Posts Tagged ‘Meek Mill’

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There have never been more divergent definitions for what makes a rapper good at rapping than there have been in 2012. ¬† HB’s formula is made up primarily of technique (originality as well as execution), writing (complexity as well as relatability), and the degree to which a rapper can draw you into his or her own world. ¬†None of this is a science, but there’s no doubt that the work of these 10 individuals stood out in 2012 (in no definite order). ¬†Happy New Year.

Roc Marciano “76”

Roc Marciano

Roc Marcy’s ascension from the trenches to the parapets was pretty meteoric. ¬†In hindsight, the ease with which he executed this transition over just a two year period has to have a lot to do with the decade plus he had in the game before ¬† he really blessed the world at large with a proper solo debut. ¬†Training alongside the likes of Busta Rhymes & Flipmode, developing his craft with the U.N. & Pete Rock, and polishing his solo skills for a few years before releasing¬†Marcberg¬†had a huge impact on his end game. ¬†Roc’s and partner Ka’s journeys are the type that makes one chuckle at the plight of young rappers who have been at it for 12-18 months and complain that they are being slept on. ¬†Come back and say that in a decade or two. ¬†Regardless of the journey, Roc’s craft is just on a different level than all of his contemporaries at this stage. ¬†He unloads vivid imagery and slick talk at a pace that even makes Ka seems a bit out of place alongside him at times. ¬†In some ways it’s easier to compare Roc at this point in his career to Iceberg Slim or Donald Goines than it is to compare him to Meek Mill, Future, or Chief Keef. ¬†It ain’t checkers it’s chess.

Emeralds,” “76,” “My Persona,” “We Ill

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The¬†distinction¬†between albums, LPs, EPs, and mixtapes was at it’s cloudiest point to date in 2012, and there is relatively no chance that any of those distinctions¬†crystallize¬†into something meaningful ever again. ¬†The reality is that these days most rappers put together “projects,” and those projects either get released for free or they get released for a fee. ¬†Among the projects that get released for free are those where a rapper raps over other people’s instrumentals or samples he or she has no intention of trying to clear. ¬†There are also projects labeled as mixtapes or given away for free, that have entirely original production that get released for free and some of those projects ended up on Hardwood Blacktop’s Best 15 Albums of 2012 list. ¬†To be honest, I’m not overly concerned with those¬†distinctions¬†anymore other than the fact that those of us who like to write about rap like to have a way to differentiate between certain types of releases for the purpose of end of the year lists and things like that. ¬†So here are my picks for best mixtapes of 2012, by my own current loosely defined understanding of that term, which does not necessarily take into account whether a rapper deemed something a mixtape or not (but it might). ¬†In general these projects are not of nearly as high quality as the top albums of 2012, otherwise they would’ve made that list, as you can see from that list there are a couple of “albums” that made the cut that most would classify as mixtapes (Sunday School, Paraphernalia,¬†God of Black¬†EP,¬†MMM Season). ¬†If you’re keeping score at home, those projects¬†would have been at the top of this list.

Meek Mill featuring Big Sean – “Burn”

1. Meek Mill –¬†Dreamchasers 2 –¬†Download

Sometimes a rapper’s (Jadakiss, Fabolous, and Joe Budden just to name a few) game just translates a little bit better to the mixtape circuit than it does to album making. ¬†Whether that has to do with them being better situated to making “street singles” than it does to them making tracks for the club or radio, or whether it has to do with the lack of record label oversight in the mixtape process, or whether the DJs they work with in the mixtape process are actually better A&R’s than their record label A&R’s, the end result is a consistently better free product vs. fee product. It’s too early to say that Meek Mill will always fall into that category as his major label debut¬†Dreams & Nightmares¬†certainly showed promise and contained some great individual songs (“Dreams & Nightmares (Intro)” and “Traumatized”). ¬†There is no doubt though that in 2012, Meek dropped another mixtape (he’s done this a few times before) that was better than a vast majority of the albums that came out in the same year. ¬†Perhaps the most interesting part of Meek as a mixtape artist is that he’s not just someone who drops a flurry of battle-ready sixteens over a bunch of other people’s instrumentals. In fact, some of his best radio singles have been the result of his mixtape work over the last couple of years, hits like last year’s “House Party,” “Tupac Back” and “I’m A Boss”¬†and this year’s “Burn,” “Amen,” and “Flexing” all came from his mixtapes or from the MMG compilations. ¬†By contrast ¬†only ¬†from the first MMG compilation (a mixtape-like project) has really garnered the same buzz. ¬†And while his label has pushed the hell out of “Young and Gettin’ It,” there’s just no way that’s a better direction for Meek than any of the¬†aforementioned¬†tracks. ¬†Dreamchasers 2 was Meek’s most complete offering to date, bringing tracks suitable to almost every type of rap listener and packing plenty of that V-12 energy we’ve come to expect from Philly’s brightest star.¬†While it does drag on a bit as songs begin to run together a little bit after the first nine or ten tracks on the mixtape, there may not have been a better example of hungry street-oriented rapping in 2012.

Choice Cuts: “Burn,” “Amen,” “Ready Or Not,” “A1 Everything

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