Meek Mill’s imprisonment was a significant moment not only for him, but for rap music and rap culture. Receiving support from greats like Jay-Z while also becoming the spark for a dialogue regarding prison and justice reform, Meek Mill was thrust into the spotlight in a fashion unusual to him. Though he was well known within the rap sphere, Meek Mill was surely unprepared for the amount of support and attention his stint in jail had received him. As an outside observer, I was interested to see how this attention and, more importantly, this imprisonment would reflect themselves in his music.
With Legends of the Summer, a short four track EP, I find my curiosities unsatisfied. With a span shorter than twenty minutes, the Philadelphia rapper is (hopefully) wetting our appetites for something more substantial coming over the horizon. In the brevity of this project, however, it’s difficult to discern whether Meek has been artistically affected in any significant way, especially since the mood jumps around a bit. This inconsistency isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as the brevity of this EP makes it feel as if it’s not intended to be thematic as much as it’s intended to be a few songs to keep people’s attention.
The first track, “Millidelphia,” is definitely an attention grabber. Floating above heavy bass and accompanied by call-and-response ad libs, this intro is Meek at his most energetic and bombastic. It feels celebratory, the anthem of a man embracing newly returned freedom, full of braggadocio and excitement. It also seems to be reminiscent of the sound he was employing on his Dreamchasers mixtapes. However, the momentum of this EP lessens with “Dangerous.” There is nothing about this song that works. The melody is bad, the beat is bad, the lyrics are bad, the features are bad; the song is bad. There’s no need to go into complex terms for this simple truth.
The rest of the EP following this low point is rather consistent. “1am” is the slickest Meek Mill has ever sounded. His flow rides the beat very well, but, more importantly, Jahlil Beats’ production is what carries the song. The drums have such a great movement and groove to them which both compliment Meek’s rhythm and compensate for the vapidness of the lyrics. However, the track which is the most interesting across the boards is “Stay Woke.” Conscious Meek Mill is in many ways a mixed bag. On one hand, there’s a kind of ethos bestowed upon him due to his experiences with the law as a black man, but on the other, it doesn’t feel as if Meek is saying anything new on this song. Be that as sit may, the song has slowly begun to grow on me because of that personal edge to it. It may not be refreshing, but it’s refreshing for Meek Mill and interesting to watch him attempt it.
Legends of the Summer is hardly watertight, but it feels like a decent enough crop of Meek Mill songs. It only just begins to answer a few of the many questions I have for Meek Mill and his future as an artist, and it is simultaneously a hint that things have changed and that things are the same. Regardless, the next project Meek Mill releases does seem to have some potential to it in light of this, though this EP isn’t exactly a highlight of the year.