Meek Mill has been on probation his entire adult life. Every time he wants to leave his home state of Pennsylvania, he has to obtain permission. So when the Philadelphia 76ers beat the Raptors in Toronto during Game 3 of the NBA playoffs, Meek could not sit near Drake (who pleaded on Instagram) and watch the game live. Even after obtaining approval from his probation officer, Meek’s travel restriction remained in place. Close friend and 76er’s co-owner Michael Rubin questioned in a post, “Judge Genece Brinkley – I know you have a vendetta against Meek Mill and are obsessed with trying to control every aspect of his life, but did you really NOT approve him to go to rep the sixers in Toronto for the game?”
Despite incidents like these, Meek Mill who turns 32 today, has managed to thrive. In between travel restrictions and a judge who has impeded his ability to perform, Meek has carved out a wildly successful career as an artist, entrepreneur, and advocate. The data visualization below breaks down six major ways the Championships artist has stayed winning regardless of ongoing legal challenges.
Each ring in the diagram represents Meek Mill’s cultural impact since leaving prison last year. It does not include major career highlights prior to April 2018 or personal challenges the Philly native has experienced (outside his legal case), like the death of his cousin due to gun violence or his father being murdered. To qualify as a career highlight, each “win” was decided using search filters and keyword analytics. For example, Meek Mill’s partnership with Puma and the Clyde Court #Reform sneakers garnered 12,500 story results via Google News. Alternatively, Mill’s push for the passing of House Bill 1925 received 201,000 story results. Both actions reflect how Meek Mill has used his platform to shed light on outdated legislation and the need for criminal justice reform.
There are an estimated 4.5 million Americans on probation or parole. These are people who might get incarcerated over minor technical violations or misdemeanors like unpaid traffic tickets. It’s safe to assume that the majority of these individuals lack the same type of resources or networks Meek Mill has access to. And that is exactly why his cultural impact extends beyond music or any other creative endeavor. In an interview with The Breakfast Club, Meek pointed out how certain laws can work against those genuinely looking for a second chance or fresh start. “There’s a lot of the people on bail—with $100 bails, people on probation for long periods of time that don’t need to be on probation for 15 years for crimes that don’t even hold that much time. So we’re just working hard and trying to make change.” According to the latest annual report, Philadelphia’s Courts have made $326.5 million in revenue. Of that amount, $41.3 million represent bail fees.
Technically, Meek Mill remains on probation until 2023. He was released from prison last year after it was proven that the officer who initially arrested Meek (and acted as a witness in court) could not be considered credible. Through the REFORM Alliance, (the organization Meek Mill co-founded alongside Michael Rubin, Jay-Z, Robert Kraft, and other key business leaders), he has pledged to help one million people on probation or parole. On the Championships track, “What’s Free?” featuring Jay-Z and Rick Ross, (which samples the Notorious B.I.G. classic “What’s Beef?”) Meek Mill spits, “Tryna fix the system and the way that they designed it. I think they want me silenced… Oh, say you can see, I don’t feel like I’m free.” For Robert Rihmeek Williams, born the same day the Civil Rights Act of 1960 was signed into law, winning is always nice. However, the ultimate goal is and always has been freedom.