Hip-hop quickly came to Meek's defense and sent him well wishes. JAY-Z dubbed the sentence "unjust and heavy handed"; T.I said, "God places the heaviest loads on the strongest backs. We got real love for u out here KING" and MMG head honcho Rick Ross shared a heartfelt message to his protege on Instagram. "Every time an obstacle crosses his path, he fights his way through and comes out triumphant," he said. "I've watched him 1st hand fight this unjust system for close to a decade. But my dawg is a warrior!"
Meek's legal woes began long before his debut, dating back to his younger days in Philadelphia where he arrested for drug possession in 2007 and found himself entangled in legal troubles multiple times thereafter. Below, Billboard takes a look at Meek's run-ins with the criminal justice system.
Meek Mill Heads to Prison for the First Time (2008)
Meek's first taste of prison came at the age of 18 when he was caught carrying a gun while shopping at a local grocery store. In a 2015 interview with Billboard, Meek recounted his experience. The rapper said that he was walking to a local corner store with a gun in possession and was caught by officials, who "beat the shit out of me." He was arrested in 2008 following the incident, spent eight months in prison and was later placed on probation for five years.
Halloween Arrest (2012)
Meek Mill was pulled over by cops on Halloween because officials reportedly smelled marijuana coming from his car. According to Philly.com, Meek said he was arrested for refusing to allow police to search his car. During that time, Meek was on his way to Atlanta for a performance, which he would've earned almost $40,000 for. His deal with Puma at the time was also in jeopardy due to all the negative press surrounding him.
Violates Probation (2014)
After his prison release, Meek Mill made it his duty to take his music seriously, which worked out in his favor as the rapper signed with Rick Ross' Maybach Music Group label in 2011. Meek showed promise with the release of his breakout track "I'm a Boss" and his star continued to rise since as his debut album, Dreams and Nightmares, peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 chart. Despite all his success, the Philly native landed right back in courts in 2014 for violating his probation by booking performances outside of Philly without Judge Brinkley's approval. The rapper was sentenced to three to six months in jail. Meek began his stint in July and was released from prison in December 2014. He was put on parole and ordered to complete etiquette classes.
Violates Parole, Again (2016)
By the time 2016 rolled around, Meek was at the top of his game. He was dating the hottest female rapper at the time -- Nicki Minaj -- and was embroiled in a meme-able rap beef with Drake. But, Meek found himself in front of Judge Brinkley again for traveling without her permission. In February 2016, Brinkley sentenced the rapper to house arrest for 90 days where he'd be forced to wear an ankle monitor, participate in community service, and was prohibited from working and traveling outside of Philly.
St. Louis Airport Scuffle (2017)
Meek Mill found himself involved in a fight at a St. Louis airport earlier this year after refusing to take a photo with an employee. The rapper was charged with a misdemeanor assault and was given a court summons. At the time, Meek was still on probation from his 2009 drug and gun charge. The misdemeanor assault charge was recently dropped, but it wouldn't be the last run-in Meek would have.
Rides "Recklessly" Through New York City Streets
While Meek started off the year on the wrong foot with a misdemeanor charge following his airport fight, the rapper channeled his energy into his music and dropped off his latest album Wins & Losses. In support of his new album, Meek took the stage at The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon to perform the aptly titled "YBA (Young Black America)" but was arrested shortly after for driving his motorbike recklessly in New York City the night prior, after officials obtained footage from social media of Meek's antics. He was charged with reckless endangerment and reckless driving.
"A guy literally popped a wheelie for 10 seconds on the street with no one else around,” Tacopina said in a video posted by TMZ. “And the police were there. That’s very important. The police were there and they saw it, and they didn’t arrest him. They didn’t even give him a traffic ticket, but somehow the video made it to social media.”
According to TMZ, Meek accepted a plea deal which will remove the charge from his record under the condition that he stays out of trouble for six months and completes community service.
Judge Sentences to Two to Four Years in Prison
Meek may have avoided jail time for his most recent arrests, but Judge Brinkley wasn't so forgiving. Meek's two charges for 2017 violated his probation terms and on Monday (Nov. 6), Judge Brinkley made it clear she's had enough and sentenced the rapper to two to four years in state prison. In a report by Philly.com, Brinkley told Meek, "I gave you break after break, and you basically just thumbed your nose at this court."
As Meek was taken into custody, his rap peers offered him some encouraging words including A$AP Ferg, Nipsey Hussle, YG, Kevin Hart, JAY-Z, Rick Ross and more.
Meek Mill Is Granted Bail and Early Release
On Tuesday (April 24), a Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued an order to a lower court to grant Meek Mill an early release on bail. The rapper was sentenced to two to four years in prison last November for probation violation and made several attempts to get his conviction overturned but was repeatedly denied by Judge Brinkley.
Kevin Hart visited Meek on Tuesday morning and announced on his socials that Meek was a finally free man. Shortly after, Meek announced the good news on his own Twitter and thanked all his supporters for their love during the "nightmare" he experienced.
"I’d like to thank God, my family, my friends, my attorneys, my team at Roc Nation including JAY-Z, Desiree Perez, my good friend Michael Rubin, my fans, The Pennsylvania Supreme Court and all my public advocates for their love, support and encouragement during this difficult time," he said in a statement to Billboard. "While the past five months have been a nightmare, the prayers, visits, calls, letters and rallies have helped me stay positive. To the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office, I’m grateful for your commitment to justice -- not only for my case, but for others that have been wrongfully jailed due to police misconduct."