Rap star Meek Mill has long since graduated from being a regular hip-hop artist. His moves, music and words have a lasting impact on popular culture, and he’s become fully cognizant of his growing influence beyond the studio and away from the stage.
The Maybach Music artist, who considers himself a victim of America’s pernicious penal system, took time away from his busy industry schedule to school CNN host Michael Smerconish on the realities of the criminal justice system and its traditionally unjust treatment of Blacks and minorities.
Even as Meek, who was born Robert Rihmeek Williams 31 years ago in Philadelphia, admitted that it was a dream of his to appear on CNN, Meek nevertheless had to set Smerconish straight about his checkered past and why folks believe Meek is the wrong spokesperson for criminal justice reform.
“A lot of people who go back in and out of prison are being stuck by a parole system or a probation system where not even committing crimes puts you back in prison,” he said. “I learned from personal experience. I actually spent time with men that had 28 months in prison for $100 bail, and they weren’t even found guilty for their crimes, and $100 kept them in prison. We as taxpayers, even myself, had to pay money to keep guys like this in prison. It was for, like, a petty crime.
“So things like that never made sense to me. Even being on probation — I’ve been on probation since I was 19 years old. I’m 31 years old. Growing up in the system, I always thought this was normal, and I didn’t value myself the way that I value myself now.”
Meek, who used to date firebrand Nicki Minaj, also addressed the growing split between former friends Jay-Z and Kanye West. Hov seemed to blast Kanye on the Meek Mill joint “What’s Free,” which is the first single from Meek’s new Championships album.
“I don’t think he really goes after Kanye,” the rapper said of Jay-Z’s “What’s Free” verse. “I think he actually just says, ‘Don’t let him separate us like they did Michael Jackson and Prince,’ basically.
“Kanye came out of nowhere and just went ‘red hat,’ and that was kind of like against everything we represent … I don’t know what [West] represents, but coming up in the hip-hop community, we came up fighting and fighting for our rights for a long time. What that red hat represents doesn’t really represent what we’ve been fighting for our whole lives.”
Check out Meek Mills full CNN interview below on the Cable News Network’s YouTube page: