The cover of Meek Mill’s debut album from 2012, Dreams & Nightmares, displays a handcuffed person with a Rolex. Until lately, the image showed Meek’s own condition: in court, he stayed below the watchful eye of a wrecked probation system; in public, he surfaced as a doubtful rap star. Just as Meek Mill was getting close to his American Dream, the US went and meddled.
Launched earlier this month, the five-part Free Meek documentary by Amazon traces how the rapper turned out to be a celebrity in the movement for criminal justice case. The series is a touching biography, a great true-crime TV, and an influential call to action. Via re-enactments of go-through testimony, major moments from 12 years of probation hearings of Meek begin to turn productive. Those near to him along with different investigators and attorneys offer a strong narrative arc to the series.
Free Meek begins with 2007 arrest of Meek—after he was taken into custody by the drug task force of Philadelphia police department during a violent raid (when coming out of a stash house where his cousins worked)—and the subsequent weapon and drug charges he faced, majorly on the basis of on the word of arresting officer. Then arrives the never-concluding cycle of penalty: 5 Years on parole and an initial prison sentence of 11–23 months, a 5-month sentence (and extra parole time) in 2014 over suspected parole breaches, and another 2–4-year sentence in 2017—all supervised by a judge that, for almost the whole of Meek’s adult life, has made an attempt to supervise his whereabouts in methods that cross the line.
But Meek’s tale is actually two tales playing out simultaneously: his ascent from battle-rapping hungry corner boy to street rap chart-topping savant, and his subsumption more into the system of criminal justice. To that side, Free Meek is a discourse on how rap saved Meek from US inequity 2 times, but not without fundamentally landing him back in jails in between. The doc asks how a teenager escaped violence and poverty to make a better life for himself still lands in jail by what proof recommends is an illegal conviction. Even with billionaire sports team owners financially supporting Meek and the District Attorney’s office suggesting a new testimony, he was still entrapped. And if he cannot escape, the series recommends, what odd does anybody else have?
This specific story has a happy concluding, at least currently. The previous month, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned 2017 probation violation ruling by Judge Brinkley and 2008 conviction of Meek; he is getting a new testimony on all accusations. Meek collaborated with Drake—their Going Bad was the lead single from Championships (Meek’s comeback album) in 2018. But the war is still on and there is a long way to go. Eventually, Free Meek is a call to arms for those still to come and a tribute to a well-fought war.