Best Songs: Traumatized, Amen
Timing is everything especially in rap. Meek Mill has had a hell of a run the last two years playing second in-command to Rick Ross in the MMG universe. With his last two mixtapes Dreamschasers and Dreamchasers 2 producing a stream of street bangers, Meek positioned himself as the anti-Drake, all while co-existing with Drake (he was on Drake’s Club Paradise tour). I for one have been a huge Meek fan and when I think of it I can’t really pinpoint why. He’s not a punchline rapper. He’s not even witty or even that technical as a lyricist. His beat selection has consisted of “fruity loop bangers”, the kind you can readily find on Soundclick. So what is it about Meek? It’s his raw energy. His vocal performance which may make some listeners cringe cuts through almost any beat you put in front of him like a rottweiler eating a piece of premium sirloin. It’s fair to say Meek’s strength has been his unrelenting rawness and ability to clear a pocket in any beat. The question is can he translate what he did on his mixtapes to a commercial album made for mass consumption? Let’s hit the break down and find out.
1. “Dreams and Nightmares” (Produced by Tone the Beat Bully)
I wish Meek didn’t release this a week early as it would have had more of an effect but Kendrick’s album dropped and Meek thought he needed to get his buzz up. What is dope about this is that the production switches to something we’re more use to hearing Meek on. It’s a cheap trick but Meek uses it to his advantage to detail the dreams and nightmares on his way to the top. What’s shitty about the beat flip is that it sounds exactly like the intro on Dreamchasers 2 mixed with Young Jeezy’s Trap or Die.
2. “In God We Trust” (Produced by Black Metaphor)
So this is the second song on your debut album? A beat that sounds like an old Jeezy or T.I. beat from 2006. Another thing you’ll notice is Meek isn’t as high pitched as usual, he’s probably become aware of the internet forum’s haste for his yelp and is putting more bass in his voice. It reminds me of a frustrated dad yelling at his kids trying to get them to come take out the trash.
3. “Young and Gettin It” featuring Kirko Bangz (Produced by Jahlil Beats)
When I first heard this I was like WHAT THE FUCK? It sounded so horrible. Meek isn’t even doing that sing-songy-rap thing Lil Wayne and Future do, he’s actually rapping the way he normally does. So why on Earth would you put autotune on it and then say “Hey let’s turn up the retune speed all the way up? More questions: Why would you get Kirko Bangz, a world class Drake impersonator, to do the hook when you could of just got Drake? Why? Why? Why? I honestly have no idea. But I will admit it doesn’t sound as bad as I initially thought. This song will probably make for some memorable nights in the club for the next few months.
4. “Traumatized” (Produced by Boi-1da)
Ahhh how do you go from a party song to a song about wanting to kill your father’s murderer? Where’s Rick Ross with his usually great sequencing help? Anyway, this is actually a great Meek Mill song with substance because it adds so much to his story and I’m glad he saved it for the album. You will definitely get chills when he says, “You ripped my family apart and made my mommma cry”.
5. “Believe It” (Produced by Young Shun)
This isn’t “I”m a Boss” part 2. It’s sort of a cheaper version of “Tupac Back” except the methaphor involves Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus. Thank you Meek and Ross for helping me associate two teeny boppers with crack as if my mind wasn’t full of plenty of random associations as it is.
6. “Maybach Curtains” (featuring Nas, John Legend and Rick Ross) (Produced by DJ Infamous, The Agency)
I don’t feel good about a song with “Maybach” in the title that isn’t produced by Justice League. And yes, Nas kills it. But this song is a snooze.
7. “Amen” featuring Drake (Produced by Key Wane, Jahlil Beats)
One of the standout tracks from Dreamchasers 2 gets upgraded to album cut because…well Drake’s on it. If Meek’s going to resort to this, he might as well put “I’m a Boss (Remix)” as a bonus cut. This is a decent record and shows exactly why you don’t want Drake on your album because 99.9% of the time he’s going to have a better verse than you.
8. “Young Kings” (Produced by Lee Major)
Did Meek record these vocals in a Philly basement? Because the vocal mix on this sounds horrible. Is this supposed to be one of those rap albums you find on soundclick?
9. “Lay Up” featuring Wale, Rick Ross and Trey Songz (Produced by Kane Beatz)
If you follow my twitter you know I’m not the biggest Wale fan. What makes this thing even worse though is that it’s a “girl song” featuring Wale, Rick Ross and go-to-cheesy-R&B-guy Trey Songz. If you believe Meek, Wale and Ross make great “girl songs”, then you must orgasm every time “Bag of Honey” comes on. Oh and yes the chorus is filled with hot sticky cheese.
10. “Tony Story (Pt. 2)” (Produced by Boi-1da)
Is this song about Scarface? No. Okay. Is this the state of story telling rap in 2012? No. But it’s still sad that Meek wants to pass off a straightforward ‘hood story you’ll see on a made for BET movie as something that great story telling rappers like Kendrick Lamar, Nas or even Joe Budden do. What happened to good story telling songs like this?
11. “Who You’re Around” featuring Mary J. Blige (Produced by Tommy “TBHITS” Brown, Travis Sayles)
Meek delivers one of the most realest verses on the album actually mentioning real names to describe what it’s like to fall out with friends as a result of your new fame. Even though Mary J. Blige shows up to do chorus duties, I’m not feeling it right now. It seems so hokey to have a hook that warns you to watch out who you hang out with. What am I in kindergarten?
12. “Polo & Shell Tops” (Produced by Cardiak)
Normally Meek would use a beat like this to exclaim how much he’s killing other rappers, here he uses to describe his hunger as a kid who just wanted some polo shirts and shell top Adidas shoes. This is truly forgettable stuff and I still think shell tops are ugly.
13. “Rich & Famous” (featuring Louie V) (Produced by Jahlil Beats)
On Dreamchasers 2, Meek helped introduce the world to Travi$ Scott, who after doing some checking up on is poised to be YoRapper’s next favorite rapper, here Meek introduces us to some dude named Louie V (which should tell you enough) who delivers one of the most generic choruses in rap history. How this made it of the cutting room floor is beyond me.
14. “Real Niggas Come First” (Produced by Kenoe, Got Koke)
Meek finishes his debut album with a beat that sounds strangely similar to Rick Ross’ Pirates speaking about his preference for men. Wait what? Yeah apparently he puts real niggas first, dope boys second and fly niggas come third. Hey I didn’t write the song.
What a let down. All Meek had to do to was make 10 “I”m a Boss”‘s and 2 “House Party”‘s and I along with the majority of Meek fans would be happy. For Meek timing has been on his side, but it sure isn’t anymore as dropping an album like this especially after K.dot’s mega opus isn’t going to cut it. The production is sub-par. You can actually find better beats on soundclick. There isn’t one beat I want to play over and over again in my car and get ratchet to. There isn’t one good chorus I want to play in my car and get ratchet to. There isn’t one song I’ll be asked to play over and over again when I’m randomly asked to dj a house party, much like “House Party” was a year and half ago. Meek what the hell happened?
I do get that Meek’s trying to explain his story here, but he’s just not good at it. It just doesn’t make sense to have your whole career making one type of song and then make an album filled with a whole bunch of other types of songs. There isn’t one “hype song” on here, which has been Meek’s strong suit. If Meek’s trying to be taken more serious as an artist he’s going to have to do better than resorting to feigned deepness and spewing played out street wisdom. Unlike DMX who used his rawness to display not only his street savvy but also his spiritual and radio friendly side, Meek is going to have to better figure out how to channel his gritty rawness into an album format.