visceral representation of the young American’s dream. “Monster” and the “Ice Cream” freestyle remind you. So does “B Boy,” a refreshingly cartoonish follow-up in that vein.
It’s a clear attempt at a club single — that’s why you grab A$AP Ferg and Big Sean. Then there’s the video that accompanies it. The trio is in a house party pretty much looking like swag caricatures, and Meek Mill looks like Nino Brown’s seed. What makes this track stand out more than that overlong blazer (or is it a coat?) is the tension holds it together. “B Boy” plays out like an almost four-minute labor for oxygen. That’s mostly Sap’s fault with a production that’s physical with its bounce and yelps. Meek Mill does an obligatory introduction before ducking away for a nutty and extended Big Sean verse that moves from sex ed to your standard Sean-isms (“And I put everything in motion like I-N-G.” Sean-isms are the equivalent of a backboard shot: clunky but effective). The perpetually impish A$AP Ferg delivers his verse in a manner that’s both hermetic and eccentric — like he’s a rapping Street Fighter sound effect. Meek Mill, outshined by his guests, shows up at the end to cobble up a hook. What just happened?
“B Boy” benefits from this overall sense of immediacy. Mortality does have a stake here thanks to backstory: Meek Mill spent the later half of last year in jail, Big Sean got revitalized by “IDFWU” after getting his shine snuffed out by the sophomore slump and The Verse. All of this happened after “B Boy” was announced, but there’s an urgency here that makes it appear otherwise. And you feel it, even if you’ve never done a bid.