Review: Meek Mill’s ‘Championships’ Is His Most Inspired Album Yet

The life of Meek Mill has been nothing short of an American epic. He grew up poor, raised by a single mother after his dad was shot and killed when he was 5-years-old. He emerged as a teenage rap sensation flowing on Philadelphia street corners (“I break bricks and throw shells like Mario”) and eventually grew into one of the country’s most charismatic rap stars – a self-made millionaire who fulfilled his wildest dreams. And yet he has never been able to cast off the lidless, Sauron-like gaze of the criminal justice system. He has been on probation since he caught weapons and drugs charges in 2007, and late last year, Judge Genece Brinkley, who has been assigned to his case since the very beginning, ruled that he violated probation by popping a wheelie on his dirt bike in upper Manhattan and sentenced him to two-to-four years in prison.

When the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned Meek’s sentence five months later in April 2018, he emerged from Graterford Correctional Facility with a burning desire to speak out against the ills of the justice system. He appeared on NBC Dateline, penned an op-ed in the New York Times, and announced a new foundation spearheaded by himself and 76ers owner Michael Rubin. In the lead-up to the release of his new full-length Championships, he eschewed conventional promotional tactics in favor of candid discussions of criminal justice reform on CNN, Ellen, and Beats 1. Though Meek insists he doesn’t consider himself an activist, he has positioned himself, at the very least, as an advocate.

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