Meek Mill released his new album Championships and is on top of the Hip Hop world again. He's had a tumultuous career and life. Music wise many counted Meek out when he lost his rap battle against Drake. Fans insinuated the Philly native's career was over. Though if you follow Hip Hop history, you knew he would be back and come back stronger than ever.
One of my mantras is good music is king. JAY-Z lost to Nas, badly, but he consistently put out good music and it didn't end his career. Drake lost to Pusha T, terribly, but released Scorpion shortly thereafter which was one of the most successful releases of 2018. Good product wins every time.
People also love a comeback story, especially in the Hip Hop realm. We love our favorite artists when they're underground and our best-kept secret. A few of the artists will get the recognition fans believe they deserve and they're elated for the artist. But once the artist becomes too commercially successful some start to say the artist has sold out and they want the old version of the artist back. The musician starts to receive backlash for a moment until they release an undeniable project and the fans are in love again. Nas, Diddy, Jay Z, Kanye West, Drake, and numerous others have all been through the highs and lows that come with longevity.
Meek is credited with social consciousness now, though he has always had that in his music. “Traumatized” from his 2012 album Dreams and Nightmares is very similar to “Trauma” on Championships. He has always provided the authentic, dark and precarious side to growing up in poverty with drugs, death, and paranoia. Though as Meek points out people are just listening different now that he's seen in a more positive light.
Where the prison reform advocate has really matured is being able to spread his story, and the story of so many, to the world to help engineer change. He could have easily got out of prison with the help of his billionaire friends who have leverage and continued to make music without changing or providing aid to a corrupt justice system. Meek felt a responsibility to help those who did not have billionaire friends that could bring his case to the attention of CNN and others across the world.
One of his most poignant moments was on Angie Martinez’s show when he vowed, he did not care if Kim Kardashian was genuine or not for getting Donald Trump to pardon Alice Johnson. The greater goal was accomplished.
Many hip hop artists, entertainers in general, wouldn't engage at all with Donald Trump from fear of backlash from their fan base but, why not? Trump was a politician who wants to be liked, if you can free the innocent or excessively sentenced why not do it? It doesn't mean you have to put on a MAGA hat or start building a wall. Kim K did it without compromising her stance, so can everyone else.
Championships is a huge moment for music. The redemption and vulnerability of the album are second to none released this year. So often people can be ignorant to the criminal justice system, and any challenges are met with “you do the crime you do the time.” Meek let the world into the circumstances presented to him and ask if you were put in that situation how would you react? If murder was as present as the mailman would you not carry a gun to protect yourself? If you had no father around because he was murdered and a mother who worked all the time who do you think babysits?
As Tupac famously said when a rose grows from concrete…
“They ask us why we mutilate each other like we do
They wonder why we hold such little worth for human life
(Facing all this drama)
To ask us why we turn from bad to worse is to ignore from which we came
You see, you wouldn't ask why the rose that grew from the concrete had damaged petals
On the contrary, we would all celebrate its tenacity
We would all love its will to reach the sun
Well, we are the roses (we are the roses)
This is the concrete (this is the concrete)
And these are my damaged petals (and these are my damaged petals)
Don't ask me why (Don't ask why)
Thank God, nigga (Thank God)
Ask me how (ask me how)”- Tupac Shakur
Don’t ask Meek why, ask how.