Meek Mill on Dreams & Nightmares Debut: "The Dream Is Gettin' Paid for What I Love, The Nightmare Was Makin' It to This Point"
|Photo by Smallz Raskind|
"Whenever somebody got a dream," Meek Mill muses, "they want it to be reality."
Coming up in North Philly during the late '90s, Mill was still a wiry 12-year-old kid named Robert Williams, hanging out on street corners and battle rapping with other dudes from the neighborhood.
He fantasized about doing arena shows in NYC and Cali. He imagined seeing himself on MTV. He envisioned a mansion filled with women and cars and watches and clothes and limitless stacks of crisp $100 bills.
So he picked out a new name. He rounded up a few homies: Mel-Luv, Dat Nigga Lil, Young Pooh. And he put his own crew together. They were The BloodHoundz. And even though they only lasted long enough to drop a few mediocre mixtapes like Grimey, Thirsty, Starvin' & Hungry and Blood In, Blood Out, this was the moment when Meek Mill officially got in the game.
Several years later, on the cusp of turning 20, he rattled off a few solo tapes -- 2007's The Real Me followed by 2008's The Real Me 2 and Flamerz -- that seemed to set him up for the kind of rap superstardom that almost instantly leads to arena shows, MTV spots, and mansions filled with women and cars and watches and clothes and limitless stacks of crisp $100 bills. But then he got busted on a gun charge, convicted, and sentenced to eight months in the pen. So he served his time, scrutinizing the pages of XXL Magazine, committing entire unrecorded mixtapes to memory, and plotting his next move.
When Meek finally got his release in early 2009, he was relentless, dropping five tapes in 12 months. He just wanted to stay out of prison. He wanted to escape the streets. He wanted to survive. And he started calling himself a Dreamchaser. "Just somebody who's chasin' their dreams and goals, tryin' to better themself, and achieve," he explains, "no matter what arises." And pausing, he adds, "Never quittin' ... That's the only way to conquer."
No doubt, it's this deep focus and ceaseless grind that convinced Rick Ross, the hardest hustling man in rap, to make Meek Mill a minted member of the Maybach Music Group and then put him on 2011 collabo slab Self Made, Vol. 1, not to mention "Ima Boss," its big Billboard Hot 100 hit. "I work hard. Just like my whole team," Meek says. "MMG, man ... We work hard. We do it. That's why it's called chasin'. We speedin' and catchin' up to something that's runnin' away from us."