Sometimes, the best championship celebrations are the ones in which you had to endure a bunch of s**t to get to where you needed to get to. In Meek Mill’s case, he’s practically seen it all up into this point: We’re talking romantic relationships with pop’s elite, jail-time, deadly beefs, and money so tall, all the b*tches wanna fall! This is one of the many reasons I think his new Championships album could end up being one of the most intriguing releases this year.
HONORABLE MENTION. INTRO Knowing Meek Mill’s history of making fire intros, you should’ve known “Intro” would be fire! Production-wise, what you get on it is a mixture between Phil Collin’s classic “Feel It In The Air” and Meek’s “Dreams & Nightmares” beats. Content-wise, Meek lets loose, challenging his competition, giving the hand to those who didn’t stick with him when he was down, and bragging about a variety of things such as his women-getting ways and having serious cash in his name. Much like his past intro tracks, the Philly native gets more and more aggressive as the song goes on, prompting your heart to feel like it’s ready to jump out of your chest while you’re listening to it.
“Trauma” has so much raw passion. Matter of fact, on it, Meek actually sounds like he was ripping his shirt off while he was laying down his verses. With the subject-matter behind the song revolving around his jail woes, his ranting makes all the sense in the world.
Despite his anger, Meek does a great job of piecing his words together on this song, as he tries his best to describe the feelings, process, struggle and frustration that came with dealing with law enforcement. He also puts dudes onto game when it comes to understanding the crooked ass system we all live in. Will I be bumping this song during pre-game this weekend? Probably not, but when it’s all said and done, I think it’s an important track when you talk about the overall message behind the album.
4. GOING BAD
We all know the story behind Meek Mill and Drake’s beef: It was sparked by ghostwriting claims, and from there, it turned it to this overblown back and forth that I thought was pretty overrated when it came to the entertainment side of things. However, before the two began sparring, they made a couple of really good records together (“R.I.C.O.” and “Amen”). On Championships, the two heavy-weights decided to link up once more, looking to reclaim some of that collaboration magic they once had in the past.
Interestingly enough, the chemistry between Meek Mill and Drake on “Going Bad” is very good! Drake starts things off with this cocky ass verse that has him f**king around with some interesting sounds rapping-wise, and content-wise, he reminds the world how much of a boss he is with some of the cockiest lyrics you will hear in your life. From there, Meek takes the baton, dropping this somewhat laidback verse that has him strong-arming his competition, confirming how tight him and the 6 God are once again, and boasting how good he is in his hood. though the track is one of the least dynamic on the album, I think it is one of the most trill.
3. OODLES’ O NOODLES BABIES
When you allow Meek Mill to vent, he is one of the best rappers in the game.
Ever since Meek Mill has been dealing with his court issues, he has been one of the hood’s most outspoken players. He simply hasn’t minded speaking up about a myriad of issues such as police brutality or bad decision-making by individuals in the hood, showing no fear in attacking each situation with nothing but the brashest of words. In “Oodles & Noodles Babies,” that is exactly what you get from the Philly rapper, as he does nothing but speak his mind about the past, present and future using this spirited rap approach over this old school instrumental. I think the track falls directly in line with what he does best, especially when you consider how much passion the combination between him and the beat were able to achieve.
Really, this song, “Championships,” “Respect The Game” and “Cold Hearted II” all sound similar to me.
We all love when Meek Mill is on his temper tantrum s**t, but in all honesty, some of his biggest hits are the ones in which he talks about f**king with a girl. In “Dangerous,” Meek takes this successful formula to another level, giving us something that is smoother than a Klay Thompson jump-shot. It features both PnB Rock and Jeremih on the hook, and they set the tone with this sensual sound that gets you in a lovey-dovey mood. From there, Meek takes over, dropping two pretty raw verses for us that has him fiending for the finer things that his woman is capable of providing. I say raw, and that is because he gets into explicit details of what he wants to do to his chick throughout (Sorta how he does on “Whatever You Want” from last year).
I’ma sucka for r&b/rap tracks like this.
