Photo: @MeekMill Instagram
What’s good CeeSoDope readers?
So Meek Mill’s new album Championships is the latest music talk in the world of hip-hop. The Philly rapper dropped his new heat November 30, with features from Jay-Z, Drake, Rick Ross, Cardi B, and much more.
According to Nielsen Music, Championships earned 229,000 equivalent album units in the week ending Dec. 6. Of that total, 42,000 were in traditional album sales. This is a massive comeback for the MC after his beef with Drake, serving time at the State Correctional Institution in Chester, Pennsylvania, and his public break-up with fellow MC Nicki Minaj.
Despite those L’s, Meek came out of jail with a new attitude to show everyone that he is indeed a “champion.” Using his story to teach others, Meek Mill has been vocal about police reform and even patched up his issues with Drake.
With the release of Championships and his effort to speak up about social issues pertaining to the Black community, I feel Meek Mill has redeemed himself tremendously.
Below are my top 5 tracks from Championships. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Meek Mill’s project is CeeSoDope approved!
“Trauma” symbolizes Meek’s personal story of being locked up. For those who don’t know, in March 2017, the MC was arrested after being involved in a fight at St. Louis Airport. He was arrested again in New York for “reckless endangerment” for popping wheelies on his dirt bike and not wearing a helmet.
“Trauma,” tells his story of his mother having to see him in jail and feeling like the judge who sentenced him didn’t want to see him do well in life.
-It’s fucked up she gotta see me in jail,
And even worst, my judge black don’t wanna see me do well
It’s either that or black people for sale
Gave me two to four years like, Fuck your life, meet me in hell.
Meek also mentions self-hate. He raps about the painful truths of the street life on “Trauma.” Meek discusses Black men on the streets trapping to survive, getting shot, and daughter’s engaging in sexual activities. The MC sends a warning to parents telling them not to allow the streets to swallow the lives of their children.
-Oh, God, don’t let them streets get a hold of ’em
Your daughter fuckin’ now, it’s gon be a cold summer
Your son trapping, and your homie giving O’s to him
And if he fucks that paper up, he puttin’ holes through him.
There is no sugar-coating on this record. Just the cold hard truth about the struggles people of color face on a daily basis; mothers are on drugs, fathers are in jail, young Black men using drugs to cover up their pain, and the harsh truth of police brutality.
-Ain’t no PTSDs, them drugs keep it at ease
They shot that boy 20 times when they could’ve told him just freeze.
-When them drugs got a hold of your mama
And the judge got a hold on your father
The second verse was my favorite verse from Meek Mill on “Trauma.” In this verse, he goes in-depth on Colin Kaepernick and how so many people were against him for taking a knee during the national anthem. Kaepernick’s protest was due to people of color continuously being oppressed in this country. His bold and silent protest created a lot of noise, and for a while, there weren’t many people backing him up.
-They told Kaep’ stand up if you wanna play for a team
And all his teammates ain’t saying a thing (Stay woke)
But it’s like Meek said, if you don’t stand or, in Kaepernick’s case, kneel for something, you’ll fall for anything.
The analyzation of what the system does to people for speaking out is apparent in today’s society. Meek describes how back in the day if you fought against racism and oppression you would’ve been killed, but now they just take away your deal.
-And in the ’60s, if you kneeled, you’d prolly be killed
But they don’t kill you now; they just take you out of your deal
It’s evident that trauma is real in Black communities and I applaud Meek’s social awareness.
No matter what people of color have to fight through in the streets and his legal battles, Meek Mill wants the system and the world to know that he “won’t fail.”
2) “What’s Free?” feat. Jay-Z & Rick Ross
It’s been a lot of talk about this record on social media, and I can see why. “What’s Free?” featuring Hov (Jay-Z) & Rick Ross is a break down of the system that has been put into place for minorities. Let’s keep it a hundred; there is systematic racism.
Like the song title, Meek starts off his verse with the question, “what’s free?”
-Free is when nobody else could tell us what to be
Free is when the TV ain’t controllin’ what we see.
If you haven’t guessed it, the song is a sample of the late Notorious B.I.G.’s “What’s Beef?”
Now, as much as I love Rick Ross, I feel like Jay-Z on this record overshadowed him, but I mean, come on, he’s Jay-Z. However, Rozay did have a few dope lines, and my favorite was “God is the greatest, but Satan been on his shit.” Ain’t that the truth.
