Rolling Stone (p.82) - 3.5 stars out of 5 -- "[H]e mostly keeps things gritty...hardscrabble stories, in a voice big and brassy enough to be heard 20 blocks away."
Illustrator: TaVon Sampson.
Having torn it up on the first two volumes of Maybach Music's Self Made compilations, Philadelphia rapper and former Grand Hustle artist Meek Mill finally busts out on his own on Dreams and Nightmares, an apt title for an album that haphazardly bounces between the two. Check how the hooky swagger anthem "Young & Gettin' It" with Kirko Bangz gives way to the heartbreaking "Traumatized" without a pause, and while Meek's a strong enough, smart enough, and, most of all, determined enough rapper to make these two sides happen, the album doesn't sort these cuts with even a mixtape's sense of care. Any shuffle button could do just as well, but sliced off into little bits, this is the glittery gangster feeling, big boss stuff that Ross and Maybach fans expect, delivered with Meek's love of combining Twista fast with Rick Ross force, making him the MVP of the star-studded "Maybach Curtains" (with Nas, John Legend, and Ross) by sheer force of will and volume. He's cocky enough to kick off "Amen" with "I just wanna thank God, for all the pretty women he let into my life" and then respectful enough to deserve the rich Mary J. Blige backing he gets on "Who Your Around," but his stories of growing up in the concrete jungle lack insight or angle, as turning to a life of crime is just a way to afford "Polo & Shell Tops," because that's the way it goes, and it makes for a damn good hook. As far as graduations from mixtapes to major-label releases go, this one is still satisfying and a step forward, plus slicked up and pimped out in a way that's entirely Maybach. ~ David Jeffries