Philly rapper Meek Mill released his fourth studio album at the end of November, a year after his third: ‘Wins and Loses.’ The album features some of the greatest such as Cardi B, Rick Ross, Jay -Z, Future and Drake. Meek doesn’t disappoint with this one, giving his fans another explosive ‘Intro,’ expeditious bars spat to well-known classic music and an inspiring message for young black people. Championships is also the first album the rapper has released since he was released from prison in April 2018, convicted for breaking his bail for a crime he committed 10 years prior. It’s clear, however, that Meek Mill hasn’t lost his energy. His fast-paced lyrics roll off his tongue like it’s nothing and his delivery is, as always, full of energy.
It also seems like Meek and Drake have resolved their issues and terminated their feud. It started when Meek accused Drake of having a Ghost Writer and for three years the two took shots at each other over social media and in their music. With that conflict having ended, there may be room for more as Cardi B features in one of the songs from his album. Earlier this year at the New York Fashion Week party, Cardi B and Meek Mill’s ex, Nicki Minaj were both involved in an altercation which ended with a high heel being thrown and a bump on Cardi’s forehead. Meek and Nicki’s relationship ended on good terms, which continued even after Nicki’s verse in “Barbie Dreams.” It seems, however, that she has recently blocked him on Instagram.
What sets Meek Mill apart from most rappers is the clear message he sends out to youth that are in the situation he had been in years before and sheds light onto some big issues that America is facing. This includes the judicial system, gun violence, racism and the disparities between the rich and poor areas in the US.
‘Oodles O’Noodles Babies’ is a song that reveals the reality of where Meek Mill grew up. Meek has experienced a lot of death in his life, including his Aunty and his father and cousin who both died at the hands of guns. These inspire a lot of his lyrics and demonstrate the violence that is ignored in America. He speaks about children’s transition from holding video game controllers to holding guns and highlights a cycle that very rarely seems to break:
“Lot of daddies goin’ back and forth out of jail
Lot of sons growin’ up and repeating them”
You may also notice that when he raps about Court Judge Brinkley, the judge who has overseen his case since he was 18, he never attacks her. Instead, he seeks to show people the unjustness of not only his case but the many cases involving black people. His case is unique because the judge that sends him to prison is a black woman. In a verse in ‘Trauma’, Meek implies that there are powerful white people above Judge Brinkley and the only way for her and many black people to progress in their careers is to impress them by taking advantage of disadvantaged black people:
“Tryna impress them people in power when power abusin’ us”
‘What’s Free’ featuring Rick Ross and Jay-Z, not only echoes Notorious B.I.G’s “What’s Beef” but also an important US political issue. What does it mean to be free? Especially in democracies like the US, where the word “freedom” is seen as the main value, there are many instances that seem to contradict this. Meek, Ross and Jay rap about issues such as what we see on TV and racism in the US. The main inspiration for this song is Meek’s court case but it reflects on the systems and institutions that run America. In an interview with Breakfast Club, Meek Mill revealed that he is still on probation and that his case could have a ruling at any time. Although he is out of prison, he wonders if he really is free.
Besides the trap style of music that Meek Mill uses in most his releases, his latest album samples many old classics. This isn’t something new to rap however what is impressive is the choice of songs. Meek’s introductory song, ‘Intro,’ samples Phil Collin’s ‘In The Air Tonight’, and is a totally unexpected choice to mix with Meek’s style of rap, but it actually works perfectly. Other songs in the album include:
‘Trauma’, which samples Barclay James Harvest’s ‘Taking Me Higher’,
‘What’s Free’, which samples Notorious B.I.G.’s ‘What’s Beef’,
‘Respect The Game’, which samples Lonnie Liston Smith’s ‘A Garden of Peace’,
‘24/7’, which samples Beyonce’s ‘Me, Myself and I’,
And ‘Cold Hearted II’, which samples Weeknd’s ‘I Was Never There.’
By Sam Dawson
Images provided by Meek Mill/Twitter