Over the last year, Meek Mill’s highly publicized battle with the criminal justice system has been supported by his fans and the hip-hop community alike as much as they’ve celebrated his new music. Through the triumphs and tribulations, the Philadelphia rapper has become the face of freedom and prison reform. Now, Meek Mill brings his story to XXL with two special covers for the fall 2018 issue.

Meek, 31, writes a letter to his younger self for his XXL magazine cover story, heading back to 2006, when the MC was 19 years old and before his legal trouble began. Perseverance, race in America and recognizing his own power are all part of his missive. Meek celebrates career milestones as well as traces his fight with the legal system during a promising career and offers advice to a younger version of himself.

"My question to you, Meek, is: Are you willing to travel those rocky roads towards your throne? Most importantly: Are you sure you want this responsibility?" he writes. "Like our old heads used to say, 'Heavy is the head that wears the crown.' It’s free to dream but nothing is more expensive than achieving them. I repeat: Nothing is more expensive than achieving your dreams. Trust, you will get yours. You will set the rap game on fire. What if I told you that you will record with Mariah Carey? Or that you’ll buy a Ferrari after coppin’ the Rolls-Royce? That fly shit is cool but you wanna know what tops it all? Mom never having to worry about money again because you believed in yourself. The countless times she risked it all to feed you and Nasheema won’t be in vain. But I can’t stress enough how much it costs to be a young leader. Costs even more to be a young Black leader."

"I’ll be honest—same as African-Americans in this country—things are about to get both easier and more difficult for you," Meek continues. "Over the next decade, you and your people will make major moves—you, professionally and Black people, politically. We’ll all begin to realize that our culture is our most valuable product. Unfortunately, on the streets, not much will change. In 2018, Black lives won’t matter much more than they do in 2006. You saw what happened last year with Hurricane Katrina. You saw how the administration didn’t care whether we drowned or ended up homeless. We could have a Black president and they’d still disrespect them like they were just another nigga. And just like it will cost you to claim your power, the same goes for our race. For upping our stock in this country, we will pay like a muthafucka."

The fall 2018 issue also has plenty of other interviews with hip-hop's best and brightest stars. "Lucid Dreams" rapper Juice Wrld proves he's no overnight success, Mozzy finds his footing while rising to the top, Bhad Bhabie looks for longevity in the game, 6lack breaks down his lyrics, Bas waves the flag for his Dreamville Records team, Gunna's drip moves far past his clothes, Murda Beatz shines as rap's go-to producer and more with Lil Durk, City Girls, Rico Nasty, Swizz Beatz, Taz Taylor, DRAM, D.A. Doman, Salt-N-Pepa, boxer Errol Spence Jr. and singer Ari Lennox.

There's also a deep dive into mental health as rappers are self-medicating and seeking therapy more openly than ever before, celebrities reflect on Mac Miller's impact in the wake of his death and a wider look at the comparisons between the late XXXTentacion and Tupac Shakur.

The fall issue of XXL is on newsstands everywhere Oct. 16.


See Photos of Meek Mill for XXL Magazine's Fall 2018 Cover Story