REVIEW: Meek Mill’s ‘Championships’ reigns as musical introduction to artist

Promotional artwork for Meek Mill’s ‘Championships’ courtesy of MMG / Atlantic

Happy belated birthday to one of the more versatile, varying rap artists in modern day hip-hop, Meek Mill, born  May 6, 1987. A product of the unforgettable era of rap music, Meek Mill serves as a fresh listen to those who prefer intricate wordplay in rap. Over the course of his career, Meek Mill has demonstrated a unique, unmatched style of rap, combining clever lyrics, impressive beat selection, and surprise features in his works. No other album of his showcases all of these traits more than his highest achieving album on the charts, Championships.

Meek Mill starts the album off with a solo track titled “Intro.” The rap is set over a clever sample of Phil Collins’ “In The Air Tonight,” a slow burner of a song, allowing Meek Mill to truly flash his creativity any way he wants. “Intro” allows us to see inside Meek Mill’s life in the hood of Philadelphia with lines like “Rockin’ Dior, I still remember me poor, / I’m tryna get more.” Growing up through the tough life of such an environment, Meek Mill celebrates his successes, being able to make it out of his hood. Overall, “Intro” serves as a great opening to the album but also as a perfect overall demonstration of Meek Mill as an artist.


Immediately following such a celebratory, positive rap, Meek Mill introduces the next one, a sad, emotional number titled “Trauma.” Once more, Meek Mill flexes his musical literacy by sampling another older, influential song, this time being “Taking Me Higher” by Barclay James Harvest. Meek Mill laments over the hardships, inequalities, and unfairness in the world when it comes to life as a young, African-American, particularly in areas such as the slums of Philadelphia, where life can be, well, traumatizing. In expert fashion, Meek Mill is able to hide depressing lyrics over a seemingly upbeat sample, weaving delicate lines such as “When the drugs got a hold of your mama, / and the judge got a hold on your father, / go to school, bullet holes in the locker,” seamlessly into his work, hiding the sad truth of life in the ghetto in plain sight. Using “Trauma” as the second song on the album really provides depth to it as a whole, while emphasizing the idea of triumph despite hardship.


Later on in the album, Meek Mill features Drake on the most popular song in his discography, “Going Bad.” The track opens with a bouncing, back-and-forth piano loop that continues throughout the entire song. Though this is not the first time the two have hopped on a beat together, “Going Bad” is definitely one of their more polished pieces as a duo. “Going Bad” serves as a celebration of his career, once more making references to what he can do now that he is famous. At one point, Meek Mill says “When I’m in my trap, I move like Rambo, / Ain’t a neighborhood in Philly that I can’t go,” bragging about the privileges he now has back in his hometown. Both artists featured on the track flash their own unique styles of rap that made them individually famous. The special thing about “Going Bad” is how both Meek Mill and Drake are able to mesh their completely different cadences and flow into one another, creating a true hit.


Further down still, Meek Mill places another solo called “Oodles O’ Noodles Babies,” using yet another clever sample. This time, he loops a funk ballad titled “Love Changes” by Mother’s Finest. Meek Mill combines the beat selection style of “Intro” with the sad, depressing lyrical messages of “Trauma” to paint a grim picture of societal issues. For example, lines like “Poor gettin’ poorer and the rich gettin’ greedier, / Lot of daddies goin’ back and forth out of jail, lot of sons growin’ up repeating it. / This the belly of the beast, you won’t make it out,” call out just how tough life can be on less-fortunate people living in the ghetto of Philadelphia. Meek Mill drops a lot of hard truths in “Oodles O’ Noodles Babies” in a nostalgic way, bringing up normal, everyday experiences like going to school or playing on a SEGA. The older song sampled adds another element to the nostalgic, yet, melancholy tone he takes on.


Overall, Meek Mill’s album Championships easily achieves the intended goal. This is an album of celebration of many things like making it out of the hood, or surviving the rough streets of Philadelphia and living to tell the tale. Championships is a boast of Meek Mill’s wins in life, while being mindful of the others he left behind who were not so lucky. Each song on the album sticks to the theme of winning against the odds.

Not only is the album successful in its message, but it also accomplishes establishing Meek Mill as one of the more versatile rappers in the game. With many different styles featured on Championships, Meek Mill is able to expertly thrive in every song on the album.

Payton McCullum is a staff writer for Oswego East High School’s online news magazine the Howl

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