ATLANTA (AP) — Meek Mill faced scrutiny during his highly-publicized rap feud with Drake and relationship with former girlfriend Nicki Minaj.
Some may think Mill lost in both situations, especially after Drake's Grammy-nominated diss track "Back to Back." But the Philadelphia-bred rapper doesn't view it that way, saying there were other pressing issues in his life he considers as losses — from the death of close friends to a probation violation that landed him three months in house arrest last year.
While wearing a gold pendant in remembrance of the late rapper and protege Lil Snupe, who was shot dead in 2013, Mill spoke with The Associated Press about his new album "Wins & Losses," which comes out Friday. He also touches on empowering young black youth, Minaj's ex-boyfriend Safaree Samuels being jumped during the BET Awards weekend and his aspirations of doing film.
AP: What compelled you to name your album "Wins and Losses"?
Mill: Everybody saying that I'm losing and I lost. I lost my case. I lost my friends to the streets. Those things really meant something to me. I started off in the basement on a karaoke machine. Now I'm in million-dollar studios, making a lot of money being able to feed my family and take them out a crazy environment, still being able to wake up on my own time and do things how I want to do it. That's my definition of winning. I determine my definition of losing on this album.
AP: Your single "Young Black America" has a politically-charged tone. What do you want people to take away from it?
Mill: It's an eye-opener for the young people for my culture. It's to help them open their eyes and see what they are really dealing with in real reality. A lot of rap isn't based off reality most of the time. Sometimes it's ignorant. ... I just wanted to give young people in our culture an understanding of what's going on. In one video, we got young kids with guns with KKK masks on, basically saying we killing our own.
AP: What run-ins have you experienced with the law that youngsters can relate to?
Mill: I was 18 and got beat up by a cop and almost killed by cops. I was just a statistic coming up. The cops are in a dangerous neighborhood thinking everybody else in the neighborhood is dangerous or everybody in the hood is killers. They caught me and treated me like I was a killer. I don't think that's really right. The cop gave me a 100 charges with trying to kill a cop. I don't want to kill a cop. They basically put me on probation for the rest of my life from that point on when I was 18. I'm 30 now and still on probation. I've been to jail three times from that one stint of probation. Any mistake you make, you'll be put in prison. Your freedom can be took.
AP: Your relationship with Minaj and beef with Drake really put a spotlight on you. How did you take to the criticism?
Mill: I'll look at the internet and see comments like, 'Meek got Nicki money.' You can't know nothing about Meek Mill if you saying something like that. They be like 'Meek Mill can't rap.'... 'Somebody wrote Meek Mill raps'. ... I came up on YouTube rapping since I was 14 years old. That's my importance to the streets. They seen me come up. My story is not a facade.
AP: Did you have anything to do with Safaree being jumped?
Mill: I don't know nothing about him getting jumped on. I pulled up and actually seen him getting into an altercation. You can look at my face and see that I was surprised. Me and my friends had a party at that spot that night, so that's somewhere we were supposed to be going. I don't communicate with him. I don't know him. I don't even want to base those guys in this interview. That's not even on my level. Street fights take place all the time. I ain't touch nobody. Didn't put no hand on nobody. I'm on strict probation. I'm just trying to handle my business and feed my family. I don't think those dudes are worthy of being talked about.
AP: Does your short film, "Wins & Losses: The Movie" make you want to get more involved in film?
Mill: I want to do something that expresses the things we go through. The things we feel. I have a lot of older white friends who don't understand our culture. They might see ignorant or wild things and don't understand why it's going on. But I might have to break it down like, 'Yo, this guy is on drugs for 15 years.' I believe I can express things through film.
Follow Jonathan Landrum Jr. on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MrLandrum31 . His work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/jonathan%20landrum