Monday, June 29, 2015
MEEK MILL: TALENTED UNDERACHIEVER
Meek fooled us all, and we let him. He came out the bing delivering the kind of hangin-out-the-whip bangers on which his energy is transcendent, like all those lonely bunk-bed hours spent reading soiled Dean Koontz paperbacks gave him time to refocus and streamline his attack. Dreams Worth More Than Money is aight, but it's decisive proof that Meek is a singles artist. Meek makes albums like he's reading a pie-chart of demographic research. He either doesn't know how to make an album that's complementary to his skill set, or he's letting the MMG quality control inspectors meddle too much with the final product.
Someone needs to step in and save him from his worst tendencies. Meek's always had a penchant for sentimental first-person writing, which can be one of his strengths as an artist, but not when it descends into the kind of turgid balladeering of "All Eyes On You" and "Pullin Up." This more-is-more maximalism, where every album needs to be "like a movie," is the kind of structural defect we get when a huge swath of today's rap music is based on a misreading of Scarface (1983). Scarface knows it's tacky and garish and absurd. If it wasn't self-aware, it would be a mess of comical seriousness. What somehow works in the film - the schlock and bombast, the mass-market tragedy of Tony Montana - almost never translates to the rules of pop music, despite continued attempts by the children of Cuban Linx.
Meek thinks he's a substance rapper, when style is where he truly excels. Though generally good, his lyrics resonate more for the way he says them than what he actually says. No wonder that Bangladesh's contribution is one of the album's best moments. In a perfect world, Meek would choose only the kind of beats on which his style thrives: minimal, skeletal, and stark, emphasizing rhythm over melody so the raps are in the foreground. Meek needs Jahlil Beats to lace him with a Hell Hath No Fury. Irrespective of its critical baggage, this was the album where Pharrell ditched Chad and melody and gave the drummer everything. This is what I want from Meek: 12 songs, ~40 mins, no lovey-dovey Top Gun soundtrack corndoggin, just flows - impregnable, impetuous, frivolous flows.