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Flamerz 5 and the Meek Mill Story So Far

Upon the release of his latest mixtape, Boardroom takes stock of the Philly superstar’s growth as not just a rapper and businessman, but a voice for criminal justice reform.

“I think it was December when they swarmed me,” Meek Mill rapped on “Cold Hearted” from his 2015 album Dreams Worth More Than Money.

Late November or early December sounds about right as Meek now releases his highly anticipated Flamerz 5 mixtape on Nov. 21, though he’s telling fans that it won’t be an ordinary mixtape. Rather, the Philly artist boldly compared Flamerz 5 to Lil Wayne’s fan-favorite No Ceilings series.

Weezy’s No Ceilings, which dropped in October of 2009, sold a total of 24,879 units in its first week of being released, with 3,393 of those being pure sales… in 2020. Now, there’s no saying what Meek can put up in terms of numbers, but he’s setting expectations high. No Ceilings is a gem that simply can’t be replicated, but perhaps he’s hinting about a similar strategy by which Weezy rapped over other famous beats, including F.L.Y.’s “Swag Surfin’,” Jay-Z’s “D.O.A.,” Fabolous’ “Throw It In The Bag,” among so many more.

Meek Mill kickstarted his Flamerz series in 2008, using it as a means to break into the rap game in Philly, while the last installment arrived in March 2010 with appearances from fellow locals like Black Thought, Freeway, and Gillie Da Kid. Now, more than a decade later, he’s bringing the series back with its fifth edition.

Similar to No Ceilings, Meek rapped over Rick Ross’ track “The Boss” — thus, we should probably anticipate hearing Meek’s gritty voice rapping over familiar beats. Meek teased the opening track on Twitter earlier this week and samples Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” from the 1982 film Rocky III, which was famously filmed in Philadelphia.

Meek will close out November with a homecoming show in Philly to celebrate the 10th anniversary of his debut studio album, Dreams and Nightmares, at the 76ers’ and Flyers’ Wells Fargo Center.

Expensive Pain

Meek’s most recent album, Expensive Pain, dropped in Oct. 2021 and debuted at No. 3 on the US Billboard 200 chart, earning 95,000 album-equivalent units (including 10,000 copies in retail album sales) in its first week, and racked up 110.53 million on-demand streams on top of it all.

One week after the album dropped, Meek told Good Morning Football host Kay Adams that Expensive Pain was his best album yet. “I was coming out of a long writer’s block in the pandemic,” Meek said. “So, I wasn’t really doing music really deep into it. But when I broke out of it, I kicked into a new talent of mine, I think, where I got a lot of new flows, and I’m excited about what the fans will hear, because it’s the new side of me.”

Expensive Pain was Meek’s fifth album to debut at No. 3 or higher on the Billboard 200, Dreams Worth More Than Money and Championships both debuted at No. 1 on the chart.

The 18-track album features production by Boi-1da, Tay Keith, Cardo, and Sevn Thomas, among others. A$AP Ferg, Kehlani, Brent Faiyaz, Moneybagg Yo, Young Thug, Vory and Giggs round out the features.

The last song on Expensive Pain? “Flamerz Flow.”

One year later, here we are.

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Philanthropy

Alongside his musical ascendancy, Meek Mill has become a voice for criminal justice reform. In 2017, after being arrested in New York for recklessly operating a dirt bike, was sentenced to two to four years in prison for violating the terms of his parole. His appeal, which came to attract widespread interest and support, went all the way to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania and prevailed. When he was finally released, he began fighting for those who have been adversely affected by what they see as an unjust probation system.

At the time, Meek was one of 4.5 million people on probation or parole following convictions for nonviolent offenses. Inspired by Meek and Jay-Z, Fanatics CEO Michael Rubin couldn’t believe what he had been witnessing — he was in court firsthand when the rapper was sentenced to two to four years in state prison. Not long after, Meek requested for Rubin and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft to visit him while he was behind bars.

“I’d never been to a jail,” Kraft said in 2020. “When I visited him, I said, ‘Here we have a guy on a parole violation for doing something silly like a wheelie. And he’s in jail.’ That visit impacted me more than anything.”

“This was no different than fixing one of my businesses,” Rubin said. “You see a problem and you say, ‘How can I aggressively fix this?’ You get the best people involved, getting the appropriate capital involved, and you put the best team together. We put together a world-class team.”

That’s when the REFORM Alliance was created.

Led by Meek, Rubin, Kraft, Jay-Z, and Brooklyn Nets owners Joe and Clara Tsai, and several others, the group priorities supporting those wrongfully imprisoned for violating parole and probation for nonviolent offenses. In 2023, Meek’s REFORM Alliance goal is to work toward replacing America’s current probation and parole system with a restorative approach that is “fair, accountable, and invested in rehabilitation.

Meek’s Business Ventures

Particularly due to his relationship with Rubin, Meek is on an absolute tear as a businessman, too. Two major examples from the past few years alone:

  • Feb. 2019: Meek became co-owner of LIDS, the largest retail seller of hats and licensed sports products in North America. He joined Rubin’s Fanatics and investment firm Ames Watson, who acquired Lids in Feb. 2019 for $100 million, as part of the chain’s ownership.
  • Nov. 2022: Meek was one of several names announced as part of an ownership group in collaboration with Fanatics that bought 75% of nostalgic sports apparel company Mitchell & Ness for $250 million in Feb. 2022.

“I make my own decisions of what I’m going to invest in,” Meek said in 2019. “I have companies that manage my finances… I have my own financial team at the same time. Me, I stay on top of everything myself too. I just keep things going.”

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