Meek Mill Explains How Nipsey Hussle Taught Him To Stay Away From The Hood (Video)
Meek Mill and Charlamagne Tha God recently sat down in the Bahamas for an in-depth, unfiltered, no-holds-barred conversation. While Meek admits that he often shuns interviews (and vehemently dislikes wearing recording devices on his person), he gives C.T.G. a revealing look at his career, sobriety from pills, and maturity.
After discussing JAY-Z’s mentorship, police brutality, and how extensive his opioid addiction became behind the scenes, Meek discusses his friend, collaborator, and Atlantic Records label-mate, Nipsey Hussle. The two MCs from different coasts worked together on several occasions, including a collaborative project that Meek says was 20-30% completed. Meek honored Nipsey following his death and now wears a chain immortalizing him and his other fallen soldier, onetime Dreamchasers artist Lil Snupe.
“Let me ask you about Nipsey, man,” Charlamagne says at the 59:00 mark, after discussing why Meek Mill refuses to cooperate with law enforcement. “We’ve seen people from the hood turn on their own people who are trying to do better. Do you think it is possible to be devoted to the hood without putting yourself in danger?”
With his leg on the leather chair arm, Meek responds, “It depends what type of hood. Where I come from, our murder rate is 365 people a day. There’s 365 Black people getting murdered around here every day. If you’re a rapper, it brings attention to you. It brings more attention to you in those type of [situations]…especially being a famous figure and comin’ back down that low, where you have some people that are lowlives on a solo level—that, if you’re that high up, you can’t even come into contact with ’em, because you’re gonna have to kill ’em, or they’re gonna kill you, or you’re gonna end up goin’ to jail.”
He continues, “It’s just tricky. If I go to my neighborhood right now, you got some dudes that’s just [full] of so much self-hate in ’em that they’re gonna try me, and I don’t play with ni**as like that.” He continues, “I don’t play with bullies. I don’t know if y’all been following me my whole [career, but] when I lay down at night, and I see people trying to bully [others], that sh*t pop up in my mind like, ‘He won’t do that to me.’ like, I’ve always been that type. So when I’m comin’ back to the hood, and I’m makin’ millions and actually changin’ my mind-frame, [there] is something always in the back of my head that wants to take on them type guys. And that sh*t’ll be my downfall. So the best thing for me to do is to stay [away].” Meek has championed those at the bottom, whether in or out of prison. He has donated millions to Pennsylvania public schools alongside Philadelphia 76ers partner Michael Rubin. He also teamed up with Puma to donate 500 school bags to his old elementary school, as well as matched Colin Kaepernick’s $10,000 donation to Philadelphia’s Youth Service Inc.
For an artist who used to prominently return to his roots in North Philadelphia as well as South Philadelphia, Nipsey’s March 31 murder has reshaped that thinking. “Me and Nipsey got different mind-frames. I think we was alike in certain ways, but we got two totally different mind-frames. Me, you ain’t never see me back in the hood without a pistol around, close—and I’m talking about in a legal way.” He points to innocent children dying in Philadelphia every single day. “The police got on bulletproof vests and guns, so why should I come back with all these millions, trying to help lift sh*t up [where] it’s all dangerous. Naw. If you gonna play that. I got bulletproof trucks and everything. I believe that the hood will kill you. I believe that.
After discussing the project they were working on, he elaborates, “[Nipsey Hussle] impacted me to make a change from sh*t like [what negatively goes on in the hood]. No young kings should be gunned down in the hood. He’s a legend just for that. You made it out, and you got gunned down by a lowlife. You a legend; you showed kids that you can make it out, and someone [from] where you come from will pull you back and take your life. I guarantee you that Nipsey probably touched hundreds of millions of children from the ghetto. They know deep down that they will have their life took if they try to pursue their dreams [while trying] to stay in the hood. Just that message alone.”
