Dream Chaser’s Meek Mill has continued to make headlines the past few years after both his rap beef with Drake and the probation violation that landed him back in prison and in the middle of controversy. Things took a favorable turn after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned Meek Mill’s sentence. He emerged from prison in April as the new face of criminal justice reform. Meek took what he has been through and used it as fuel for his first full-length album since his release. Championships takes us back to the fire and passion found in his 2012 release Dreams and Nightmares yet brings a new sense of clarity and fluidity. The seventy minute long album is the most inspired of his releases as it tells the story of Meek, a struggle to be more than simply another statistic and product of his environment, his ascension to fame, and the blurred lines in between as he maneuvered through a system that continuously called for his downfall.
Championships brings awareness to the adversities and perceived injustices of the black community, as well as the use of the privatized prison system for modern day slavery with stand out songs including “Oodles and Noodles Babies,” “Trauma,” “What’s Free,” and “Respect the Game.” Meek Mill reveals his truths about the environment he grew up in as he reminisces on life experiences including having to watch the fatal shooting of his 21-year-old cousin back in 2016. Meek uses these life events to paint a portrait of what systematic oppression looks like on “Oodles and Noodles Babies” as he states “Poor get poorer and the rich get greedier/ lots of daddies goin’ back and forth out of jail/ lot of sons growin’ up and repeating them/ this the belly of the beast, you won’t make it out.” Meek Mill’s song “Trauma” highlights the adversities and injustices experienced by the black community with verses on gun violence, police shootings of innocent black men, drugs, and the use of the privatized prison system as modern day slavery. “How many times you send me to jail to know that I won’t fail/ invisible shackles on the king, ‘cause shit, I’m on bail/ I went from selling out arenas, now shit, I’m on sale.” On “What’s Free” (the most lyrically important track on the album) Meek Mill explains how the justice system continues to view him as a thug despite the moves he’s made to better himself and his community. He states, “Two-fifty a show and they still think I’m sellin’ crack/ When you bring my name up to the judge, just tell him facts/ Tell him how we fundin’ all these kids to go to college, tell him how we ceasin’ all these wars, stoppin violence/ Tryna fix the system and the way that they designed it/ I think they want me silenced.” Meek Mill dishes out life lessons on “Respect the Game” setting up three rules that must be followed including never counting your homie’s pockets, never trusting a “bitch that’ll fuck you for some purses,” and to save money instead of splurging. The Philadelphia rapper continues “cause when it’s all said and done and you back at the bottom, they go’n treat you like you worthless.” Despite the conscious thought invoked by most of the album, Meek takes a break to show his more lovable side on tracks “Dangerous,” “24/7,” and “Almost Slipped” but cannot help but fall to his usual no-fucks-given persona on “WTS” and “Stuck in Ways.” The passionate yet thought provoking album lands Championships a score of a 4.5/5.