Expensive Pain - Meek Mill
Meek Mill is a very interesting artist to me. I think he can be great on rare occasions but more often than not is bad. His tracks that he's actually rapping on can be hit or miss, and I think his R&B type tracks are always misses. Meek Mill is also loud and constantly yelling into the mic, so you could assume I wasn't looking the most forward to this album. Dreams and Nightmares is the only album I've heard from Meek and it's good in all honesty, but everything else I have heard I'm not particularly a fan of. I wasn't necessarily dreading listening to Expensive Pain but it was an interesting experience for sure.
In classic Meek Mill style the intro track, Intro (Hate On Me) has a grand and consequential sound. When he flows on this track he sounds unstoppable, proving yet again that intro tracks are a strong point for Meek. The beat switch at the end of the track is solid but nowhere near as good or energetic as the first half. Meek Mill keeps up the intense flow on Outside (100MPH) but he eventually fizzles out after the minute and thirty second mark. The instrumental is lacking any kind of personality and just makes Meek's dull performance even more noticeable. The instrumental for On My Soul is more potent and jazzy which is a good step up from the last track. However Meek Mill cannot sing to save his life, and the auto tune only makes it more grating.
The second single to drop before the release of Expensive Pain, Sharing Locations with Lil Baby and Lil Durk, is one of two major highlights on the LP. The instrumental is extremely high stakes and haunting; Durk, Baby and Meek trading bars is great and Durks chorus is strong and memorable. This track is amazing and fun, with the only real issues being Lil Baby's vocal mix sounding a bit off. The instrumental on Expensive Pain is paced slower and Meek flow is laid back but he still has the same loud delivery. His bars were pretty average and by the time the beat finally dropped I was ready for the next track to start. Ride For You is another R&Bish type song with an amazing chorus from Kehlani. The instrumental is your standard Trap&B, Meek delivers some alright bars and isn't too bad on it, but the only thing worth coming back for is Kehlani.
Me (FWM)'s production is similar to that of Trap Lord, which is a perfect fit for A$AP Ferg's feature, which he kills as expected. The beat is underproduced but in a way that lets Ferg shine, and I wish I could say the same about Meek. He's pretty average and the songs are boring until Ferg steps it up with some hilarious bars and great energy. Hot is a song that could define the term mid. It has an average trap beat, Meek's flow is solid and he brings good energy but his lyrics are standard. Moneybagg Yo doesn't contribute much to the song in terms of anything other than the song's length. The instrumental on Love Train is yet again a predictable Trap&B type beat. Meek's singing is once again not pleasant to listen to and his rapping is good, it's just not enough to make the song worth listening to.
Northside Southside is a nice change in sound with some ominous and grimey production. Meek delivers one of his best verses on the whole album and brings the perfect dangerous energy for a track like this. Giggs also gives a great verse, his flow is slower than Meek's but he's just as captivating. Similar to the other R&B tracks, We Slide is very bland and predictable. Meek's singing is better than the other tracks but still not great and Young Thug actually gives a great performance, but the track as a whole is very underwhelming. Tweaking is a rare stroke of excellence from Meek Mill. After hearing this I hope he raps over boom bap instrumentals more often, because he definitely shines there. Meek also leveled up his pen game for such a great instrumental and Vory matched Meek skill wise on his verse as well.
Like half of the songs on Expensive Pain, Love Money is just your typical wannabe R&B hit from Meek Mill. There is nothing much to say about it, it's just a bad track. Blue Notes 2 is a hard song. The instrumental is solid with a nice sample and Meek does his thing flow and energy wise. Lil Uzi Vert delivers a good performance as well that makes the track even better. Meek gives us one of his better lyrical efforts on Angels (RIP Lil Snupe) with some powerful bars. Unfortunately though, everything else is pretty mediocre, boring and predictable. Whoever told Meek Mill to tap into his R&B sound should be fired.
Meek Mill's screaming delivery is a large disadvantage on the track Cold Hearted III. The beat is again boring and sounds lazily produced which makes Meek Mill the only thing really standing out on this track, and it's not in the best way either. Halo has a nice sample but it doesn't really add much to an already repetitive sounding instrumental. Brent Faiyaz delivers an impressive chorus with some soulful and passionate singing while Meek Mill steps up his rapping game again. Flamerz Flow, even though it's listed as a bonus track, is surprisingly the worst track on the album. The beat is bad, but Meek is even worse, he's horribly offbeat for the duration of the song and his screaming delivery sounds horrendously bad. I don't know why he included this on the album.
To be honest I wasn't expecting much from a Meek Mill album, but he did really well on some fronts but on others even worse. For the most part the production is bland and all the instrumentals blend together, especially the R&B based tracks. Meeks dabbling in the R&B lane is a horrible idea, this man cannot sing ever. I very much respect him trying new things but he should re listen to his album. A lot of the features are actually really good like Vory, A$AP Ferg and Brent Faiyaz and it was nice to hear some different voices. However there are also some really strong moments like Intro, Tweaking and Sharing Locations where Meek showcases that he can rap really well and write great verses sometimes, he just chooses not to. One of Expensive Pain's biggest flaws is the lack of cohesion throughout. There is no coherent theme or sound and the way the songs are sequenced it sounds more like a playlist or studio album. It's not a great album by any means but it definitely could've been worse.