He doesn't necessarily grow topically on this album, he's just grown in experience and it has widened the scope of his topical conversations and deliveries.
To a lot of people, Meek Mill is a lot of things, but to me, he was just another rapper stuck in the malformed void of unassuming deliveries, but he could always tell a story.
What has, however, put me off him; his voice - that makes it seem like he shouts at the Mic - and his obsession with forced commercial sounds of the moment.
It was either a Lex Luger type beat or something, and I always felt he could be more ingenious with his selection of his singles, but honestly, he never was.
However, for every “Tupac Back” that got on my nerves, there were Drake Collabs like “Amen” and “RICO” that truly sought to warm and warmed hearts in their favor.
Also, he always had the potential craft enviable album intros on profound beats that keep your head in the clouds, before he either runs off on you with an unnecessary beat switch on that same song or on the following songs.
I always felt him a polymath who wanted to do everything but without the range to expertly blend everything he likes or believes he is or want to be into a cohesive body of work.
I can tell you that being a polymath is a blessing, but it can also be unsettling. It’s like a perpetually-charged battle against oneself to be the best one can be while fighting to not destroy oneself in a continuum of fell swoops.
While albums like "Dreams and Nightmares" promised a lot, it was a chronicle of sparsely brilliant songs without a cohesion or glue. Something has always been off about Meek Mill projects.
They either lack balance to sufficiently succeed as on DC4 or seem far too scatterbrained despite being a collage of brilliant songs as on "Dreams Worth More Than Money," running on some wonderful production.
It was probably not a coincidence that "Dreams Worth More Than Money" coincided with a great win in his personal life with rap superstar, Nicki Minaj.
Meek Mill has never been a poor writer stuck on poor topics, but his stories always felt plucked from the same place and it seemed like he was too scared to go into that place where the real madness is hidden.
Be careful, this review might not agree with you but read with an open mind. First off, shout-out to Meek Mill for another wonderful intro, I owe you a drink in St. Baths when I can afford to pay my way there.
1. Meek’s relatively calmer voice represents his calmer centre;
2. Meek has grown. While he was never topically boring - on a per song basis, his topical range has relatively improved, and so has his articulation of old topics of drugs and the inner gang/trap life which now carry newer angles to them;
3. The album is however too long and some of the beats seem too commercially charged;
4. That said, while "Dreams Worth More Than Money" might be a better album on a song-by-song basis, "Championships" is a better album for its pure cohesive blend, necessary progression and wonderful navigation across production, topical conversations, tracklisting, features, and topical articulation across the album despite its length.
It probably had something to do with his mental state, after getting out of prison, fuelled by regrets of life choices while he was in the cage.
The best part of this project is that it succeeds in switches where his previous albums failed. His previous albums would have failed with the pitch switch from “Trauma” to “Uptown Vibes, “ a very experimental sound, as he would probably have followed with a song like “Dangerous.”
Instead, he followed with another really commercially appealing, but topically suiting and very inconsequential song with Cardi B, “On Me” which set the tone for what was to follow, in the Shawn Carter madness on “What’s Free,” - it was basically a revved up, yet soberly engineered lyrical mass murder.
I theorize that our very Uncle Jay showed up for Meek because he’s Meek’s OG who advised Meek to not show up for Trump.
Make no mistake, while Meek Mill is not a lyrical dud, as he spits rapid fire when he wants to, this album isn’t overly focused on lyrical masterclass, but more on pure storytelling, not meant to flaunt ability.
This is a project that operates more on the blend of lyricism with an ability to go at carefully selected beats to fuse into a well-crafted tracklist, and unintentionally reflect Meek’s ability to make an album that shines on a balance of everything than the simultaneous highs and lows of previous works.
This key reason that stood Jay Z's verse out. While Hov will forever stick out of any crowd, he particularly mirrored a sore thumb on this project, surrounded by the positive and balanced, but equally overlooked scarcity.
P. S: Jay Z effortlessly copped the ‘Best Rap Verse’ of the year.
If you didn’t notice the scarcity of lyrical mastery on "Championships" at first, it’s a credit to Meek. He created a brilliant camouflage without a consistent, overt show of lyrical excellence across each the track.
That said, Meek Mill spazzed on another jazz-esque rap beat for the title track, “Championships.” Surprising, no. Impressive, yes. It was speedball spazzing at ease.
The best part was how Meek ran through several topics on “Championships”; his mother, street kills, drug consumption, to his own mortality and a host of other topics without seeming scatterbrained.
He found his hue in the major weakness he always battled; himself. He weaved the complex patterns of diversity and came out brilliant because it was expansive, enjoyable and the concept of understanding wrong decisions and the consequences of same. “Pay You Back” is also banger - those 21 Savage ad-libs warm the heart.
This goes more to the execution of tracks, as against the highlighted shortcomings of previous projects than any speculative emotional issues.
There’s a victory with sampling, but in this box, Meek still tended to seem scatterbrained as his polymath tendencies again showed up in his lyrical content. He, however, conquered those tendencies, a-song-at-a-time with underlying relatable emotiveness, from which each different idea per song comes.
On “Championships,” it was his fear of wrong decisions and understanding of consequences of same. On “Intro,” it was the feeling of indestructibility, effused on braggadocio and introspect like a man back from death
On “Trauma,” he discussed cause and effect of decisions, through the black Judge who sentenced him and made him question his tribal allegiance.
The concept of humility shone on 'Respect The Game.' Even the three rules he discussed require understanding which only humility can afford.
An album filler like, 'Almost Slipped” also glides on the concept of admittance.
The one consistent factor through the album, his close affection for his mother whom he fears making sad or disappointed. That love morphed into smaller emotions, which were expressed in diverse topics and scenarios per track.
Songs like 'Splash Warning', 'Tic Tac Toe', 'Almost Slipped', 'Stuck In My Ways' and 'Dangerous' - good enough for a promotional single though, at best serves as fillers the album did not need.
But we do realize length means streaming money and money must be made.
One, however, wonders which girl Meek raps about on, '24/7'. While the song seems a destined single, Ella Mai sounds kind of off-key.
'Cold Hearted' might seem defiant, but it speaks more to the side of Meek that doesn’t want to get walked over. That part is common to every human being. While a lot might argue that 'What's Free' was the high on this album, 'Cold Hearted II' is the actual high.
Why? Ego is peculiar to human existence. At least, self-esteem is. Again, this album might not standout on a song-by-song basis like "Dreams Worth More Than Money,'' but for a cohesive blend and rewarding listening experience, without boring you, "Championships" might be a better album.
3-Worth Checking Out