Meek Mill’s Dreamchasers 2 mixtape opens with a particularly unhinged audio clip from one of the past decades’ most unhinged personalities—Mike Tyson. While Mill certainly has a penchant for self-aggrandizement, his boasts are (thankfully) set forth with more wit and self-awareness than Tyson’s uncomfortable promises to “eat your children.” Excepting their varying facility with the English language, Tyson and Mill actually have some points of commonality. Both used their humble beginnings as fuel for meteoric rises, though Mill’s talents suggest a far greater staying power than his pugilistic idol.
Last year, Mill signed to Rick Ross’s Maybach Music Group, an intelligent maneuver for Ross as least as much as it was for Mill. Whereas Rick Ross rhymes with a thundering bulldozer of a flow and a notable lack of subtlety, Meek Mill spits out verses with the whip-smart passion of someone pursued by the recent memory of remarkable desperation. As the man himself says, “The system made me stronger / Being broke just gave me my hunger”.
In order to function at his peak, the Bawse needs a foil, and he could scarcely have asked for a better counterpoint than the agile, effusive Mill.
Dreamchasers 2 is the (surprise!) second mixtape Mill has released in anticipation of his debut LP, and though the guest verses have taken a step up in the world (Rick Ross, 2 Chainz, Drake), Mill’s aesthetic remains essentially un-monkeyed-with.
Production by All Star and Key Wane lend Dreamchasers 2 a vaguely soul feel during the best of its 20 tracks. Meek Mill functions at his peak when rapping atop beats that allow for a certain deftness of touch and mid-tape diversions into stunting aggression (“Flexing” and “Lean Wit It” in particular) serve only as reminders that Meek Mill’s range is uniquely suited to styles other than those currently commanding hip-hop’s cultural moment.
“Amen”, “A1 Everything” and “Take U Home” employ spry beats and showcase Mill at his most fleet-footed. The MC’s nasal flow punctuates these tracks with a wit reminiscent of Kanye West’s early crowd-pleasers. “Amen” offers such worthy one-liners as, “Shorty wanna f*ck me, I lay back and rollercoast”, “I’m on probation, when they test me I pee Rozay”, and “Pull up in that Phantom, watch them bitches catch the Holy Ghost”, all within the space of a single verse.
At certain points, Dreamcatchers 2 betrays an internal conflict about how best to employ Meek Mill’s talents. Unlike other members of the Maybach stable, Mill’s shining moments aren’t really appropriate for the club, though Dreamcatchers 2 seems determined to push him in this direction. The real test, of course, will be Mill’s forthcoming debut. With any luck, that record will have the good sense to stand back and let the MC’s exceptional talents discover their own element.