During the 2018 Rolling Loud festival, Meek Mill arrived as an unannounced special guest. Only two weeks separated Meek’s liberation from a Chester, Pennsylvania state prison and his surprise performance in Miami, a radical scenery shift for the Philly rapper. His appearance earned him an ovation worthy of a man who has transitioned from rap hit-maker to people’s champion.
Post-prison Meek has only released the Miguel-assisted “Stay Woke.” The single is a strong first offering, a glimpse into the mind of a man in the aftermath of a five-month prison stint for a bogus parole violation. Of course, new music was expected—to waste such positive press without releasing an album would be a terrible miscalculation.
Surprisingly, Meek didn’t reemerge with a full-length album, but rather a short, four-track EP titled Legends of the Summer. In a year filled with big releases by the biggest names in hip-hop, Meek still stands out. It’s a good position to be in, but it doesn’t leave room for lackluster throwaways and forgettable records. Meek’s newfound mass appeal is a chance only a handful of artists receive later in their career; the second chance of a lifetime.
In usual 1-Listen fashion, the rules are the same: no skipping, no fast-forwarding, no rewinding, and no stopping. Each song will receive my gut reaction from start to finish.
The summer has been hot, but the question is, can Meek make it even hotter?
1. "Millidelphia" ft. Swizz Beatz
The buildup has me excited. Swizz has one of the most grating voices in all of hip-hop. I’ll never knock his production, he’s a master of his craft, but I wish there was a way to silence him on his own records. Meek Time! The drums didn’t launch me into a different dimension, but they are hard enough to send Team Rock blasting off. I’m feeling incredibly energized. Meek intros can be compiled into the perfect gym playlist. YEP! This is a BANGER. Summer is officially hotter. Despite how I feel about his voice, Swizz has so many summer records. We need to craft a list of producers and all their summer anthems. Or rank the producers with the best track record of having the hottest summer songs. “Millidelphia” is an adrenaline shot—pure energy and tenacity. Meek has officially made his theme song. Every time he walks into a room this song should play. He’s sweating confidence and sneezing boasts. The icon living reference was a nice touch. Without question, this is another classic introduction track. Meek has one of the best intro catalogs. He has yet to let me down. He came in at the end with a rapid-fire closing. Lava.
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2. “Dangerous” ft. Jeremih & PnB Rock
Great way to start things off. Instrumental is hotter than fresh Cajun fish and cheese grits. Yung Berg becoming Hitmaka is the best transformation since Frieza’s final form. PnB Rock and Jeremih together is a winning R&B equation. Their smooth voices only amplify how butter this production sounds. If “Millidelphia” was a firecracker for the streets, “Dangerous” is the background music for Snapchat videos and Instagram captions for the ladies. Hearing Jeremih and PnB pull off this give-and-go is the audio version of that Dwyane Wade to LeBron James' alley-oop against the Milwaukee Bucks. In the past, these records haven’t been Meek’s strong suit, especially during his time with Nicki. In fact, they were very corny. But “Dangerous” works. It has a chance to have a presence on the radio, but it will surely impact on social media. Two songs that scream summer back to back. Not bad, Meek. Not bad.
These are the claps that scream strip clubs. Jahlil Beats' tag just came in! You know a monster was made. Yep, another party-starting anthem. Loving the tempo, loving the swing. Meek has fed every kind of party and event in just three songs. He can make anthems in his sleep. Meek doesn’t have the greatest tricks, but when he pulls them off they tend to land. “1am” reminds me of Jermaine Dupri, and how he built his entire brand around party music for the clubs. Back when there was a Freaknik, JD was the man. Third verse has sprinkles of Young M.A. Hopefully, Meek taps her for the remix. She would place this beat in the casket. Solid song. My least favorite so far. Still, not a bad record.
4. "Stay Woke" ft. Miguel
Meek crafted an EP of singles but decided to lead with “Stay Woke.” Interesting choice. I love the “Momma taught you how to fight fight, before she taught you how to write write, and daddy locked down in a cell, can’t kiss you night night” imagery. This is what Meek does well; he can deliver bars that put you right in the heart of hardships. They're always a little more nuanced than just the general tales from the bottom. Miguel has yet to fail a single hip-hop feature. His voice doesn’t always promise to turn your single into a hit, but every song he's on increases the replay value. The second verse is really good, how Meek is able to look at the new rappers in contrast to his own life and poor decisions. “They did this to me on purpose because I wasn’t moving too perfect.” That’s one thing about being in the spotlight—you have to be perfect. Great third verse. “Stay Woke” is an example of how good Meek is at rapping. He needs that Hov verse before he retires.
Legends of the Summer (first listen) closing thoughts:
Meek knew that his best bet for competing for our attention this summer would be to deliver anthems. He has a great understanding of how the masses absorb his music; one of the best rappers for both cars and clubs, the voice of turning up and living your best life. The four tracks found on Legends of the Summer further solidify how Meek Mill is the one-man soundtrack to a great night at the club, house party, or any event where there are beautiful people and alcohol.
This is an EP that will walk you through four variations of Meek Mill—the architect of explosive intros that give you the rush of being shot from a cannon; the smooth talker from the bottom who would be featured on the remix to Destiny's Child’s “Soldier” if the song had a 2018 version; the house party soundtrack curator who always provides a song with the purpose of burning down homes and venues; and the aware black man who has felt the misfortune of a broken legal system.
Legends of the Summer isn’t a far cry from what Meek has done in the past, but the sharpness and clarity of his lyricism on display is refreshing. He’s officially back, and Legends of the Summer is his lively housewarming. Meek hasn’t suddenly become a new artist, but this EP is a solid showcase of a rapper who is focused and reinvigorated.
By Yoh, aka Legends of the Google Doc aka @Yoh31.