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Album Review | HIP-HOP

Meek Mill, ‘Dreams & Nightmares’

Hip-hop’s bountiful fall continues with this taut, often terrific, major label bow from the Philly native. Mill (Robert Williams to his parents) is a tough-minded MC, who has improved by leaps since being taken under Rick Ross’s wing. This set mixes unblinking, dark narratives with more familiar Maybach Music bangers about oversize appetites. On the latter he has a penchant for clichés, and there are a few unnecessary cameos from high-profile guests, but those missteps are overshadowed by the honesty and intensity of his nightmares. “Traumatized,” with its interpolation of “Ain’t No Sunshine,” is one of this year’s best hip-hop songs as Mill reflects on the murder of people close to him and the psychic scars that never heal. “Tony Story Pt. 2” is also affecting with its plaintive track and Mill’s clear-eyed tale of mayhem and loss. “Who You’re Around,” with a fine turn from Mary J. Blige, is poignant and potent. Mill is a powerful, creative storyteller who is also song savvy — a lethal combination. (Out Tuesday)

ESSENTIAL “Traumatized”

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