Rap star and social activist Meek Mill received the Nelson Mandela changemaker award at a private event on Thursday. The award is given by PTTOW! (Plan to Take on the World) — which is described as an invitation-only community for CEOs, chief marketing officers and icons, spanning 70 major industries.
Meek was honored for his work with the REFORM Alliance. He is co-chair of the organization, along with Michael Rubin, partner in the Philadelphia 76ers. Under their leadership, the organization has worked to achieve legislative wins on social justice initiatives in several states, including Michigan, Virginia, Georgia and Mississippi.
A brief audio clip from Thursday’s presentation serves as the coda to Meek’s new video, “Mandela Freestyle.” A voice-over says: “The Nelson Mandela changemaker award recognizes individuals who are carrying on Mr. Mandela’s legacy across one of the following key pillars — social equity through activism, community- and nation-building, protection and education of children and youth. So today, we honor Robert ‘Meek Mill’ Williams for carrying on President Mandela’s legacy.”
“Mandela Freestyle” focuses on Meek’s commitment to criminal justice reform and includes these potent lyrics: “The system broke and we can’t fix it/ Take it to the chop shop/ Pick it apart and build it back/ Make it equal for the brown and Blacks.”
Previous winners of the Nelson Mandela changemaker award include Masai Ujiri, Toronto Raptors president and founder of Giants of Africa Foundation; Hugh Evans, Global Citizen CEO/founder; Sharon Stone, actress and humanitarian; Deborah Dugan, former CEO of (RED) and former president/CEO of the Recording Academy; Sophia Bush, actress and Global Education Access advocate; and Clarence Jones, adviser to Dr. Martin Luther King.
Meek Mill, 34, is the first music star to receive the Nelson Mandela changemaker award, though will.i.am and Quincy Jones received other awards from PTTOW!.
Meek Mill has had two No. 1 albums on the Billboard 200: Dreams Worth More Than Money (2015) and Championships (2018). The latter album brought him his only Grammy nomination (for best rap album) and generated his only top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 to date, “Going Bad” (featuring Drake).