On February 4th of 2018, as the Philadelphia Eagles warmed up on the field in Minnesota for the Super Bowl, they rallied around what became their team’s anthem, the intro to Meek Mill’s seminal album Dreams and Nightmares. In the ten years since it’s release, Meek, the song, and album have all taken on much deeper meanings in the culture. The song itself has become a Philly classic along the lines of “Summertime” by the Fresh Prince and “What We Do” by Freeway as songs that everyone in the city knows by heart. If you put “Dreams and Nightmares” on at any bar in the city, folks will sing the lyrics at the top of their lungs.
The album, now 10 years old, definitely feels like a reflection of a young man dealing with newfound fame and fortune that is still just removed from a life of extreme hardships. Songs like “Amen” featuring Drake and “Maybach Curtains” with Nas and John Legend are celebrations of his new success, while songs like “Tony Story Pt. 2” are more stories reported from what Meek had recently been able to leave behind. While there are a lot of Dreams and Nightmares still in Meek’s music, the evolution to him now is evident, the core of his being is visible on this record still.
Meek Mill the man has been on an almost separate journey in the 10 years since his debut release. That includes high-profile relationships and beefs, but most importantly, his battles with the criminal Justice system. Meek Mill becoming one of the faces of criminal Justice reform was not something I think he or anyone would have seen in 2012, but the importance of it is no less impactful.
Kids like my son who were 11 got to watch as Meek grew into an extremely impactful person who with huge support from the likes of Jay-Z, former Sixers minority owner Michael Rubin, and even Robert Kraft. He’s been able to have a major positive impact by bringing much needed attention to how an act of a teenager that gets into the system can haunt them forever. He’s helping to change that, and for many, their long nightmares may become dreams of hope.
Meek Mill headlines a tenth anniversary celebration of Dreams and Nightmares at the Wells Fargo Center on Saturday, November 26th. Tickets and more information on the show can be found here.