Up until July 24, when a Philadelphia appeals court finally overturned his 2008 conviction on drug and gun charges, granting him a new trial, Meek Mill had spent his entire adult life in the criminal justice system. Meek watched as his rap career suffered from the conditions of his parole, which kept him from touring and promoting his music and often caused him to be back in trouble for minor infractions.
Peaking in 2017, Meek was given a two-to four-year prison sentence for parole violations after being caught in an Instagram video popping a wheelie on a dirt bike. Despite all the support from fans and some very powerful friends, Meek spent five months in prison before being released on bail. During this time, he spent time in solitary confinement which was, he tells variety, “the worst experience of my life. I’ve been around drugs, been around murder, death, funerals, all these things, but being locked alone in a cell 24 hours, seven days, was the worst mental fight I’ve ever been through.”
After this experience, Meek Mill found himself becoming the public face of America’s broken probation system and Amazon’s upcoming five-part docu-series “Free Meek”, premiering Aug. 9, will tell how it all happened. But activism, or advocacy as he calls it, is nonetheless something that’s been gifted to him whether he wanted it or not.
“I think most activists have it in their heart that this is what they love to do seven days a week. Me, I don’t love to do interviews about reform seven days a week. This wasn’t a part of my life until it became my life experience, but I’ve seen people stand up for me, so I’m gonna use what I’ve built up through my rap career to pay people back and get my message across.”
“Free Meek” was in the process of being developed while Meek was still incarcerated, and it was Philadelphia 76ers partner Michael Rubin who encouraged producer Eli Holzman to develop a documentary on Meek’s experience. Holzman partnered with Roc Nation and journalist Paul Solotaroff, with Amazon soon coming on board.
During his interview with variety Meek says he hopes projects like “Free Meek” and Ava DuVernay’s “When They See Us” will open eyes and raise awareness, but in the mean time his recently established nonprofit, the Reform Alliance, is petitioning for more specific changes to the probation system.