As the Maybach Music Group machine continues to roll, Meek Mill is steadily preparing to be a vital cog. Dreamchasers 2, a follow-up to his 2011 Gangsta Grillz Dreamchasers mixtape, aims to prepare fans for the Philadelphia native’s studio debut, Dream & Nightmares.

On “Ready Or Not,” producer All Star underlays the familiar Fugees sample with new percussion and bass. Rather than sound contrived, the new take is actually brimming with a whole new energy, which manifests itself in Meek’s vigorous flow. “Amen” is a feel-good cut featuring Drake and Jeremih; it dips a bit into the cheese a bit with the organs and choirs, but it’s pretty catchy. “A1 Everything” interestingly pairs Meek with Kendrick Lamar, as the MMG and Aftermath emcees trade off rapid-fire flow. On the other hand, “Racked Up Shawty” has Meek, Fabolous, and French Montana vying for the mediocrity crown. “Big Dreams” provides a rare moment of self-reflection, as Meek Mill laments the changing times: “If you ain’t got a dream, you ain’t got nothin’ / A lot of niggas changed on me when I got money / Say it come with the game, and this what I wanted / So I’ma hustle like the first time I got fronted / For the love of the green, and the love of the team / Put together a circle that couldn’t come in between / Went from lint in my pockets to using money machines / I got my city back poppin’, they don’t want me to leave /  No they don’t want me to leave.” It’s not something you haven’t heard countless times already, but it does give Dreamchasers 2 some depth, and illustrates what the project is actually supposed to represent.

Though it awkwardly interpolates the chorus from the Black Eyed Peas’ “Don’t Phunk With My Heart,” “Take U Home” is one of the more impressive outings on Dreamchasers 2, as Big Sean and fellow MMG-er Wale show and prove on the fast-paced track. “The Ride” is as soulful as anything Meek has ever done, and “Real” provides a touch of funk that is otherwise nowhere to be found. Of course, these highlights are separated by formulaic “anthems” like “Str8 Like That” and “House Party Remix,” which contribute to making Dreamchasers 2 a consistently mixed bag throughout.

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Meek can capably flow, but he’s not nearly the consistent presence on the mic as, say, a Young Jeezy or a Rick Ross—partly because he just flat-out refuses to switch up the delivery. Ideally, projects are to be viewed in the abstract; but sometimes Dreamchasers 2 is so derivative that there is little room for that. When Meek decides to not be run-of-the-Mill, he sounds like he could be MMG’s MVP. But when he elects to do songs like “Flexing” and “Lean Wit It,” which sound like it could be any of a thousand variants of the same song Ace Hood keeps making, one has to wonder whether Meek is even interested in achieving greatness. Ultimately, a fairly strong guest list and a good ear for beats is enough to carry this project, while Meek Mill ponders that question.

DX Consensus: “EP-worthy”

Listen to Dreamchasers 2 by Meek Mill