After Rick Ross wrapped up his verse, Meek came back in with the chorus and his verse. I liked how he started his verse highlighting that though he has grown as an artist and as a man, people still try to knock him off.
The beautiful thing about this record is that Meek Mill addresses the things that artists have done to give back even though rappers are often misjudged as a negative influence. He says that while their mistakes are highlighted, their good deeds need to be too.
-Tell him how we fundin’ all these kids to go to college
Tell him how we ceasin’ all these wars, stoppin’ violence
Tryna fix the system and the way that they designed it
I think they want me silenced (Shush)
In “What’s Free?” Meek retakes the opportunity to address his court case. During his stint in jail, the MC speaks on how the judge turned him into a slave.
-Locked down in my cell, shackled from ankle to feet
Judge bangin’ that gavel, turned me to slave from a king
Another day in the bing, I gotta hang from a string
Just for poppin’ a wheelie
Ok, so now let’s get into this Jay-Z verse. Yes, this shit was hard. Jay-Z starts his verse off with a history lesson; America is the land of the free, but Blacks are enslaved. Reminding everyone that we, Black people, were once considered three-fifths of a man in this country.
Despite the ugly history, Hov let it be known that he is a businessman.
-I’m 50% of D’USSÉ, and it’s debt-free (Yeah)
100% of Ace of Spades, worth half a B (Uh)
Roc Nation, half of that, that’s my piece
Hunnid percent of TIDAL to bust it up with my Gs, uh
In other words, Jay makes money moves BIG time.
As his verse goes on, he mentions Black people being mistreated regardless of their celebrity status. His next several lines illustrate how he doesn’t wear “no red hat,” referring to President Donald Trump’s dad-hat bearing his “Make America Great Again” slogan, for those who don’t know. Hov makes it clear he ain’t no house nigga either.
-No red hat, don’t Michael and Prince me and Ye
They separate you when you got Michael and Prince’s DNA, uh
I ain’t one of these house n***as you bought
My house like a resort, my house bigger than yours
Let’s be clear; this was no diss record. The Michael Jackson and Prince reference is how the industry tries to pit two successful Black men against each other, just like they do him and Kanye West. It also shows how the industry made Jackson and Prince slaves to the construct because they didn’t own their own lives.
And while some folks like to talk a lot about music sales, according to Jay-Z, that doesn’t matter because he “ain’t got a billion streams, but a billion dollars.”
Now here’s where everyone really got talking; the New York Native (Brooklyn to be exact) called out Billboard.
-We was praisin’ Billboard, but we were young
Now I look at Billboard like, “Is you dumb?”
I had to do some research as to why Jay-Z took shots at Billboard, and according to VIBE, Jay’s Magna Carta Holy Grail sits at a low ranking compared to other projects. However, it changed how the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) determined the eligibility of platinum and gold plaques.
Now, album sales sold digitally will become eligible on the release date “while sales of albums in physical format will still become eligible for certification 30 days after the release date,” according to Liz Kennedy who is the director of RIAA’s Gold & Platinum Program.
In 2013, the album went platinum due to Mr. Carter’s partnership with Samsung for the MCHG’s release, but Billboard didn’t count the sales.
Had they count the sales, it would’ve given Jay another #1 project, and there you have it.
Jay-Z raps up the song letting it be known that while he’s married to the biggest superstar in the world, Beyoncé, and does tons of business, he has people riding for him for FREE.
-You lay a hand on Hov, my shooter shoot for free
I promise World War Three
Send a order through a hands-free
Kill you in 24 hours or shorter; you can’t ignore the hand speed
This record is a no-brainer. I mean the album is titled Championships. Can we just talk about this hard beat for a second? Being from Atlanta where some of the hottest producers reside, I pay attention to an artist’s beats.
Produced by Dario Productions, the jazz horns on this record is crazy and is great for those looking for motivation.
Meek Mill pours his struggle of trials to triumph on this record. While he’s celebrating his success now, Meek has seen some of his young homies go through some bad times. The MC realizes that they’re getting high while their situations are getting worse.
-All the young’uns in my hood popping percs now
Gettin’ high to get by, it’s gettin’ worse now
You gotta tell ’em put them guns and them percs down
Them new jails got ten yards in ’em, and that’s your first down, uh
Meek goes on to say that he ain’t here to preach, but I beg to differ. This is the Gospel truth that the young folks need to hear. He’s speaking out about drug use being used to cover up mental and emotional issues. As he said, Meek had to say something because he’s the one with the reach.
