Meek Mill was having the time of his life after releasing his debut album Dreams And Nightmares in late 2012, but last year the MMG rapper was unexpectedly sentenced to six months in jail (but served only five) for violating probation on a previous gun and drug arrest. That changed everything.
In his new XXL cover story, Meek explains how much he's grown after living through that experience, and how it's affected his music. And, yes, he also speaks candidly about his feelings for Nicki Minaj, who he reportedly got engaged to earlier this week.
He didn't expect to go to jail
"I ain’t had no idea I was going to jail. Like, I came from L.A. two, three days before, BET Weekend, or something like that. Then went to court, boom, I’m in jail the same day. Devastating."
It was difficult being isolated, but now he understands why his judge was so tough on him
"What I took from it, [the judge] just seen me acting in a certain manner and being a certain way, which she viewed me in that I wasn’t supposed to be in [while] on probation, and I got locked up," he said.
"Then I seen what she saw. I couldn’t see it until I actually was locked up. I was going through stuff with people on Twitter, talking back and forth…she kind’ve seen that. They see that world too, you know what I’m saying? I think she recognized it, and I kind’ve think it saved me really. I think it was the best thing that happened to me at that time. See what it is, like, a lot of people don’t understand that and I ain’t really understand that, but the judge I got, she really got a super high potential for me."
Jail changed his perspective on life and music
"Somebody from my hood come at me right now, I know that I don’t wanna go through it with [them] right now," he said. "I know all I really wanna do is get money and take care of my family.
"I always look out for people. Whoever want a verse and stuff like that, I used to…the way I [did] it, I give everybody a verse if I’m cool with you. Now, it ain’t like that no more. I monitor. I want people to focus on my body of work before I have 10 songs out with 10 other dudes. And people ain’t used to it, so I’m trying to make them understand that. I ain’t got as much time as I would usually have because I’m focusing more on myself now."
He's not shy about his feelings for Nicki Minaj
"That’s my baby right there. Sh-t real," he said when asked about their relationship, adding that he now does things that he wouldn't have before.
"I tell her that. I’m like, 'I don’t really hold hands, but like, I’ll hold hands with you.' She know that. Like, I don’t really do things, but certain people make you do certain little stuff and it be like, 'Sh-t, I don’t care.' They can catch me in the pictures doing anything nowadays, holding an umbrella for Nicki, you know what I’m saying?"
They're definitely competitive with each other
"Yeah, if we rapping on a song together, shit, Nicki gotta get it too. Or she might give it to me, you know how it go, everybody on the menu. Ain’t no stopping. Yeah, we be sitting there talking about that sometimes. And we be having conversations sometimes like, “That flow? Yeah, I got that flow from you,' or, 'You got that flow from me.' We argue and sh't like that all the time."
He's feeling more confident than ever
"I sound like me, but just on another level. I ain’t come in trying to do the Drake melody or the Kendrick [Lamar] lyrics or J. Cole… Nah, I sound like Meek Mill. That energy of Meek Mill, just on another level," he explained.
"People say, 'Is he talking about his Rollie, is he talking about bitches?' I may be talking about my Rollie, but this time, I’m telling you how I got this sh-t and what it took me to get it. It’s just different things. Like I said, I’ve been in it for four years, came out in 2012. I was 24, maybe going on 25. It’s different now, everything’s different about me."