We get a lot of records sent to us here at The A.V. Club. Fortunately, we end up liking some of them. In Playlisted, we share our latest recommendations.
Album: Dreamchasters 2 by Meek Mill (available now as a free download)
Press play if you like: Cutthroat rappers with peculiar voices; bulldozing beats; foghorns
Some background: Meek Mill does not have the voice of a star. On the contrary, he raps in an erratic nasal squeak that, even when he’s being dead serious, makes him sound like the funniest kid you knew in middle school. If the Philadelphia rapper’s Maybach Music boss Rick Ross is Robert De Niro, the towering, iconic presence, then Meek Mill is Joe Pesci, the scene-stealing character actor. When character actors turn enough heads, though, they can sometimes become stars themselves, and Meek Mill was too much of a powerhouse to play Ross’ second fiddle forever. Even as he climbed the Maybach Music ladder, he never stopped devouring tracks like the hungriest unsigned rapper, and that commitment carried through several feverish street singles last year (“Ima Boss,” “Tupac Back,” “House Party”) and one diamond-sharp mixtape, Dreamchasers. It’s a sign of how high his stock has risen that his follow-up, Dreamchasers 2, crashed the biggest download sites when it premiered last week, becoming by some metrics the fastest downloaded mixtape ever. (Of course, earlier this month there was another, perhaps more telling sign that he’s entered rap’s upper echelon: rumors that he was dating Rihanna.) Like many sequels, Dreamchasers 2 is more expansive than its predecessor and heavier on big-name guests, but even with so many A-listers at his side, Meek Mill never stops working like it’s a one-man show. Now that his moment is here, he won’t leave any doubt that he’s earned it.
Try this: Dreamchasers 2 is frontloaded with massive songs, including at least one destined for radio play (the joyous gospel flip “Amen,” with Drake and Jeremih), but the roaring “Burn” better represents Meek Mill’s M.O., and it features the mixtape’s biggest revelation: a cagey, improbably awesome turn from the usually dreadful novelty rapper Big Sean. Mismatched as they seem on paper, the two tag-team producer Jahlil Beats’ pyretic track like old war buddies, raising a lot of hell in just three and a half minutes.