Today, May 6, is the 31st birthday of Philly born rapper and professional "dream chaser" Meek Mill.

Robert Rahmeek Williams, otherwise known as Meek Mill, started rapping from the age of 16 on the streets of his native Philadelphia. Thanks to a string of fire mixtapes beginning in 2008 and aptly titled Flamers, Meek caught the attention of hip-hop vets like T.I. and Charlie Mack. Meek originally accepted a deal with T.I.'s label, Grand Hustle Records, but suffered a career setback when he was arrested and convicted of drug dealing and gun possession in 2008. Fortunately, Meek bounced back and found a new home with Rick Ross's Maybach Music Group in 2011 just as he was selected for the 2011 XXL Freshmen roster alongside Kendrick Lamar, YG, Mac Miller and more.

Fueled by massive singles like "Ima Boss" and "Tupac Back," Meek dropped his debut album under MMG, Dreams and Nightmares, in 2012. Thanks to his hustler ambitions and motivators around him, Meek also started a record label imprint called Dream Chasers in 2012.

Through legal troubles, jail stints and rumors, Meek Mill has fought to stay positive and motivate other rappers from his hometown to do the same. Meek talks about such obstacles, along with his relationship with Nicki Minaj, in the Spring 2015 XXL cover story. Meek dropped his sophomore album, Dreams Worth More Than Money in the summer of 2015 and was riding high when he notoriously started a Twitter beef with Toronto rapper and Nicki's YMCMB label mate Drake. Drake subsequently clapped back at Meek with the famous diss track "Back to Back" and Meek didn't deliver in his returning diss. In October 2016, Meek came back strong with his DC4 mixtape.

In early 2017, is was confirmed that Nicki and Meek had officially broken up. At the time Meek didn't appear to be sweating the split too much, as he was spotted with a new lady in Dubai months later. Simply put, Meek Milly was living the good life. Unfortunately, those bits of fun weren't to last.

On Aug. 17, 2017, less than a month after he dropped off his critically acclaimed Wins & Losses album, Meek was arrested for popping a wheelie on his dirt bike in the streets of New York City. While that wouldn't have been a huge deal in a vacuum, for Meek, who'd been on probation since being arrested for a guns and drug charge back in 2008, it would have some very significant consequences down the road.

Although Meek dodged felony charges and had his N-Y reckless driving charge set to be wiped from his record if he could avoid legal trouble for six months, the damage had already been done. On Nov. 6, 2017, a judge sentenced Meek to two-to-four years in jail for violating his probation. On March 15th of that year, he was hit with an assault charge after being involved in a scuffle at the St. Louis International Airport. Then, of course, there was his reckless driving charge in NYC. Both charges were dropped, but the judge ruled that his being arrested in both instances meant that he'd violated the terms of his probation.

While Meek was once again forced into a jail cell, he continued battling for his freedom from behind bars. Soon after his sentencing, Meek's lawyer claimed that the rapper's sentencing judge, Genece Brinkley, had conducted herself inappropriately during her dealings with Meek's case. A short time later, it was revealed that the FBI was investigating Brinkley for a possible misuse of power. That was just the beginning, too.

In the months that followed, Meek's court case became a huge talking point for the perceived ills of mass incarceration, specifically as it relates to young African American men. Meek and many others pointed to the fact that his then-current legal situation stemmed from a case he caught almost a decade ago.

In the end, rallies were held, op-eds written and speeches given, and, after Meek's arresting officer was found on a list of corrupt police officials, Philadelphia's District Attorney reported that Meek's case could be overturned. About a month later, the DA recommended that Meek get released. On April 24, a Supreme Court judge decided to release Meek from jail.

Speaking with NBC just about a week and a half before his release, Meek explained that he believed he'd been chosen to help others in his predicament. "I think God delivered me a job to help people, helping minorities that come from these situations like myself," he said explained at the time.

He continued, "I say don't show me no pity because this is my life. This is what I've been going through and I think God put me in this position to be able to do a show with Lester Holt and open up eyes for other young Black men." Salute.

Happy Birthday, Meek Mill!

See Photos of Meek Mill's Different Looks Over the Years

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