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Meek Mill tells the luxuries and hardships of fame on 'Expensive Pain'

Three years after his last studio album, Mill gives his fans a new project that drives off pure adrenaline

<p>The Philadelphia-native released his fifth studio album, “Expensive Pain,” on Friday.</p>

The Philadelphia-native released his fifth studio album, “Expensive Pain,” on Friday.

After leaving Pennsylvania’s Graterford Correctional Facility in a helicopter in 2018, Meek Mill has brought a sense of maturity to his career. Mill’s previous album, “Championships,” broke barriers as he spoke perfectly about the unjust prison system and overcoming adversity. On his most recent release, Mill decided to provide insight into his current lifestyle. 

The Philadelphia-native released his fifth studio album, “Expensive Pain” Oct. 1. This release signaled Mill’s return to his roots with his signature upbeat brash rapping style — similar to street freestyles. The simple one-chord progression beats throughout the album prove to be enough background for his boasting about cars, women and designer clothing. 

The beginning of the project is a shot of adrenaline with “Intro (Hate On Me)” and “Outside (100 MPH).” Although both songs sound extremely similar, they are ideal examples of Mill’s motivational outreach in his music. Mill speaks of lavish lifestyles everyone wishes to have on “Outside (100 MPH),” with cliche and inspirational lyrics like “Just me and my dawgs / With a brand new Porsche, a Turbo Sport with a horse, but it / look like a frog.” If you need new workout music, you should give these songs a listen.

Throughout “Expensive Pain,” Mill smoothly inserts serious topics such as losing friends on the road to fame and how no amount of money can bring them back while still bragging about flying on private jets and splurging money in foreign countries. More specifically, the song “Angels (RIP Lil Snupe)” is dedicated to Lil Snupe, a protege and signed artist of Mill’s record label, Dream Chasers, who was murdered in 2013. Mill feels as if he can’t show any emotions to these deaths as “you can't cry 'bout that street shit once you sign up.” 

Besides the common brash rapping style, the album also includes moments of singing by the artist, the most noticeable being “On my Soul” and “Love Train.” Mill’s autotune voice beautifully harmonizes with a variety of instruments such as piano, saxophone and synthetic drums. Another noticeable factor on the album are the features such as Vory, Moneybagg Yo and Brent Faiyaz, which do not disappoint. Although these features do not have the high status of artists seen on his previous album like Jay Z, Drake and Rick Ross, their features still help to diversify the project.

On “Me (FWM),” Mill reunites with New York rapper A$AP Ferg. Over one of the most minimal beats on the album, Ferg delivers an impressive verse with a constant change of flow and addresses the pride both rappers have in their home cities — “Blocka-blocka, turned to shottas if them coppers try to pop us / Then go sit at John and Vinny's, have some pasta with some mobsters / Swervin' through Philly, I'm hangin' with Billies and nobody really can stop us.” The use of just piano keys and hi-hat is an odd beat that only Ferg can make sound good. 

One area that is lacking on this project is the switch of flows. Mill rose to fame because of his aggressive, lengthy verses, but these become very repetitive on this album. The only break from the stale cadences and rhythms is when another artist is introduced on a song. Sadly, the only songs that feature a unique flow were the two pre-album singles — “Sharing Locations,” released Aug. 27 and “Blue Notes 2,” released Sept. 1. Although fans were already familiar with these songs by the time the entire album came out, that in no way dilutes the eloquent back-and-forth verses seen in both impressive songs. 

Unfortunately, this album also fails to deliver many meaningful lyrics. There are lyrics containing some degree of substance on a few songs, such as on “We slide” when Mill raps, “Lost my daddy, kindergarten I got badder / When I was twelve, was living in hell and lighting that gas up.” When not addressing his hometown, Mill reverts back to stereotypical rap themes such as money and sleeping with women. 

Despite these shortfalls, Mill is mainly known for his upbeat, energetic music, and this album strongly excels in that category. The relatively short and heavy bass songs get straight to the point, making them perfect for the moments you need to blast music through your speakers. Even the slow songs maintain a macho tone and provide the sense of inspiration that many fans look to Mill for. 

We live in a time where mainstream artists often gain very loyal and powerful fan bases, which was recently seen with Drake and Kayne West breaking records within hours after the release of their most recent albums. Unfortunately, no songs on Mill’s release have been generally favored enough by fans to create a radio hit, and the album has not reached any height on the Billboard charts. “Expensive Pain” is a great outlet for those who appreciate Mill’s distinct rapping style, but it comes up short in every other aspect. 

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