Meek Mill came into 2011 a relatively unknown name in Hip-Hop, but that changed quickly as the year began to take off. He signed a deal with Maybach Music/Warner Bros., and Rick Ross became a mentor. XXL added him to their list of Freshmen to look out for. Then the hits came rolling in. Coming into 2012 it seems his buzz is unstoppable. We spoke to him recently about his journey, the music, DreamChasers the mixtape and the future. Here’s the whole picture behind Meek Mill.
Parlé Magazine: You had an amazing year in 2011 and it looks like it’s going to be very bright for you in 2012, what can fans expect from you this year?
Meek Mill: I’m just getting warmed up, getting my name out in the streets. Hopefully I’ll be putting out the best music of 2012. I’m one of the hottest, newest artists out in the street, I’m trying to keep that name up, hold it up at its best.
Parlé: You started your career as part of a group, a lot of people don’t know that. How’d you get to this point though?
Meek Mill: I was in a group, BloodHoundz, me and my little homies from around the way. But we all started getting locked up and everyone started going their different ways. We still hung with each other doing different things at different times. I ended up branching out by myself cause one of us might be locked up—its hard managing a group in the streets.
Parlé: When you first got on you, you were signed to Grand Hustle. How’d you hook up with T.I.?
Meek Mill: One of my old managers, he was cool with Tip. Tip was willing to work with me but I was getting locked up, Tip was getting locked up so we never really got a chance to go all the way in with what we were trying to do.
Parlé: Speaking up getting locked up, it’s clear that you were locked up a number of times, but it’s not so clear what you were getting locked up for.
Meek Mill: Everything. Everything that someone in the streets would get locked up for.
Parlé: (Laughs). Okay. And you’re still on probation now?
Meek Mill: Yeah. I’m about to get off though, soon.
Parlé: How’d you end up as a member of Maybach Music?
Meek Mill: Running into Ross on the road or rocking shows with Ross, he might be the headliner and he would stand around and watch me rock a show. Ross was on twitter one time and he was like, “Philly Wat Up”. I hit him up like, “Yeah Ross, wat up? Why don’t you get on this “Rozay Red” remix.” It got about 20,000 retweets, everybody ended up supporting the movement, he saw the support, and he ended up doing the song.
Parlé: Okay. And last year you had the song “Tupac Back,” how’d that come about. Considering that you’re from Philly, some might wonder why not a tribute to B.I.G.?
Meek Mill: I didn’t even make that hook, Ross made that hook. It just wasn’t a Biggie type of beat, it was a Pac type of beat. I’m a young street rapper, he felt I could represent the song right, so I just spit over it and represented.
Parlé: “I’ma Boss”, let’s talk about that record. Did Ross come up with that hook as well?
Meek Mill: Naw, after my first meeting with Ross he told me, “Come back with something, let me know, I want to get on something.” Went home, thought Rick Ross, got the right beat, brung the hook to him, he laid down his verse and the adlibs and that was that.
Parlé: That whole creative process for that first album with you guys, how was it? I know you just said you brought that track back to him, but with you all being in different areas, did ya’ll all get together in a room…
Meek Mill: We did a lot of them together in a room, “Play Your Part”, “Pandemonium”, we did a lot of songs in a room, but you know Ross be on the road, I be on the road, Wale be on road. We really don’t have no choice but to email sometimes.
Parlé: I know people that have been talking about Meek for years. What can you tell people about your hustle over the last few years that got you to this point? Cause some people feel like you just stepped on the scene.
Meek Mill: You can check on youtube, see me with the nappy braids at 15, going hard. Views are at 100, 200 thousand views and they didn’t come from just now. I been grinding for a minute. People from Philly go to college with people from all over so it’s always gonna be people from your college talking about, “he’s the shit”. But you know, I been grindin’ for a minute. I actually been buzzing in my area for a minute—Phiily, Delaware, Jersey area.
Parlé: You’re only 24 now, the youngest out the crew, I just feel like your hustle is soo much more then people can even comprehend…
Meek Mill: I’m actually going to put out a couple documentaries and DVDs to let people see what my life like, if you don’t know. So it’ll be coming soon if you don’t know.
Parlé: Let’s talk about this DreamChasers mixtape which has been a really good look for you. How’d you go about putting that together?
Meek Mill: I wanted my first mixtape to have something to do with me. It’s my first mixtape as a signed artist, I knew the whole world was going to hear it. It has something to do with me—my life, what I’m involved in, that’s what I was doing at the time, so that’s what made the most sense.
Parlé: You got a lot of artists from Philly on the project, are you trying to develop that Philly movement again?
Meek Mill: Yeah, you know I’m from Philly so it would always be nice for some young cats to come behind me and make some money. That’s why I always try to keep someone from Philly on my CD or something cause this where I came from. Always gotta leave the door open so that someone else could make money.
Parlé: Do you listen to music like that now? Are there any artist who’s grind you appreciate that aren’t part of the crew?
Meek Mill: I don’t really bump a lot of people. I like Future, Drake, not too many people—Wayne, Tip. That’s it really besides the team.
Parlé: Before you drop the album, what do you want people to understand about Meek first and foremost.
Meek Mill: I just want you to like my music. I try to understand the people, I make my music for the people to relate to me, no matter what environment they in.
Parlé: Even XXL labeled you the “Street Dude” in their feature…
Meek Mill: Uh huh, they probably labeled me the streets cause that’s where I come from, but that’s not all I’m about.
Parlé: As far as what we can expect from Meek this year, even Ross came out “Hustlin’ Hard,” but then he had to smooth it out on the R & B tip. Can we expect that from you?
Meek Mill: Of course, you gotta do that, you don’t want to be performing in the grimiest spots of Detroit and Ohio cause you want to be hood. You gotta tune it down if you want to make money. Cause the streets ain’t gonna feed you all the time. Streets ain’t gonna give you no three time Platinum album or anything like that.
Parlé: How did you use the internet to boost the buzz?
Meek Mill: The internet is the best thing popping, it’s free promotion. I tell people that, when young people ask what can I tell them. It’s the best thing you can use, a free tool to get yourself out to the world at the click of a button.
Parlé: How far are you along on the process for that debut album? Do you have a title yet?
Meek Mill: Naw, no title yet. I really didn’t even get the first session for my album yet. When I go to the studio and get involved with what type of songs I’m making, that’s when I’ll come up with titles.
Parlé: Thanks for the time man. Much continued success.
Since this interview, Meek Mill has announced the release of his debut album, Dreams and Nightmares, to hit streets on August 28th.
Images by Jay LA Bastien for Parlé Magazine