31. Meek Mill, Dreamchasers (2011)
Meek Mill has released nine solo mixtapes and two as a member of Philly supergroup The Bloodhoundz. Some releases were pivotal at different moments in his career; the Flamerz tapes led to an affiliation with Grand Hustle; Mr. Philadelphia attracted the attention of Rick Ross. But it was his debut tape for MMG that successfully transitioned Meek Mill from one of his city's most ferocious street rappers into a national star.
Unlike its sequel, it was a true midpoint between his Philly origins (Bloodhoundz member Mel Love makes several appearances) and his national aspirations (Rick Ross and Yo Gotti guest as well). It featured some of his best songs with producer and fellow resident of the City of Brotherly Love, Jahlil Beats, including the charting single "I'ma Boss," and the disorienting anxiety of "House Party."
In essence, though, what sets Dreamchasers apart in Meek's catalog was that this was the first time he had released a set of songs that transcended the street corner double-time alarm klaxon raps that had defined his earlier tapes. The visceral urgency remained, but rather than feeling like pure lyrical exercises, the songs began to develop in nuance and diversity, from the gripping storytelling of "Tony Story" to the heartfelt reminiscence of "Middle of the Summer." Meek Mill had evolved into a fully-fledged artist. â€”David Drake