Expensive Pain

Expensive Pain

“I used to hear speculation: I'm not really keeping up in music,” Meek Mill told Zane Lowe ahead of the release of his fifth album. “That's why I'm trying to bring my best music and really showcase my talent for the people that really give me my credit. Because I've been in this game for 10 years, man. I felt like this is the year that I really want mine because I sit in the studio by myself with a producer and try to remain a top artist.” Expensive Pain is where Meek Mill's effort pays off. Long heralded as one of the most preternaturally talented MCs in rap, Meek is bars-up consistently across Expensive Pain, delivering the kind of endless couplets that people who rewatch Funkmaster Flex freestyles live for. But he’s also expanded his repertoire to include the kind of Auto-Tuned harmonizing (see “On My Soul,” “Love Train,” and “Love Money”) that dominates contemporary hip-hop playlists. Getting there, he admits, was no small task. “Through quarantine, I sat back—even through a big writer's block—just trying to learn melody for months and months until I got confident enough,” he says. “And when I got back into the studio, my confidence just took me in a way where I felt like I could do anything in the booth.” What he does across Expensive Pain is tell us what life is like for Meek Mill in 2021. “How would you feel/When you so lit that you can’t tell if the love real,” he asks on Lil Uzi Vert collaboration “Blue Notes 2.” In addition to Vert, he’s called on Lil Baby and Lil Durk, A$AP Ferg, Moneybagg Yo, Kehlani, Brent Faiyaz, and, maybe most notably, London MC Giggs, to help him talk about how being rich and famous isn’t always all it’s cracked up to be. But while “mo money, mo problems” is a concept at least as old as the Notorious B.I.G. song, Meek also needs us to know that he’s never far from what made him. “I always try to stay close to my hood,” he says. “Not hang in the hood, because I can't, but just to get the feeling and the understanding of never forgetting where I come from and what the people go through, so when I deliver my music, it's still got real feel to it that people can actually feel inside instead of just dance to.”

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