UPDATED 5/8, 2:14 p.m. ET: We learned in Meek Mill and Angie Martinez's Tidal interview exactly what Meek thinks of Kanye’s recent remarks that centuries of slavery “sounds like a choice."
“I ain’t have a choice to grow up in PH. I was born in public housing,” he said. “My mom was on welfare when I was born. I had a choice as I grew up to be able to change that and work, as I grew, to change my situation. But I grew up in that. I know it's a lot of other young kids growing up with these situations." He added that he recently spoke to six children, and that all except one had seen someone get shot, clearly none by choice. "They gon' be traumatized, and some of 'em gonna turn to the streets. It's mandatory. People put us in certain areas like, 'He deserve it, he deserve it.'"
There were, of course, happier moments during Meek’s time in prison, like when Beyoncé said “free Meek” on wax. “I did a backflip off the toilet in the cell,” said Meek. That and the Eagles' Super Bowl win were "two days I felt like I wasn't in jail." The rest of the time, unfortunately, he felt oppressed and surveilled. “All cameras followed me every day,” he said. “I can’t do nothing the regular inmates [were] doing. But it was cool after three or four months.”
When Martinez prodded the rapper about any potential announcements he could drop in terms of new music, Meek didn’t hold back. “I can if I really want to,” he said, revealing he has a slew of new music he could release immediately. Then again, he isn’t fully ready yet. “I ain’t rap in eight months, I ain’t rap one rap in jail…I can only rap when I feel good,” he said, explaining that he uses beats to write.
He also turned down offers to battle in prison. “I don’t wanna battle, man, I’m tryina battle home,” he said. “I’m tryna get out of here.”
Now that he’s officially out, Meek is focused on staying out—with a whole new perspective on life. “When you coming from inside you gotta understand, do you really wanna be in this position where you just came from?” Meek said. “I came from upstate…everybody else got long sentences and you just got two years, you still gotta be humble."
Perhaps most poignantly, he said going back to prison wouldn’t just be a disappointment to himself—but to those who’ve held him down all along, as well. “I’m different now,” he said. “I got a lot of people riding with me…what would I look like going back inside a prison, letting my family down?” He used Jay Z as a template for his actions and behavior moving forward, saying Hov inspired him at a young age to be smart and make the right moves.
“When Jay Z was 35 years old and I was 15 years old, some of the stuff he said stuck with me for a long time,” he said, going on to add he's doing being "thugged out Meek Mill" and doing "stupid stuff that could jeopardize your career." He admitted "there’s no need for me to pretend that that's my life.”
While in prison, Meek himself turned to artists to keep him inspired—from some of the new school to the classics of old. "I was listening to a lot of real stuff, Jay Z, ‘Da Sequel’ with Memphis Bleek. Nipsey album, Migos’ album. I love Cardi but I ain’t gon’ be in a jail cell bumping Cardi,” he said to uproarious laughter from the audience. “Much love, much respect, but…” But that was all Meek listened to while inside—there was a whole slew of others he made sure to mention, as they presumably helped him mentally leave his cell for a few moments. “Gunna, Lil Baby, Future and Young Thug’s CD,” he said. “Of course, I had classics, DMX, Nas, Jigga, Jeezy, Tip, Wayne—that’s the era of the type of music I came up to,” he said. “I had a lot of music that helped me get through tough times.”
In terms of the future, Meek is excited to release a new documentary exploring the vast injustices of the American prison system. “I did a deal with Amazon, being produced by Jay Z, basically just breaking down the dynamics of the justice system and the policies and laws that’s entrapping young minorities like myself, that’s being caught in the system,” he said. “You don’t really understand the steps on why the person was put in prison…we just giving you a breakdown.”
“I don’t care about getting extra credit for doing something for people,” he said. “I wanna see everybody win.”
When Martinez asked him what exactly he means by that, he clarified that this rarified air that supported him throughout his struggles shouldn’t just exist for famous people. “I would ask to continue to make this a situation,” he said. “Don’t let my situation die down and that’s the end of the story. …Young kids get shot by police and we hashtag 'em for six months and just move on, like no—let’s keep the narrative and not only address them when it’s a public figure."
See original story below.
Meek Mill is the very first guest on Tidal's brand new show One on One, hosted by Angie Martinez. According to Billboard, the show takes a deep dive into the successes and obstacles of "today's most culturally influential people."
Watch it live on Tidal right now; it began just after 12:30 p.m. EST.
This is the second interview for the rapper since his recent prison release, the first being a Dateline sit-down with Lester Holt just yesterday. "Following a decade-long battle with the broken justice system, Mill’s recent release underscores his long history of success through adversary circumstances," the streaming service said in a statement. "One of One will give Mill the platform to tell his story, share the experiences that have gotten him here today, and discuss how recent experiences will affect new music and social activism." Both before and after his release, Meek and his legal team have been vocal about the corruption and bias that have affected his trial and sentencing and called for reform of the legal system, particularly in the state of Pennsylvania.
This isn't the first work Meek has done with Tidal since his release. He also put together a 19-song playlist titled 169 Days, which is the length of time Meek spent behind bars. "These are the vibes that kept my spirits up while I was incarcerated feeling like I was in a situation that was hell on earth," the description reads.