Particularly coming from Meek Mill, Wins & Losses is a letdown. The Meek Mill of old would never have stooped to overt mimicry; he rapped with inimitable conviction. Rick Ross's incendiary factotum was often more entertaining than Ross himself. Dreamchasers 3, Meek's mixtape from 2013, found the rapper at his most intemperate; he went out of way to impress upon the listener his desire to fuck them up. The five-minute vigilante manifesto "Heaven or Hell" still has to be heard to be believed.
True to his origins on the Philadelphia battle rap circuit, Meek Mill was a knock-around guy, but lately he's been in a distracted funk, sniping counterproductively at Drake, 50 Cent and others. Meanwhile, his actual music continues to get incrementally worse.
On Wins & Losses, Meek makes a calculated attempt to blend in with rap's mainstream. Rather than assert himself, though, he apes collaborators like Young Thug and Lil Uzi Vert, often mimicking their cadences to an uncanny tee. For every hot line ("Scoop a supermodel in the Murcielago, make her take a cab back"), there's a squandered opportunity. We'd expect this from a charlatan with no identity, but not an MC of Meek's stature.
From "Save Me" to "1942 Flows," "Glow Up" to "These Scars," the songs here are grayish and oppressively monochromatic, with stiff, sedate drums. "Heavy Heart" is a lone reminder that intestinal fortitude used to be Meek's province, but overall, Wins & Losses is mostly the latter. (Maybach Music Group/Atlantic)