1. WHAT’S FREE
Since Meek has emerged onto the scene, he’s always been one of those rappers that has tried to boss up every chance he gets; that usually means collaborating with highly respected rappers and getting approval from the legends in the game, and in my opinion, it doesn’t get more respectable/legendary than Rick Ross and Jay-Z.
“Whats Free” features a revamped version of Biggie’s “What’s Beef” instrumental from “Life After Death.” Because of this, you get the coldest version of Meek, Rick Ross and Jay-Z. Each touch on topics such as oppression, black empowerment, drug tales and hired shooters. I love the passion they all show on their respective verses, creating flows and caring less about saying something that might offend.
Did Jay insult Kanye on his verse when he said, “Don’t compare me and Kanye to Prince and Michael?” I’m not too sure about that… However, Rick Ross definitely insulted Tekashi on his verse with that ‘purple hair/racketeering’ line.
SONG BY SONG BREAKDOWN
1. INTRO (5/5)
2. TRAUMA (5/5)
3. UPTOWN VIBES (4/5)
4. ON ME (4.5/5)
5. WHAT’S FREE (5/5)
6. RESPECT THE GAME (4/5)
7. SPLASH WARNING (3.5/5)
8. CHAMPIONSHIPS (4/5)
9. GOING BAD (4.5/5)
10. ALMOST SLIPPED (3.5/5)
11. TIC TAC TOE (4/5)
12. 24/7 (4.5/5)
13. OODLES’ O NOODLES BABIES (4.5/5)
14. PAY YOU BACK (4/5)
15. 100 SUMMERS (3/5)
16. WIT THE SHITS (W.T.S.) (3.5/5)
17. STUCK IN MY WAYS (3.5/5)
18. DANGEROUS (5/5)
18. COLD HEARTED II (4/5)
I’m not going to lie, this album was very hard to rate… In one sense, I could’ve given you a top 5 list that featured nothing but club bangers, and in another, I could’ve given you one that had nothing but lyrical gems. It was that much of a Jekyll and Hyde, and I am undecided on whether or not I like that.
I am one of those people that thought Meek had lost his interest in being one of the hottest MC’s in the game these last couple of years. Remember, there was time where he had a point to prove to hip hop’s naysayers all over, and around that time, you got spirited verses like the one he dropped in “Ima Boss.” Fortunately, you get that version of Meek in spurts on this album. On songs like “Trauma,” “Cold Hearted II” and “Intro,” I felt like he was gassed up, rapping with the same hunger he had when he was on the come-up. I believe this is because he was foaming at the mouth to talk about returning to the streets after doing a jail bid. On songs like “Going Bad” and “Tic Tac Toe,” I thought he was on cruise control, sorta feeding off of the vibes both Kodak Black and Drake provided on their respective contributions, and as for songs like “On Me” and “Uptown Vibes,” I thought he was just f**king around trying to make something trendy. You can call the combination of the three motivation levels inconsistency, but I call it accommodating every type of rap fan today.
Production-wise, Meek made sure he rapped over updated versions of some pretty classic instrumentals: I’m talking “What’s Beef” By Biggie, ” In The Air” by Phil Collins, and “Dead Presidents” by Jay-Z. What I like about the instrumentals was that they sounded riveting, and when you add Meek’s passion to a riveting instrumental, you get something serious! Kudos to the Wheezy, Hit-Boy and Tay Keith’s of the world.
I thought the features on this album were pretty solid. What Rick Ross, Drake, Jay-Z and Cardi B were able to do on their respective songs was epic, as they each brought out juiced up versions of their already vintage personas. I also thought PnB Rock, Jeremih & Ella Mai were fantastic, bringing a level of R&B flavor that was high quality. As for the worst feature on Championships, that title goes to Future on “Splash Warning.” I just saw know point for him being on this album (He’s bomb the last two Meek album features).
Meek is a pretty frustrating artist to listen to: In one sense, he’s this braggadocios dude that loves talking about all of his luxurious items, but in another, he plays hood prophet, dishing out knowledge to the youth about how to stay woke to everything going on in the world. His two mindsets on this album sorta messes up the flow of it, making it hard to enjoy from start to finish. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the passion he showed throughout this project, and definitely think this is at least his second best project to-date.