Meek Mill makes a comeback and takes a lap with his new album, "Championships"
A lot of music has been released in 2018 and, frankly, there was no way that I was going to be able to listen to all of it. I’d like to believe that most of you have that same issue. With the way that the music industry is changing, how can anyone conceivably keep up? Hell, I’m still trying to digest Chris Brown’s “Heartbreak On A Full Moon” 45 song album, from back in October of 2017. In any event, we at Lowercase wanted to pitch in by giving you a short list (over the coming weeks) of some interesting albums that were released in 2018, that you may want to catch up on. Hopefully, we can help put you on to some music that you may not have naturally gravitated to. Let us know what you think. We love your feedback.
To say that 2018 has been a tumultuous year for Meek Mill would be like stating that water is wet. Attempting to put the Drake feud behind him, the platinum recording artist’s inauspicious ways continued in 2018 when it was announced that he had split with his longtime partner, Nicki Minaj. Things took a more serious turn when the judge, presiding over his most recent parole violation, refused his various attempts to post bail, and deemed him “a danger to society”. Advocacy, for Mill (Born Robert Rihmeek Williams) to be freed, rose to a fever pitch during the spring. Peers such as Rick Ross, Jay-Z and, even his one-time friend turned rival, Drake made their voices heard, while numerous rallies took place, on his behalf. Finally, On April 24th, 2018, Meek Mill was released from prison. As he attempted to readjust himself to the life that he had left behind, fans were left wondering if his musical career would suffer, in the wake of his arrest. As though he were "testing the waters", he released a 4 track Extended Play named "Legends Of The Summer”. It was forgettable. Nothing really grabbed my attention, but it made me more interested to know how his next album would sound. That EP release, however forgettable, jumpstarted the Meek Mill comeback tour. He went on to donate 6,000 backpacks, filled with supplies for the students of James G. Blaine Elementary school, appeared at day 1 of the “Made In America” music festival, officially ended his feud with Drake, and announced his fourth studio album, “Championships". I would be remiss if I didn’t add that he wrote a criminal justice reform Op-Ed, for the New York Times, in that span (Which can be read here https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/26/opinion/meek-mill-criminal-justice-reform.html)
However, as impressive as Robert Williams has been, we are still fans of the music and Championships surpassed my expectations of what this album was going to be. The use of samples is abundant but deftly executed. In recent years, Meek’s intros have come to be fitting kickoffs to his albums and this one didn’t disappoint. Sampling “In The Air Tonight” by Phil Collins, the rapper weaves through the tale of his recent issues with the law, while contrasting those lines with more conscious rhetoric, something that the old Meek would not have done. He comes right back with "Trauma" (With a superb sample from Mobb Deep's "Get Away" and Taking Me Higher by Barclay James Harvest), detailing his mindset, amidst the harrowing circumstances of his incarceration. I was happy to hear Meek's energy back. Among my reason to be disappointed with the "Legends" EP, the biggest factor, was that he seemed disinterested in the records that he created. There is a noticeable difference here, and by the time you get to “Uptown Vibes”, you’ll be fully invested in the fact that you’re listening to something great. Something that will definitely stand the test of time. While we’re on the subject of the “Championships” album, let’s get something out of the way: although Jay-Z may very well have had one of the verses of the year on “What’s Free”, to only speak about how great that verse was, and to ignore the work that Meek and his team have put into the creation of this album, by omitting how great all the writing was, would be a travesty. There’s a bit of everything on this LP, and Drake also makes his much anticipated appearance on “Going Bad”. In a day and age where an increasing amount of people purport to make stances, based on genuine interest, I believe that Meek really wants to see change regarding the criminal justice system, and he seems to be taking the right steps to make it happen while being able to satisfy his fans with an ironic blend of the old Meek Mill, mixed in with the new Meek Mill. "Championships" is exactly that.
Stephan George is a Montreal based writer
Cover photo courtesy of Shutterstock