Jan 2, 2019

by ASadler


It’s 2019 now, but here I am reflecting on 2015 in “Back to Back” (Sorry Meek Mill) articles. The Summer of 2015 was literally hot but the music game was set ablaze when the Philly biker engaged in a battle with the Champagne Papi himself, Drake. Aggressive ghostwriting claims lead to Drake unleashing the slow burning diss track “Charged Up” followed up very quickly by Grammy-nominated diss track that still plays in parties to this day (word to Deontay Wilder), “Back to Back.”

Meek fired back with “Wanna Know” which was met with mixed reviews and did not have the same impact as Drake’s double-barreled approach despite revealing he was pissed on, playing a part of a reference track from ghostwriter Quentin Miller, and sampling The Undertaker’s entrance music. That song had all the pieces to be fire and it just missed the mark. The OVO stanbase had a lot to do with its lack of ether.

Meek lost the battle and the war, but there was a much bigger loss in my eyes. I know I look crazy calling a certified Platinum album a sleeper, but I don’t think anyone would disagree that Dreams Worth More Than Money didn’t get the run it deserved that summer and beyond. That album was supposed to be a victory lap for the 31-year-old, who was at a great point in his musical career, part of one of the best labels and dating the top woman rapper in the game, Nicki Minaj.

It was a well-crafted LP and had the beef never happened, I believe this album would have thrown him into the conversation with Drake, Kendrick Lamar, and J. Cole way sooner. The beef put him in a crossroads, and unfortunately he got forced onto the path where he loses the beef, is the laughing stock of Twitter for months, and had to fight to regain favor with music fans for over a year.

If he won though, this movement surrounding his instant classic Championships from the end of November 2018 would have felt like more of a “duh” moment. And even though his albums prior to DWMTM were also good and well crafted, this one had superstar-catapulting potential written all over it. You can pretend now, but don’t act like there wasn’t a point in time where you doubted if he could return to the elite output he had for multiple years prior to the beef. It’s completely okay. It changed the way this album was consumed, to Milly’s detriment. He good now though.

Let me finally talk about DWMTM. This album was special. 14 songs in length, it features his opponent from that summer Drake, mentor Rick Ross, two appearances from his bae at the time Nicki, Chris Brown, The Weeknd, Future, Tory Lanez, Swizz Beats and Diddy. It’s an easy yet very enjoyable listen. Though feature heavy, Meek’s sound and influence are dominant. His affinity for delivering a mixed bag of cathartic-sounding records, car bangers, hood love songs, and the flex anthems was crystallized best here before Championships came into the picture.

“Lord Knows” is a heavy opener assisted by Tory, and their similar styles of yelling blend perfectly here. Play Picasso created the perfect playground with the beat and Tory and Meek were Olympic gymnasts on these monkey bars. “Classic” sounds like a Swizzy track, though produced by Bangledesh and featuring some vocals from Jeremih. Meek raps his ass off and the track quite literally feels classic. If anyone is ever chronicling his best lyrical performances, I expect this song to be on the list.

“All Eyes On You” is a cheesy love song that totally works and the addition of CB and his lady Nicki gave it that crossover appeal Meek needed. Despite the drama surrounding “R.I.C.O” and QM’s assistance, it’s my call for the best collab between Meek and Drake. It’s not often you find a beat for a collab that sounds like one either artist would likely use for a solo track. Fellow Canadian Abel Tesfaye delivers a spirit-lifting hook on “Pullin Up” and but it’s Meek’s lyrics and delivery that carries this song.

“Check” is one of his best songs of all-time and shall forever be in my queue when I’m looking to get hype. His ability to create catchy, repetitive, high energy street anthems is matched by few. A Meek album wouldn’t have felt right without the boss talk from Ricky Rozay, reminding us who he has always been on “Been That.” It’s the closing track “Cold Hearted” with words from Puff that put the finishing touches on a true masterpiece. The song is nearly 7 minutes long and just when you think he’s done, he comes back for one of the hardest hitting verses of his career.

The album went Platinum, yes, but it took over two years to do so. Numbers don’t tell the whole story, but they do indicate this album’s run to glory was derailed. It was perfectly set up to blow up. He had the recipe so fine-tuned that a majority of the tracks had potential to blow up as singles. “R.I.C.O” did eventually go Platinum a year after its release and peaked at #40 on the Billboard Hot 100. Four other songs entered the Hot 100, and had Meek not gone radio silent after the beef with Drake it’s possible he could have pushed those songs way up the charts with more promotion and visuals.

Beyond the numbers, the album was no longer even a conversation. Any time Meek came up during Summer 2015 and beyond, it was the beef. Talk is what moves albums and contributes to something being considered classic. If the music is good but there’s no discussion then an album’s shelf life is very limited and it’s harder to legitimately acknowledge its greatness. DWMTM had plenty to discuss but his L to Drizzy was a huge cloud blocking his shine.

I think being over three years removed from this album’s release, we are due to revisit it and give the album its flowers the same way The Source did with JAY-Z’s Reasonable Doubt. Especially now that going Platinum has been tainted by streaming. Meek followed his typical formula, but he surely soared beyond the expectations people had for his second studio album. The confusing part of this celebration of Championships is the fact it kind of feels like people didn’t think he had this in him. Had Dreams Worth More Than Money got the attention and acclaim it truly deserved, that may not have been the case come 2018. It would have been less of a pleasant surprise and more of an expectation.

This beef was a turning point for both of their careers. Drake showed how strong his armor and stan-base was, successfully navigating en route to “Hotline Bling” and What A Time To Be Alive. Meek was silent for months and had to scratch and claw his way back into most of our good graces. But what if he doesn’t call Drake out for not Tweeting his album, releases a “R.I.C.O” video, and instead of fielding questions about Drake he can let people into his mind solely about the music?

I know a lot of great albums dropped in 2015, but this one might’ve been looked at as the best if that summer went differently. Meek wouldn’t be who he is now without that battle, though. So, it’s really a matter of what you prefer.