His first release since 2018’s Championship, Meek Mill’s fifth studio album, Expensive Pain, is the Philly native’s comeback. It’s just shy of an hour long, and the 18-track LP is a feature-heavy collection. So Meek’s inaugural headlining show at Madison Square Garden this past weekend was sure to be a star-studded affair. The party kicked off with the familiar beat from Nas’ “Hate Me Now,” interpolated in the Expensive Pain intro, “Hate on Me,” providing a solid backdrop for Meek’s energetic demeanor. The rapper’s knack for strong intros made the task of amping up the crowd simple — though it certainly helped that we’d just warmed up with performances from Kay Flock, Dougie B and B-Lovee.
After his rendition of “Ima Boss,” arguably Meek’s first radio hit which catapulted his career into the mainstream, Meek paid tribute to Championship with a surprise appearance from Fabolous, and borrows Nav for a performance of “Tap,” confirming the list of friends suggested on the act’s Playbill. Production-wise, Meek’s latest LP feels like a match for rappers like Lil Baby and Lil Durk, so the energy during the album cut “Sharing Locations” was amplified when the two rappers joined Meek on stage, before having something of a mini-set of their own.
Meek’s performance of “Tweaking,” which rides the buoyant melody of Blackstreet’s “No Diggity,” was a highlight on the album. However, the absence of Vory, who is featured on the track, was noticeable during the show, especially since his name was one of the first announced. Still, Bobby Shmurda and Rowdy Rebel delivered a crowd favorite that rocked the room, “Computers.” And sets from Fivio Foreign, A Boogie wit da Hoodie, ASAP Ferg, 42 Dugg, EST Gee, and Lil Uzi Vert served as a reminder that the pool of young talent working is as strong as ever.
A departure from the celebratory hype was Meek’s reflective tribute towards the end of the night, paying respects to lost ones: Pop Smoke, King Von, Nipsey Hussle, DMX, and of course, Lil Snupe, to whom Meek has dedicated tracks in the past.
Meek’s 2012 intro from Dreams and Nightmares remains a staple in rap culture and was the perfect outro to the star-studded, three-hour event. While balloons and confetti filled the Garden, Meek reminded fans that, if nothing else, he’s one of the best at putting on a show.