Meek Mill Talks French Montana’s ‘Wild’ Tour Moment, Rising Philly Rappers & Debut Album Songs
Some would say that the story is in chasing "the dream," but Philadelphia native Meek Mill paints a picture of what happens when you finally catch it. His triumphant story actually begins with a lost rap battle during his youth, which shocked him into taking his craft more seriously and the determined teenager vowed to never lose again.
In 2012, the Maybach Music Group signee has accomplished what many upstarts couldn't, all in less than two years. When Meek dropped his Mr. Philadelphia mixtape in August 2010, he reinvigorated the spirit of traditional hip-hop -- the independent project was a sort of rap-skill revival.
Older heads were grateful that the then-23-year-old had adopted the technical part of piecing lyrics together and younger fans were bewildered at how easily he could spit countless, head-scratching bars. But nearly everyone was excited to witness what they thought to be a new force to be reckoned with. Two years, two mixtapes and an MMG contract later, Meek Mill is well into his Dreamchasers catalog and prepping the release of his debut LP, Dreams and Nightmares, due Aug. 28.
The recent release of Dreamchasers 2 earlier this month, under Rick Ross' tutelage, shut the host site, DatPiff.com, down for hours with the majority of download requests coming out of the 215-area code. But his fanbase spans the nation. From freestyle DVDs and jail stints to birthday Range Rovers and yacht shindigs, Meek Mill is only beginning to dream big.
The BoomBox had a moment to sit with Meek Mill in Atlanta on Sunday (May 20) before his set on Drake's Club Paradise Tour. The discussion revealed stories of getting lyrics from his cameraman, meeting Nas one drunk night in Miami, which lead to their collaboration, studio sessions with Rick Ross' and name-dropping the next rappers to keep Philly on the map.
What's the wildest thing that's happened on the Club Paradise tour so far?
Ain't really no wild experiences back there [backstage], man. Everything is cool, moves the right way but I'd say the wildest experience would be on French Montana's bus and I don't go on his bus like that but his bus be the wildest experience [laughs]. People come back with videos and stuff.
You had a freestyle session with French on one of your tour v-logs too. Is that a normal thing for you -- freestyling on the bus?
We just be playing around, that's what we do. Everybody I be with, nobody rap but everybody freestyle. Nobody take it seriously but everybody on the bus freestyles.
You were in a group years ago when you were just starting out in Philly. Do you still talk to the other members?
Uh, not really. You know things change, man, when money gets involved and you start traveling more and you're not around as much, things change. Like, I ain't really been around none of them in the last few months.
Two years ago, you were always in Atlanta, being so closely affiliated with the Grand Hustle team. How does it feel the be back under different terms, on a major tour, with a whole new camp supporting you?
It always feels good in be back in the A man. Nice, pretty girls, nice club scene, cool people. The A got like... See, I'm from Philly and everybody's angry out there, but in the A, it's different, a lot of people are more cool. They show hospitality and it's fun down here. I love the club scene, the strip club scene, so it's always good to be in the A.
From your freestyle DVD days until now, how often do you reflect on where you came from?
I always reflect on it. Sometimes before I go to sleep or when I wake up. Just thinking about where I'm at now and where I used to be, I always reflect on it.
That's that "used to be a used to" concept off of Dreamchasers 2 right?
Yeah, "Used to be a used to."
Listen to Meek Mill's "Used to Be" Feat. Jordanne
Speaking of collaborations, how did the one with you and Nas, "Maybach Curtains," come about for your debut album, Dreams and Nightmares?
I always been a fan of Nas, my whole life. One time I saw him coming out of Club Liv [in Miami]. We both were wasted and he was just telling me about how he fucked with my music and you know, a couple months later, I contacted him and he came right to the studio, dropped it off and we put it together.
Do you have any idea what the lead single off of Self Made 2 is going to be? You have two joints on there right: "Black Magic" and "Actin' Up."
I don't know for sure, but it might be "Actin' Up." "These hoes be actin' up..." [he raps]. That's one of my favorite joints on there, I think it should be a single.
Why that one over "Black Magic"?
It's more single-like. It's more clubby, more likely to be a hit on the radio or in the club. Feel-good music.
What was it like while putting that one together?
I actually made that on the bus with the homies, nah mean? Even got some lines from 'em.