That message reached Meek Mill. “Nipsey made me fall back from the hood. If they try’na kill us and do sh*t to us that bad, [then why go]. That’s how they doin’ us. You see these rappers, they’re gettin’ shot, killed. I’ma carry it that way. I’ma come bulletproof; I’ma come protected everywhere I can. But if I gotta do all that, another solution is to just [move away] from that sh*t.” He continues, “Some of us have survivor’s remorse when we make it out from those group of people. He probably ain’t wanna leave those people. He had to die there to send his message, and really get his message [and] life calling across. I don’t know what it is! I don’t never think he had to die! I think that was a mistake on all levels, but he might’ve felt that. ‘I ain’t leavin’ my hood; I’ma lift my sh*t up.’ And that was his calling. That’s why he’s a legend. Just that alone. You don’t have ni**as that’s gonna stay in they neighborhood knowin’ it’s dangerous, knowin’ you might be killed nine times out of 10… he impacted me; he let me know I could die. He let me know I could change any law for [people that look like me], you could give away a million dollars—a billion dollars—you still might get smoked by somebody that look like you over some bullsh*t. He taught me that. So he taught me how to move better, to keep on being a legend, and inspiring me to be successful and make moves better, that’s just enough—in my book, personally.”
Meek opens up further. “Anybody that can come from poverty to inspire people is a legend. Me, I’m a superhero.” He adds, “I’m a legend to [my nieces and nephews]; I’m a legend to my mom. Nobody never really went to college; nobody really made millions and sh*t like that [before]. This sh*t is legendary, comin’ from poverty.” He adds, “Our mind-frame, where we come from, we was taught to discredit each other—I’m guilty of the same thing, not blaming anybody or anything. I was the same, [saying], ‘He ain’t no real ni**a!’ ‘He ain’t ’bout it.’ I used to talk a certain [way]. And I still do sometimes, I just don’t promote it. Just that alone. Nipsey inspired me to stay out the hood, and not lose my life in the hood, and not be trying to be no ‘real n**as’ and making decisions [for] ego to impress some sh*t that’s not even real. That whole mentality needs to be updated. They need to update the street rule-book or some sh*t like that, ’cause nobody really gon’ survive. You’re gonna have a lot of real, smart kings dying over dumb-ass sh*t because the rule-book ain’t get updated to the times.” Whereas artists like JAY-Z, T.I., Jay Rock, Nas, and others have made pilgrimages back to the places that raised them, Meek Mill says Nipsey Hussle’s death changed things.
Charlamagne says, “That’s why you’re here for.” Meek points to the camera. “That’s why we’re doing this here interview right now. I don’t give a f*ck who don’t like [the mind-frame I have]. You know why I changed? Ni**as changed. When I was broke, nobody used to ask me for money. Now they ask me for money. They’ll be like, ‘You’ve changed.’ I [respond], ‘No. You never used to ask me for money. So technically, you changed. I never was the guy people called when somebody died. Now somebody [needs funeral expenses or] somebody gotta go to college. Nine times outta 10, in my world, they’re gonna call me. It was never like that. No. The situation changed; I ain’t change. So I had to change and grow and be different. You stay the same, what the f*ck I’ma do? Bring a helicopter through the hood.” He adds, “I’m supposed to inspire the kids that’s [deeply] buried in poverty. I’m on some sh*t. I got smart. I went to jail and started reading books, manned up [because] my whole life flashed before my eyes.” He says that he had to pay $100,000 a month in expenses while he was locked up, with a million dollars in his bank. “I ain’t panic; I ain’t complain. My career would’ve been over [had I served] two years at that point. I could’ve got killed [in prison]; I’m in there with lifers and sh*t. My life [was] flashing before my eyes. So when I came home, I had to smarten up.”
Meek Mill’s most recent album, 2018’s Championships, is nominated for “Best Rap Album” at next year’s Grammy Awards. At the top of the interview, Meek says that after 10 years of feeling like an underdog in the music business, the accolade is not hugely significant.