Championships: Meek Mill's Return
After serving nearly 5 months in jail, Meek Mill has solidified his comeback with his newest album, Championships. The Philly rapper celebrates his release from jail and returning to a life of success and money, but not without special commentary on the prison system that has plagued the black community for so long. Meek’s strongest verses in the album explore the deeper themes of life in a system designed to keep black men behind bars, proving the rapper has the skill to switch up his flow and tackle a variety of beats and topics.
In this album, we see Meek Mill collaborating with some surprising names. “Uptown Vibes” features Fabolous and Spanish trap star Anuel AA, and while the song isn’t the strongest on the album, it’s certainly interesting to hear the Philly rapper against a heavily Spanish-influenced beat.
New players in the industry Ella Mai and Melii prove themselves on their respective tracks, “24/7” and “With the Sh*ts”. Mai’s melodic, smooth voice balances out Meek’s rough storytelling against a Beyonce sample, while Melii matches his energy with impressive, racy bars in both English and Spanish.
“Championships” also gives us Meek’s first official collab with Cardi B, arguably the hottest female artist out right now. “On Me” is sharp and hard, where both rappers trade bars on their rags to riches story. The strong beat and amazing flow might just give Cardi and Meek another hit under their belt.
Besides his regular drug and party-focused songs, we see a shift in Meek’s voice in songs like “Trauma” and “What’s Free”. Rather than bragging about being a rich celebrity, Meek shares the disappointment and hurt that followed him after his five-year sentencing. Brutally honest, Meek’s experience is felt, not just heard, in verses like “My momma used to pray that she’d see me in Yale/it’s fucked up she gotta see me in jail” and “I went from selling out arenas, now sh*t, I’m on sale”.
He also addresses the youth’s obsession with violence and drugs in “Championships”, a retelling of growing up in the hood and the system. The song not only celebrates him beating the obstacles racism and poverty placed in his way, but also a warning to a younger generation seeking a similar fate.
“All the young’uns in my hood popping percs now/Gettin’ high to get by, it’s getting worse now/You gotta tell them put them guns and the percs down”
“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.”
Not without controversy, “What’s Free” also features Jay-Z’s highly controversial take on his relationship with Kanye West, as HOV spits “No red hat, don’t Michael and Prince me and Ye/ They separate you when you got Michael and Prince’s DNA/ I ain’t one of those house n***as you bought/ My house like a resort, my house bigger than yours/ My spo- come on, man/ My route better of course.”
The verse garnered so much attention, Jay-Z had to clarify on his Twitter that this was never a competition or comparison between him and Kanye. Rather, the verse was to clarify that he never wants to be pit against his ‘brother’, despite differences in beliefs. In fact, the digs at the house and spouse are more of a dig at President Donald Trump- hence the red hat reference. Turns out Jay-Z hates Trump and his need to pit the rappers against each other.
Also a surprise on this album? “Going Bad” featuring Drake. The final burial of the infamous 2015/2016 beef between the two rappers, “Going Bad” gives listeners a return to their “R.I.C.O.” flow, proving once again just how impressive this duo sounds together.
All in all, Championships marks the return of Meek Mill in rap, showcasing his growth as an artist and perhaps an activist.
You can check out the album on Apple Music and Spotify.