Yeah, the person with the camera'll probably give you a rap line, the person sitting there smoking weed might give you a rap line. But you know just having fun with it, freestyling, just putting it together.
How hard is it to make a song on the bus?
Easy. It's the same. You got the radio, loud speakers. All you need is the beats and music.
Do you already know which songs you'll be on for God Forgives, I Don't?
I don't even know exactly what... I've heard 100 songs from Ross and I've never heard the tracklist of what's laid out to be on the album, but hopefully, I should be on there. I got a lot of tracks with Ross so ain't no telling. When you dealing with Ross, this'll be his album one day and it'll be a total different thing next week, you know?
'Cause Ross records every day. So things can change -- dramatically.
How often do you record?
Right now, I'm touring, but my tour bus comes tomorrow so it's about to be every day.
Exactly how far along are you on your Dreams and Nightmares album?
I'm probably about halfway through and the vibe of it is just telling you the nightmare part of coming from the streets, being arrested and the trap life. The things that aren't good. The bad things that happen. And the dream part is me crossing over into rapping and living life, traveling the world, spending money and you know, living the life that everybody chases.
How's that working out?
Yeah, it's working out aiight.
That's a lot of change within a couple years. You used to all of this by now?
Yeah, it's cool to me. I've been getting used to it for a long time.
Have you started thinking of a lead single for Dreams and Nightmares?
Not yet, actually. Right now, we're focusing on the "Amen" record [off of Dreamchasers 2] with me and Drake. That's hot in the clubs right now. Hot on the internet, club and radio, so that's what we're rocking with.
Listen to Meek Mill's "Amen" Feat. Drake & Jeremih
We spoke with your right hand man Jahlil Beats last week and I let it slip that "Tony Story," off of your first Dreamchasers mixtape, is a fan favorite.
See, I think on the album I'll be back there working on another joint like "Tony Story Part Two." Just continuing the story for my fans that follow me. I just want to have that right and if you ain't following, you won't know where you started from.
What has been your craziest studio experience of all time? Last week, Jahlil said his was the hash brownie incident when you guys brought some into the studio.
[Laughs] That! That! That was my wildest studio experience right there. Jahlil, my man Lean, they were... Beyond high... On some "Resident Evil," zombie shit up in that joint.
He also told us about the time you nearly killed him on a video shoot.
Yeah, you know Jahlil real skinny man, so we were in the 458 [Ferrari] doing our thing and we kept tapping the gas and had him flying out the window.
Who besides Jahlil do you have behind the boards for Dreams and Nightmares?
We've got Cardiak, All Star, Tune the Beat Bully, the same people I've been working with but we'll have a few other producers on there. There ain't no telling and I haven't finished my tracklist yet so I can't name the features but Nas is definitely one that'll be on there for sure.
People love to say that Philly is a city of haters.
Yeah, nah, that's the truth.
But during a recent trip up there, I noticed that everyone was riding around to Dreamchasers 2. Some even said, "If you're from Philly and you're not riding for Meek, you're just a hater."
That's how it goes, man. I just tweeted that last night, like, "If you say you got a problem with me, you might just be going crazy, 'cause I ain't doing nothing but out here getting this money man and taking care of my family."
How is it to go back home as Maybach Music Group Meek?
I'm comfortable there. I don't really have no problem with nobody or nothing like that. You know how some people consider some to be shitting on people? I ain't never shit on nobody, you know what I'm saying? And they treat me good, nah mean? When you're comfortable, you can always go back somewhere and walk down the street and drive anywhere.
So Philly rides for Meek Mill but which Philly up-and-comers does Meek Mill ride for?
I listen to Ape Gang, Young Savage, Young Sam, Young Floc. Dizzle, she's young, a 16-year-old girl, she's a poetic type rapper, she's hot. There are a lot, man. I don't wanna forget nobody name, 'cause you know youngins be needing those looks. Lee Mazin is looking like she's coming up real fast. She's on the radio [Power 99] now, got the crazy Philly flow.
You know, when we all coming up, we all have that crazy Philly flow, that bouncy flow. I listen to whoever man and I won't hesitate to give them all verses, even though where I'm at... 'Cause I know when I was in their space, I couldn't really get any rappers who were signed and popping to give me no verses so I treat them like that. As long as they're grinding and they're working, they can get a verse from me.