BY BANDINI • NOVEMBER 30, 2018
This morning (November 30), Meek Mill released his highly-anticipated Championships album. A year ago this month, few could have imagined that the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania MC could be victorious in much of anything. Although last year’s Wins & Losses garnered acclaim, the Maybach Music Group star was in serious legal trouble that derailed his career and his earnings. Meek’s high-profile relationship with Nicki Minaj dissolved. He also admitted to battling a pill addiction. Just a couple of years of being the loser (in many fans’ eyes) to Drake in a battle he initiated, Meek Mill’s career went from a dirt-bike wheelie to a wipeout.
From behind the bars of a Chester, Pennsylvania prison, Meek Mill became a figurehead for a movement to change the criminal justice system. Sent away for what many perceived as minor infractions, Meek’s case was examined closely. Investigative reports suggested that Meek’s presiding judge had it out for him, with opinions on the music he makes and personal requests. Perhaps more notably, a separate investigation looked at the police team that apprehended Meek years ago, when his career was taking form. Corruption and brutality marred the charges that Robert Rimeek Miller was still paying for. JAY-Z and Roc Nation, along with Meek’s Atlantic Records led #FreeMeek campaigns in Philly and across the country. Everybody from Philly District Attorney Larry Krasner to Drake joined the party. When the Philadelphia Eagles won the Super Bowl, “Dreams & Nightmares” was the soundtrack.
In April, the rapper came home—released early. He left prison for a helicopter ride, on top, and in powerful company. On the outside, Meek has continued to rally just like the people calling for his freedom. The issues of the crazy journey are center-stage on “What’s Free,” a standout cut within Championships, featuring Rick Ross and JAY-Z.
The song flips The Notorious B.I.G.’s 21-year-old “What’s Beef?” a song that addressed conflicts with a real examination of the word. Streetrunner and Tarik Azzouz rework the Hitmen-produced original. While Meek addresses justice reform and urges people to be mindful of where they get their information. Mill’s MMG homie Ross follows with the flavor that only he can bring, but it is Jay who gives Heads another stop-the-presses moment.