Dreams and Nightmares

"Rapper" is a term that doesn't quite fit Robert Williams, the talented Philadelphia MC who performs as Meek Mill. He is a barker, a bellower – an heir to the tradition of Ice Cube, unloading his rhymes in a rat-a-tat staccato assault, at maximum volume. Listeners who know Meek from his Dreamchasers mixtapes and scene-stealing cameos on Maybach Music compilations will recognize the character in the title track on his major-label debut: a braggart with a chip on his shoulder and a knack for stacking up nifty interior rhymes. ("Did it without an album/I did shit with Mariah/Little nigga, I'm on fire/Icy as a hockey rink, Philly nigga, I'm Flyer.") In hits like the Drake collaboration "Amen," Meek cleverly tweaks sex-rap clichés. But on Dreams and Nightmares he mostly keeps things gritty, telling – that is, yelling – hardscrabble street stories, in a voice big and brassy enough to be heard 20 blocks away.

Listen to 'Dreams and Nightmares'

From The Archives Issue 1170: November 22, 2012