Meek Mill was left for dead.
A series of scandals, personal losses, and legal issues saw the Philly rapper suffer a tough couple years.
In the summer of 2013, Meek Mill’s protege Lil Snupe was gunned down in Winnfield, La. Snupe’s murder was the subject of an emotional song from Meek as he wondered what someone in his position was supposed to do.
“And all he wanted was a coupe, all he wanted was a coupe
So what’s a n**** ‘sposed to do?
Tell ’em put the guns down or tell lil n**** shoot?”
Then Meek was sentenced to three to six months in jail for violating his parole, stemming from an altercation with a police officer when he was 18. Meek was released from prison in December 2014.
Upon his release, Meek began dating superstar Nicki Minaj. Musically, he returned in summer 2015 with Dreams Worth More Than Money, and it all looked rosy for the MMG kid.
Then Meek went a little wild.
Showing that he did not have some of the composure or decorum of most of the music industry’s stars, Meek Mill went on a Twitter rant aimed at Drake over allegations that the OVO leader had ghostwriters scripting his music.
It all started as Meek was pissed off by Drake’s line on “R.I.C.O.” in which Drizzy quipped “the girl of your dreams to me is probably not a challenge.” Initially Meek thought that was a comment about Nicki Minaj, but then someone clued him into the fact that Drake didn’t even write the verse.
He ain't even write that verse on my album and if I woulda knew I woulda took it off my album….. I don't trick my fans! Lol
— Meek Mill (@MeekMill) July 22, 2015
We won’t post the entire Twitter rant here, but it was truly one of the most entertaining and unhinged moments in recent rap history.
Drake shot back at Meek Mill with multiple diss tracks, allegedly playing “Back to Back” all night in a hotel room right above the room Meek was staying in.
This whole kerfuffle demonstrated Drake’s power within the rap game.
The result of this beef was mostly that people forgot about the fact that Quintin Miller was writing a lot of Drake’s bars and instead focused on Meek Mill taking a series of L’s.
Meek Mill was memed and his Instagram was bombarded with emojis and comments about how Drake dominated him on the diss tracks.
Then earlier this year, Nicki Minaj and Meek ended their relationship, seemingly adding to Meek’s woes.
That’s the context in which Meek Mill released his third studio album, Wins & Losses, last Friday.
The album is a hell of a reaction from Meek Mill, who had seemingly been left behind by the rap game.
Wins & Losses is a conscious return to form for Meek, who came up rapping about the trials and tribulations of his Philly upbringing. On an earlier mixtape this year, Meekend Music, a song “Left Hollywood” symbolizes this return.
Meek spoke to Rolling Stone about the track,
“It’s more like a metaphor. I did move from L.A., but it’s more like a metaphor. I’m catering back towards the streets, like, the culture that helped build me up from day one. The street culture, the street rap.”
Wins & Losses is definitely wrapped up in the street culture and street rap.
But the title of the album itself is Meek owning the up and down nature of his career and public life in recent years as he told Billboard,
“Everybody saying that I’m losing and I lost. I lost my case. I lost my friends to the streets. Those things really meant something to me. I started off in the basement on a karaoke machine. Now I’m in million-dollar studios, making a lot of money being able to feed my family and take them out a crazy environment, still being able to wake up on my own time and do things how I want to do it. That’s my definition of winning. I determine my definition of losing on this album.”
Meek Mill has taken back control of his own persona after controversy, legal issues, and Drake beef.
From the outset of Wins & Losses, the presence of old Meek is undeniable. He’s a master of the intro, pick out any Meek project and that first track is a certifiable banger.
The titular track “Wins & Losses” is no different.
Meek scream-raps in typical fashion about glowing up despite the hate,
“When they all thought we was finished, they was laughing at that
So I went and bought me a Dawn and flipped that hat to the back”
“Connect The Dots” with Yo Gotti and Rick Ross is a vintage, maximal, MMG cocaine-flipping track that harkens back to Meek’s earliest work with the MMG boss.
But Meek also gets pretty thoughtful on Wins & Losses, rapping about the condition of impoverished inner-city America on “Young Black America.”
On the politically-charged track, Meek raps about that run-in with police that has stained his record for years,
“Yeah, I was on that corner, tryna get my coins up
Coppers run up on us and we turn to Jackie Joyner
White man kill a black man, they never report us
Black man kill a white man, they gon’ start a war up
Mama she was tore up, sippin’ on the Absolut”
Billboard asked Meek Mill about getting political and that fateful altercation with police. Meek spoke about how one moment can determine a man’s freedom,
“I was 18 and got beat up by a cop and almost killed by cops. I was just a statistic coming up. The cops… thinking everybody else in the neighborhood is dangerous or everybody in the hood is killers. They caught me and treated me like I was a killer. I don’t think that’s really right. The cop gave me a 100 charges with trying to kill a cop. I don’t want to kill a cop. They basically put me on probation for the rest of my life from that point on when I was 18. I’m 30 now and still on probation. I’ve been to jail three times from that one stint of probation. Any mistake you make, you’ll be put in prison. Your freedom can be took.
Talk your shit Meek.
While returning to his roots and wanting to make music for the street, Meek is also speaking to real social and political issues.
After all he’s been through, my dude is competing with Lana Del Rey for the number 1 album in the country.
Shouts out Meek. We’re all happy to see the Philly kid back doing his thing.