On Tuesday night (July 11), BET premiered its newest docuseries, On Tour With, giving viewers a glimpse of the development stages behind the tours of some of music’s biggest artists. Kicking off the first episode, Meek Mill took viewers to his stomping grounds in Philadelphia as he prepared for his homecoming concert, Meek and Friends.
After selling out the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia for his first Meek and Friends concert back in 2015, the rapper returned to his hometown arena earlier this year with the hopes attaining a similar feat. The hour-long program documented the laborious process he and his Dreamchasers crew experienced proving that it’s possible for a sequel to exceed the expectations of the original, and sometimes the risk is well worth the reward.
From his humble beginnings as an aspiring rapper to selling out the Wells Fargo Center and everything in between, here are the best moments from On Tour With: Meek Mill.
His time behind bars
The Philly spitfire was initially arrested in 2007 for possession of a weapon, leading to an eight-month prison sentence in 2008 and found himself entangled in legal issues multiple times thereafter for violating his probation. In his BET special, Meek reflects on his time away, revealing that during his sentence he was confined to his cell for 23 hours each day, served dog food seven days a week, and took showers on floors with fungus. With a family to feed and an insatiable appetite for success, Meek Mill says the experience “made me think more, made me make better decisions and made me say, ‘I ain’t never going back to jail.'”
His community efforts
Growing up in a bad environment in Philadelphia, Meek Mill lived in public housing — which assigned families housing in different areas of the inner city — and was “discouraging” for kids due to the lack of opportunities the environment provided. Journeying back to his old block on 18th and Berks St, the “All Eyes On Me” rapper invited his hometown’s youth football team, Philadelphia Blackhawks, to his Meek Mill and Friends Concert. “Being in this position is like a blessing so, you know, I get a kick out of blessing people,” he says in the doc. “Where I come from we don’t even believe in believing. I just always felt like I should make these young kids believe.”
The impact of his father’s death
Meek Mill was around the age of 4 when he learned of his father’s passing, and although he didn’t quite understand his father’s death at the time, he saw how the absence of his father effected him while growing up. Learning from experience, Meek only wants the best for his son, Rihmeek, and wants to give his son the father figure he needed. “I take the sacrifice of being away from my son to give him a better living and have him a structure where he can have a trampoline he ain’t gotta start from the bottom like me and go through the things I went through.”
How JAY-Z taught him to rap
Meek revealed that reciting JAY-Z lyrics verbatim is how he decided to pick up the mic and it pushed the young rhymer to begin writing his own lyrics. After losing a rap battle – and crying, literally – Meek decided to pursue rap wholeheartedly, no matter what it takes. “The rest of it was history,” he said.
His love for his family and team
Behind every successful artist is a team of dedicated individuals who believe in the artists’ vision, talent, and future. Meek Mill’s supporting team is a tight-knit community of friends and family members who have struggled with him while he was just a budding rapper and are shining with him now that he’s gained prominence. Meek opened up his Meek Mill and Friends Concert stage to his cousin, Omelly, an emerging rapper from Philly, giving Omelly a chance to gain some fans and experience. Other members of his entourage include his booking agent Clint Saunders, a longtime friend of the rapper who supported Meek during his pre-fame days, Sade Tavia, Meek’s stylist of almost four years and Tak, another cousin of the Philly MC and Head of Merchandise for Meek’s tours.
How Jadakiss helped raise young Meek
Without a father figure to lean on while growing up, Meek says he learned the ropes of street life from New York MC Jadakiss. Introducing Jadakiss to his homecoming concert attendees as the man who “helped raised me in these streets,” Jadakiss felt honored that his lyrics made an impact Meek’s life. The duo performed their Give Me The World-collaboration “Heaven or Hell” that night before segueing into one of Kiss’ classic cuts “By Your Side.”