Meek Mill: Coming of AgeJune 21st, 2012
By Dan Reagans
It’s been said, you’re nobody ‘til somebody kills you, but in this scandal-driven generation you haven’t quite arrived as a star until you become daily fodder for TMZ. Last week Maybach Music Group rapper Meek Mill had his coming-out moment when he earned several mentions on the tabloid site for his reported role in the Chris Brown and Drake nightclub royal rumble. Though Meek has adamantly denied being an instigator in the bottle-throwing melee that became headline news for all major media outlets, he still drew a mention from TMZ honcho Harvey Levin, who, like many Americans, was introduced to the Philadelphia native through this wild controversy.
I’m almost certain the Google search numbers on Meek Mill hit a peak last week as he became more than just another fresh-faced rapper with a story of struggle common to the craft. These days you need more than dope music and solid co-sign to make it into the big time. In the era of internet rap fame, those that cross over to the mainstream spotlight have to offer something worthwhile. Though Meek’s story might sound familiar, the way the Philly spitter has beat the odds and transformed his local fame into burgeoning super stardom is rather fascinating. One could say he’s a throwback to the days when rappers would only talk about what they experienced and attain those aspirational goals without selling out. Rap fans used to enjoy rooting for those guys cause watching their rise was fun and pure. No gimmicks, no games. Just hard work and great music.
I’m sure I’m not the only person who failed to hear what T.I. heard in the young wordsmith when he signed him to Grand Hustle Records back in 2009. Though things didn’t work out with the King of the South, due mostly to Tip’s legal woes, Meek was built Philly tough and eventually won me and many others over with persistency. His hunger and ambition was undeniable and you could hear it in every gut-punching line in his music.
Now the 25-year-old star is playing a key role on a winning team and pulling a hefty share of the weight. It’s a remarkable feat given everything he has experienced in his brief career. Coming up in a city that he dubbed “the new Iraq,” Meek knows all too well what the other side of the game offers and that without question fuels his fire. After some short stints in jail and a stalled deal with Grand Hustle, the “Tupac Back” rapper was on a course to join the ranks of all those rappers who had it and almost made it. Especially following the rise and fall of the city’s biggest rap act (post Fresh Prince & DJ Jazzy Jeff era), Beanie Sigel and his State Property crew, it was almost imperative for Meek to make it big to save his hometown’s relevance in hip hop. Meek spit bars of life back to the Philadelphia rap scene. Keeping his flow gritty and still spitting with the stench of the block on his lapels, Meek has drawn praise from legends like Nas and found a business partner in Jay-Z. (Meek signed on to Roc nation management.)
It’s safe to say the youngster has arrived, let’s hope the rest of the journey is as fun to watch and listen to as the beginning has been. Amen.
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