If the streets of Philadelphia could talk, they might like the titular song on Meek Mill's aptly titled debut album, Dreams and Nightmares. Featuring a gradual transition from hopeful street aphorisms and a dreamy piano to death threats and frantic percussion, the song replaces illusions of brotherly love with a triumphant image of blood-stained aspirations and survival. It's the Rocky theme 2K12, and one of the defining songs in Meek Mill's catalog. But where does it rank among his best tracks?
Where you rank Meek songs could be a matter of how you feel on the day you're putting the list together. Throughout a rap career that stretches back to the time he dropped his debut mixtape, The Real Me, in 2006, Meek Mill's unloaded at least 19 projects featuring songs that define elements of his style. With a knack for poignant bars and dynamic flows that let him spit on different beats seamlessly, Meek's long been able to make songs for the club or the trenches. Many times, it's both at the same time.
His best songs usually vacillate between reflection and relentless confidence. They're carried by a delivery that sounds like exasperation. If you want a more somber but determined Meek Milly, you might put his Dreamchasers 3 song, "Lil Nigga Snupe," near the very top of your list. On the song, he pays tribute to Louisiana rapper Lil Snupe, an artist Meek signed before the 18-year-old was shot and killed in June of 2013. If you want to hear a song about Rolexes and flossy whips, you might put his Big Sean-featured 2012 track "Burn" in your top three. After the top 10, it can be pretty hard to decide what belongs where.
Today, XXL gives it a shot. For Meek's birthday, check out a ranking of the top 40 Meek Mill songs ever.