Meek Mill, “You Wouldn’t Understand” (Originally Published October/November 2012)

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A star on the rise, Meek Mill has bigger things to think about than nightclub scuffles with R&B singers.

Written By Thomas Golianopoulos
Images By Jimmy Fontaine

During the early morning hours of June 12, Meek Mill left the Bronx strip joint Sin City and headed downtown to the Manhattan Nightclub W.i.P. Drake and Chris Brown were also at the ritzy venue. Drake and Meek Mill are rumored paramours of Rihanna. Chris Brown dated the singer years earlier; he was also convicted of assaulting her. Things quickly got out of hand at W.i.P. Entourages clashed, bottles were thrown and NBA All-Star Tony Parker nearly lost an eye in the ensuing melee. Violence! Rap! Sex! It was a moment made in New York City tabloid heaven.

Barely 36 hours later, Meek Mill, 25, the least famous member of the love quadrangle, sits in a conference room in Roc Nation’s (his management) Times Square offices, bewildered by the sudden attention. “This shit right here is new,” he says. Meek enunciates every syllable in his music, but here, he mumbles and speaks so rapidly that he occasionally trips over his words. “I guess that’s the press just catching on to me because I’m being bigger and getting hotter. It’s some new shit. I was just there,” he says of W.i.P. “I been to a lot of parties where people get shot inside the building. That’s little shit. Being as though maybe it’s Chris Brown, Drake and me, it gets turned into big shit.”

Meek looks out the floor-to-ceiling windows toward downtown Manhattan, the Statue of Liberty in the distance. He wears a striped tank top and shorts. He claims that the chain around his neck cost $50,000 and that the diamond Rolex on his wrist is worth $100,000. He says that he is a millionaire.

Meek denies throwing a bottle that night, as some tabloid reports stated, and says he spoke to Chris Brown immediately following the incident. This is all happening during the most crucial time of Meek’s young career. In the past 18 months, he’s gone from a regional up-and-comer to XXL Freshman and now is a Maybach Music Group signee and the most exciting new rapper in hip-hop. It’s been a meteoric rise. Dreamchasers 2, his latest hit mixtape hosted by DJ Drama, has been downloaded more than six million times since its April release; Maybach Music Group’s Self Made, Vol. 2, on which Meek gets a large spotlight, has sold more than 220,000 copies since its own in June; his official debut album, Dreams And Nightmares, is due this fall.

The W.i.P. incident might have boosted Meek’s Q Score, but it’s troubling. Brushes with the law derailed his career four years ago. He’s familiar with the consequences of violence. He’s from North Philadelphia. His father was murdered in South Philly. He’s not an R&B singer famous for pummeling a female. And he’s not a former child actor from a rich enclave in Toronto. Meek Mill is not a tourist. “It’s crazy to me,” he says. “I been in the hood. If they been had the news on me like this, I would be involved with everything—so they would say. I would be the cause. I’m from Philly. I be at clubs every night. People get killed every night. It’s usual.”