-I just had to say somethin’ ’cause I’m the one with the reach
Along with drug use, Meek recognizes the lack of fathers in Black homes being the cause of why people learn from the streets. In his case, he went from an honor roll student and then transitioned into a beast.
Selling drugs is something that a lot of Black males turn to when they’re struggling to survive and have a family to help take care of. Meek describes his first time seeing blood. A young man was fresh as hell but had blood on his sneaks. All the while, his mother was crying, and it affected the MC.
-The first time I seen a nigga get some blood on his sneaks
He had on Air Max 93s but was slumped in the street
His mama cryin’ that did somethin’ to me, oh Lord
As Meek Mill continues on the record, he relives past mistakes such as carrying a gun trying to ride for his homies knowing that it will land him in prison and hurt his mother. From hearing these lyrics, those he rode for couldn’t help him while he was locked up and the only one he could depend on was his mother.
-Why you wanna be a shooter?
Mama told me not to do it, but I did it
Now I’m locked up in a prison
Callin’ mama like “I shouldn’t have did it…”
-Ridin’ for these niggas like that shit ain’t hurt my mom or somethin’
Only one gon’ get me commissary or even buy me somethin’
When it all fall down
I can’t call y’all now
Even if I hit your phone
That won’t get me home
Seen so many different times, these niggas did me wrong
Shit, that’s the reason that I did this song
In the second verse, Meek Mill illustrates how his innocence was lost in the streets; as a kid, he and his friends played on the steps, and when they got older, they started flirting with death.
-Shit, we was kids used to play on the step
A couple years later we flirtin’ with the angel of death
I was eleven years old; I got my hands on the TEC
When I first touched it that shit gave me a rush
My homie’s dying I’m like “Maybe we next”
The harsh reality is that when you tangle in that lifestyle, death can come knocking at any age and when you are six feet under, the people you were sticking your neck out there for can’t save you.
-I know a young’un that got murked ain’t get to drive no Wraith
But he in the hearse on the way to church
I guess it’s all a part of the game though. Those who have to live that lifestyle are just trying to maintain and stay alive. It’s hard to stay on the right track if you’re living in an area where gangs are on every corner, schools are closed, and jails are open.
Despite the struggle, Meek Mill beat the streets, poverty, and everything else that keeps a Black man down.
4) “Respect The Game”
Speaking of the game, let’s get into my 4th favorite track from the album, “Respect The Game.” I think anybody who wants to be in the music industry needs to listen to this record to learn the rules of the game.
Ok, so Meek Mill hopped out the gate to address the flexors.
-Jumpin’ out the Rolls truck with the temp tag
I cackled so hard at that line because that’s facts.
Meek Mill has had his fair share of having life humble him. On the track, he raps about having it all and then not being able to get it back.
-I knew a nigga had it all, went to the B, ain’t get it back
That’s why I’m humble as ever, and I rumble whatever…
Remember I was down bad, I’m talkin’ under the cellar
Now the Rolls Royces come with umbrellas
For the pain that he’s been through, Meek Mill deserves to shine and, of course, let the little homies coming up in the game know the rules.
-Rule number one, never count your homie pockets thinkin’ you deserve it
Rule number two, never trust a bitch that’ll fuck you for some purses
Rule number three, save you some of that money, shit, you better stop splurgin’
‘Cause when it’s all said and done and you back at the bottom, they gon’ treat you like you worthless
Respect the game
In the second verse, Meek Mill raps about seeing people have it all and then lose it. He says that a couple of hundred thousand ain’t real money. That can quickly disappear with the significant expenses that come with being an artist. Now that’s not to say don’t have fun and live your life, but save some money so just in case shit hits the fan, you’ll have something to fall back on.
-That couple hundred thousand holdin’ you over
That ain’t real money
That’s bill money, buy a Rollie, get a wheel money
Catch a case, pay a lawyer, take a deal money
Now you tapped out and got no appeal money
While Meek is still a student in the game, he makes it clear he’s ahead of his class. It’s okay to feel like you’re that nigga, but don’t walk around with your head up your ass. Don’t front to impress those around you. Respect the game always.
