*original written Oct. 1. 2021*
Meek Mill (Dream Chasers/ Roc Nation).
Short and brief: money brings about its own issues, and if you need a reminder, Meek Mill is here to serve just that.
Expensive Pain, the Philly rapper’s 5th studio album, chronicles the woes of yesterday and the current price tag of his luxurious lifestyle and its associated fame.
Now that my brief and sound opinion is out of the way let’s dive into the nitty-gritty of my thoughts. Just keep scrolling for the real spill:
Let’s note that I woke up to this album, starting it at 6 a.m., Friday!
(A little early for the subject matter, if you ask me), however, I found myself returning to the album two more times, which was extremely telling.
Mainly because I’m not on record as an invested Meek Fan.
In fact, Meek’s music is chiefly streamed via my workout playlists. However, in my experience, he’s always been reliable for an up-tempo track. And as I’ve crawled my way through his deep cuts, I’ve noted that he’s good for a deep feel (a song you’re bound to reminisce to) as well.
So, walking into this album before sunrise, I was expecting a blend of both styles, and he gave just that.
I find this album to be a nice kick-off to Q4.
It could be just me, but 2021 particularly feels oversaturated when it comes to Rap albums. It’s been hard to find one that sticks to the rib?
This album — clocking in at under one hour — is easy to digest.
(After Donda, I’m grateful for concision).
With a clear theme and star-studded lineup of guest features — including Lil Baby, Lil Durk, Vory, Kehlani, Moneybagg Yo, Lil Uzi Vert, Young Thug, A$AP Ferg, Brent Faiyaz, and British rapper Giggs— I’d rate the album’s replay value an 7 (on a scale from 1-10).
The replay value is far greater than I assumed. I actually went back for two more spins (while penning this review, now totaling five complete run-throughs)!
Although I like the album, I’m curious to see how it’ll compete with what’s still to be released this year — because rumblings are that Kendrick could easily drop this quarter, which changes the scenery for TOP ALBUMS OF 2021— as well as age in general.
While only time can offer that answer, I will say I deeply appreciate that the album has a clear theme.
The more you revisit the project, the more you’ll find different snapshots of vulnerability laced throughout the tracklist.
The way Meek dances between vulnerability and ego on this album is a personification of the genre’s magic.
It’s the rich dichotomy of rap that makes the genre the anomaly that it is. It’s the only genre where flamboyant flex and struggle can coexist. Rap in its pure essence is the perfect embodiment of duality.
The 18-song album, Expensive Pain lives to its title by giving a solid representation of that dualism.
Marking Meek’s first full-length album since Championships —released in 2018 — I was curious to see how this album would follow up.
Championship in its own right was full of game and much-needed commentary from the appraised rapper regarding weighty topics such as criminal justice reform and mental health following his release from prison.
Expensive Pain certainly lands as a notable return.
As for the album’s production, I’d give it a 7.
There were no flops. However, sonically, I expected exactly this style from a Meek project (ultimately blocking a higher rating. I like a little razzle-dazzle when it comes to beats.).
[“Halo” was extremely sonically pleasing. Meek’s clear vocals riding atop the drum cadence while he addresses deep grievances felt supreme. Not to mention we’re greeted by the subtle croons of Faiyaz. The beginning of this track felt like the most player welcome into solace.
“Me (FWM)” ‘s production was E V E R Y T H I N G, I needed and more. But, again, Meek is certified for an upbeat ‘smash .’ He gave just that with this track].
Below you’ll find my Top 5. Of course, this list is subjected to change as I have more time to live with the album.
- Halo (Ft. Brent Faiyaz)
- Blue Notes 2 (Ft. Lil Uzi Vert)
- Tweaking (Ft. Vory)
- Me (FWM) [Ft. A$AP Ferg]
- Expensive Pain
Honorable mentions * Cold Hearted III and Hot (Ft. Moneybagg Yo), On My Soul*
Here’s my cheat sheet based on vibes!
‘ALEXA TURN UP THE VOLUME’: This list is strictly up-tempo bangers.
- – “Intro (Hate on Me)”
- – “Outside (100 MPH)”
- – “Me (FWM)” [Feat. A$AP Ferg]
- – “Flamerz Flow” (Bonus Track)
- – “Hot” [Feat. Moneybagg Yo]
‘SUM’N CHILL TO DRIVE TO’: What you’d more than likely have on during a chill commute.
– “Ride For You” (Feat. Kehlani): I’m a LANI STAN, and she’s known to kill ALL features, but this was kind of disappointing. I was left desiring more from her vocally, Lani where’s the verse?
– “Sharing Locations” (Feat. Lil Baby & Lil Durk): This track is obviously certified as it has both LIL BABY AND LIL DURK as features. These two rappers have been putting up crazy points on the scoreboard for some time now. However, as a more recent pair with the release of their joint project The Voice of the Heroes —released June 2021— this duo is sure to give you a look.
– Northside Southside (Feat. Giggs)
‘PHONE IS ON DND: I’M BUSY REMINISCIN’: The title says it all!
– “Expensive Pain”: Lives up to the weight of a title track. I LIVE for tracks like this when a rapper hops on and just gives us the raw and uncut. Meek touches on various topics in this song alone, which almost left me wondering if he needed a space to just release.
You ever had a phone convo with a loved one, and the topics just bounced around, yet it all seamlessly flowed? That’s how the song feels to me! An entry to his stream of consciousness.
This song hosts one of my favorite flexes of the project:
“Ask bout me in Starlets. I used to ball in here. S***, I’ve been throwin’ paper since Bernice was going hard in here, no Kizzy,”
-Meek Mill, “Expensive Pain,” Expensive Pain
I stan me a good reference, and I love me a fly mama. It’s WELL PLAYED FOR A IFYKYK FLEX.
– “Tweaking” (Feat. Vory): Listen, if you haven’t paid Vory any mind, do yourself a favor and tap in. You can easily find him laced throughout Donda, and his solo work is worth your time. Signed to Dream Chasers, Vory and Meek is a sonically pleasing pair. “Think It’s a Game” from Meek’s QUARANTINE PACK lives in my brain rent-free, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
– “Love Money”: He starts the song by saying, “I can only tell you the truth” you know what type of time he’s on!!
– “Blue Notes 2” (Feat. Lil Uzi Vert): It is a sequel, AND has a UZI feature. YEAH, that’s enough said.
– “Angels (RIP Lil Snupe)”: This song hurts, I won’t lie. As an empath, I felt this track was necessary for the project. If you witnessed Lil Snupe’s brilliance, you know how vital any mention of his name is.
– “Cold-Hearted III“
– “We Slide “(Feat. Young Thug)
– “On My Soul“
When I imagine who will claim the throne of Rap Album of The Year — which, if you ask me, is not even a topic of discussion until Kendrick drops — I fear there’s going to be an innumerable of honorable mentions.
A plethora of good albums dropped this year, but AGAIN, solid projects are bound to slip through the cracks of memorability with higher consumption rates.
Personally speaking, I don’t think Expensive Pain will be an album I’ll forget as I contemplate this year’s rap assortment.
I was anticipating Meek dropping in the fourth quarter, and this album didn’t disappoint. There’s just enough diversity to make it palatable for the non-Meek fans. However, I question if it leaves the Dream Chasers enthusiasts wanting more?
Drop a comment below, and let me in your thoughts.
I’m part curious and also just nosey 🙂