“I can never lose, chess or checkers make your move.” – Meek Mill, “Ooouuu (Remix)”
Meek Mill said that on his Game diss, and I’m still not 100-percent sure what he meant by it. Sometime since he was released from prison in December 2014, the Philly MC lost his way. I may be one of the few who still believe this, but by making smarter, more disciplined moves, his best days may still be ahead of him.
I do believe you can turn your losses into lessons if you’re willing to correct your behavior. But I’ve also learned you have to be real about why you’re losing in order to get to that point. And whether he’s playing chess, checkers or shooting dice with his career, Meek won’t win like we’ve been wanting him to until he honestly reflects on his L’s.
We’ve all been rooting for Meek since the street DVD freestyle days with the dusty braids. He’s been the perpetual underdog of Hip Hop’s Internet generation. But, as he’s risen through the ranks of the rap game, his potential has been limited by his refusal to acknowledge his shortcomings and move accordingly.
The only underdog that beats the odds is the one that shows up on top of their game and gives their full effort. But Meek keeps finding himself in fights he can’t win, and rarely shows up on his A game. Nobody expected his tweets about Drake to turn into a Grammy-nominated diss, but you can’t take the string of losses Meek has taken in the year since his Twitter fingers went off and claim to be playing chess.
Meek’s not tanking like his hometown 76ers: Hip Hop L’s don’t lead to lottery picks. And even worse, his losses have been on the beats and not in the streets. That’s good for his reputation in Philly, but terrible for his credibility as an international rapper. Drake, a child actor from Canada, who specializes in simping anthems, thoroughly out-rapped him for questioning his skill with the pen. And Game’s recent rebuttal to Meek’s half-hearted “Ooouuu” diss was even more vicious than “Back To Back.” Meek doesn’t need to be worried about keeping it real any more, he needs to focus on keeping his job.
"“You jumped Quentin Miller and now you don’t scrap / It was time to go at Drizzy and now you don’t rap" https://t.co/wgpWhAZtAT
But contrary to Drake and Game’s claims, Meek is much more than a prop on his girlfriend Nicki Minaj‘s tour. He is an extremely talented writer and storyteller with a uniquely authentic story. And he’s turned that story into a legal business through his Dream Chasers brand. But his legal issues and poor decision-making continue to limit his potential. He may indeed be a target of a racist system, as Chris Brown recently said in his defense, but as Breezy should be telling Meek from personal experience, you have to change how you move when you have a target on your back.
From the rap beefs he wasn’t ready for, to the alleged bullying of Quentin Miller in a mall, all of Meek’s L’s can be traced back to bad decisions any of his many OG’s would have advised him wiser on. Whether it’s Rick Ross, Jay Z or Big Meech, Meek has some legends in his corner, as proven by this Instagram post he made last week, sharing a message he received from BMF’s Big Meech.
Meek’s tried to do right. He’s donated water in Flint and to money to Philly schools, but his actions still don’t match his ambitions. Months after announcing that he will stop using violent lyrics, he releases a diss track to Game filled with violence and homophobia that will only hurt his pockets and his reputation the next time he appears on shelves or in court. Jay and Ross have made similar mistakes over the years, but that’s precisely why Meek can’t pretend not to know better.
Meek can bemoan the new rules that allow Kanye and Drake to claim king while employing ghostwriters, and he can hate the modern game that celebrates artists that don’t inspire him, like J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar. But his only choice is to adapt. And, despite the past year, I have faith that he will — as long as he stays out of weird beefs, like this Game and Beanie Sigel debacle, and focuses on using his story to inspire kids around the world.
Despite his tragic 2015-2016, I sill have faith in Meek’s ability to resurrect his career. The shots he’s taken weren’t fatal, and he still has alliances with some of the biggest players in the game. He just needs to focus on everything he has in front him. If he can lock in and focus on recording and touring while keeping a zero-tolerance point for trouble, he could experience a major turn-around. Allen Iverson was disgraced by a bad rap album and was on the trading block the summer before his 2001 MVP season. If Meek can sense the urgency of the moment and rise to the occasion like A.I., he may be able to claim his own MVP award.
In case you weren’t aware, Meek was on a pretty mean winning stream when he caught that first L last July. He chased and caught dreams of signing a major rap deal and wifing Nicki Minaj. So there’s no reason to think he’s not capable. But every new level requires us to learn a new lesson and Meek will end his slump if he gets serious about what he wants and goes after it. If it’s greatness, he will listen to Ross, Jay and Meech when they warn him about taking his blessings for granted. If he doesn’t have the vision to see what’s ahead of him, his next battle could end like B.I.G. and Pac‘s did 20 years ago. And that would be a loss for everyone.