-Student of the game, I’m just ahead of my class
I’m that nigga, but I never got my head up my ass…
And you won’t never catch me frontin’ ’cause I’m used to bein’ second to last
Respect the game
5) “Oodles O’ Noodles Babies”
Last, but not least, “Oodles O’ Noodles Babies” made it on my top five from Championships. Now don’t get me wrong, I rock with “What’s Free?,” but this song right here, I love it!
First of all, can we acknowledge the Mother’s Finest “Love Changes” sample on this track? I mean, when the beat dropped, I immediately fell in love. It just gave me a nostalgic feeling and for those who have never heard Mother’s Finest, take a quick listen.
Ok so let’s get into these verses.
-This shit right here for my Oodles o’ Noodles babies
His ma’ smoked the crack while she was pregnant so he can’t even help that he crazy
He goin’ to jail, it’s inevitable, forreal
Meek Mill starts the track off with an intro, and while that beautiful Mother’s Finest “Love Changes” sample is playing in the background, he raps about having no hope and hoping his mother ain’t out there doing dope.
Growing up, Meek wished his dad was still living, and for those growing up without a father, they could relate.
-I ain’t have nobody to give me no hope
I hope my momma ain’t doin’ no coke
I used to wish that my daddy was livin’
I had a dream that I seen him as a ghost
Not knowing how to deal with his hurt, Meek describes how he would cut up in school. Life was hard, and while he wanted his family to be at his games for support, everyone had to work.
-I used to act up when I went to school
Thought it was cool, but I really was hurt
Wanted my family to come to my games
My mama couldn’t make it ’cause she was at work
This brings back childhood memories when on the weekend I would be with my dad, and he had to pick up his football players so that they could play in the game. There was no one there to bring them. My father would pick them up, feed them, and then drop them off at home after the game.
Anyway, the track is relatable and personal. It shows a vulnerable side to Meek. I feel like when people listen to this record, it’s going to make them reminisce about their childhood. It reminded me when rapper Ahmad did “Back In The Day.”
Meek Mill takes a walk down memory lane of seeing his aunt in a casket, going to jail, and the death of his little cousin, which he witnessed seeing on a camera. I mean, the record is heartfelt and gets to the core of a lot of his pain.
-Killed my lil’ cousin, I’m like, “Damn it, man”
Had to see the footage on a camera, man
On the pavement, with his brains out
With the white sheet, he was laid out
Some of my other favorite lines are when Meek Mill speaks on wanting to ask Ye if seeing his cousin laid out on camera was a choice, alluding to the controversy surrounding Kanye’s statement earlier this year saying that black people are now choosing to be mental slaves.
-Wanna ask ‘Ye, “Is this a choice?”
It was like this when I came out
As the story goes on, Meek is vocal about the current state of society; the poor are getting poorer, and the rich are getting richer. Also, Black fathers are absent due to going back, and forth in jail and their sons grow up following in their footsteps.
-Man, this shit was designed just to eat us up
And my momma told me, “Nigga, keep it up
You gon’ end up in prison, just sweepin’ up”
Remember, nobody never believed in us
In the second verse, Meek Mill addresses the police as he has done on several tracks on the album. It’s no secret that there is police brutality. I mean, you hear it on the news, and now due to social media and technology, people are recording police encounters.
Meek makes it known that police brutality, among other social issues, is a part of the problem that is affecting the Black community.
-We ain’t never believed in the police; they was shootin’ us
What they gon’ do with us? Can’t call the cops yet
You might just get popped at
‘Cause they the ones shootin’ us
I hate to sound like a broken record, but Meek has had his back and forth with the law. On the record, Meek talks about being called a menace to society by the judge who sentenced him.
Also, the rapper brings awareness to teen pregnancy in the hood and how a vicious cycle of drug use, selling drugs, teen pregnancy, and Black men in jail continue.
-Whole hood goin’ crazy, babies havin’ babies
She was fourteen, actin’ like she eighty
Got pregnant by a nigga that was locked up in them cages
And the story goes on, if you make it, you amazing (Word up)
This record is definitely for them “Oodles O’ Noodles Babies.”
That’s all folks! That’s my top five from Championships. I give Meek Mill a 9 out of 10 on this project. It was a great balance of trap music, conscious rap, storytelling, dope production, great features, and his ability to be open about his life. It was maybe three or four records I wasn’t feeling as much, which earned him the 9 out of 10. Still, it’s a dope project.
S/O to Meek Mill. A true champion.