From young rapper to superstar, Meek Mill grew up in the vicious streets of North Philadelphia. He was one of the artists that started the DVD movement in Philadelphia at only 14 years old.
Here’s footage of Meek Mill at 14; you can hear the hunger in his voice.
That was the start of the DVD era. DVD’s gave artists the platform to showcase their talents. Meek Mill is one of the pioneers of that movement in his early days with Headshot Records, headed by Young Bob, which included other rappers such as Joey Jihad, D Jones, to name a few. Headshots was one of the hottest up an coming rap cliques circa State Property. The freestyles and battles really captivated the city and kept us wanting more. Out of the clique, Meek Mill and Joey Jihad were the standout rappers. At one point Joey Jihad and Reed Dollaz were hotter on the streets than Meek Mill. Tables turn as you will see later in this article.
It didn’t come easy for Meek Mill. He’s been through battles, beefs, jail time and hate. In this footage from his early days you can see Meek Mill at the beginning calling a rapper out for making song about him. Right after you will see him in a battle.
People say if you can make it in New York you can make it anywhere. I say if you can make it in Philadelphia you can make it everywhere. It wasn’t an easy road as you will see in the next footage.
First there was beef with Reed Dollaz .
This really showed people that Meek Mill wasn’t playing and it solidified him as a trailblazer in the underground.
Meek Mill was consistent with the hustle and he stayed consistent. Fast forwarding a bit, Meek Mill did a county bid and came home disgruntled with his Headshot family. This was the start of a whole new era for Meek Mill and he spoke a lot of things into existence on this clip.
When “The Real Me 2″ came out it was a whole new Meek Mill. When you listen to “It All Started From A Rumble”, to his chemistry with Joey Jihad on “Bang Bang” to his aggressive flow and witty punchlines on the first “Freestyle” of the mixtape, you can see that Meek was able to perfect the art of storytelling in his raps. His collaboration with State Property’s Oschino was the official co-sign Meek needed at the time.
Flamerz 1 was the break-through mixtape. That summer there were two Cd’s that you heard coming out of every car and those were Flamerz 1 and Lil Wayne’s “The Carter 3″. That summer was monumental. With his Single “In my Bag” Prod By: Sap burning up the airwaves and the internet, it was clear that Meek Mill arrived.
Also in that process Meek Mill ushered in a new sound for Philadelphia. During this time he linked up with Charlie Mack through Brock (Heatholders). Charlie Mack heard the mixtape and became Meek Mill’s manager and within a week he was on TI’s Grand Hustle Records. Although there was no official paperwork done, that was his first break on a national level. With him and TI later doing jail time, the deal never took place. While incarcerated, Flamerz 2 was released and it kept Meek Mill hot in the streets. When he came out of jail he was on house arrest for a while. In the midst of him putting out footage of him and rapper Cassidy freestyling, he was dissed by his former partner in rhyme Joey Jihad and Joey’s right hand man Quilly Millz.
This was a on going thing for a while but Meek kept putting out hot music and the beef was eventually squashed.
This time Meek never looked back. He started doing shows in the tri-state area on a regular basis, getting more money per show than most platinum artists out there. Meek released a single called “Rose Red” Prod by: Jahlil Beats which went into rotation on Philadelphia radio. Rick Ross came to town to do press for his album and he jumped on the remix to the song along with Vado and TI. That was the beginning of a relationship with Rick Ross that would lead to a record deal with Maybach Music.
As you can see, Meek is the perfect example of an artist capturing his fans one at a time. He was heavy in the streets and very consistent, and his bars stood out among the rest. He was able to build an army of loyal fans that supported him and really wanted to see him go as far as he can with his career. And he didn’t do this by tweeting his music all day on twitter.
First things first is the music. If your music is not hot, it’s going to be hard to create a buzz in the streets. Don’t get it twisted, there are plenty of artists out there that lack the talent and originality, and they have sustainable careers because of their grind, but it’s always better if your music alone can capture someone’s attention. Your grind might help you get there, but dope music + a great brand keeps you in the game. Meek Mill put out music that captured everyone’s ears. You couldn’t go to a club or even walk down the street without hearing someone blasting Meek in their car. This should be your goal. You have to establish a foundation before you can even reach out to get attention from labels. You need to take your music career into your own hands and get as involved with your local scene as much as possible. Team up with other dope artists in your city. Perform at as many venues as possible.
Do not rely on your management, publicist, etc to get you where you want to go. Fans like when artists get up close and personal. Do plenty of research. Find out where the open mics are in your city, hit up every single one and put on an amazing performance. Bring business cards, bring Cd’s, bring merchandise and most importantly TALK TO PEOPLE! When you are an indie artist, you should never just perform and then roll out. You need to stay for a bit, get people’s opinion on your performance, introduce yourself and find out what they do. You never know who you can meet at an event.
Something that really helps with promo is VISUALS. People need to see you not just hear you. Meek put out a lot of freestyles and behind the scenes footage. He kept people talking! It’s always great to catch all of those random moments, performances, studio sessions, etc. Get out there and be seen! A lot of artists think they are making a big impression online, but when they throw an event or have a performance, they don’t get the response that they wanted. Online presence is extremely important especially because you can reach people all around the world; but it only works if you are making real connections in person as well.
You need to build a STREET TEAM. You can tell if someone is really feeling your music if they are willing to go out and promote the hell out of it for free. You need a nice crowd of people talking about you. Most of the time these are your friends that believe in your music career and want to see you succeed. Then there are loyal fans that you gain along the way. You have to capture everyone in the first conversation, in the first performance, in that first song you let someone hear. If you can get that down, you are pretty much unstoppable. You don’t get many chances at this music stuff.
Don’t expect all of this to happen overnight. Record labels have the ability to break artists pretty quick. You see it all the time – someone who you never heard of drops a single and then you begin to hear them on the radio and they are all over your television. What you don’t see is all the work that artist had to do to even get to that point. It might have taken that artist years to even get recognized by the label.
Moral of the story is: Meek Mill did an amazing job at grabbing everyone’s attention and keeping it. GET PEOPLE TALKING ABOUT YOU! Go put in that ground work and Make all that hard work count!
And don’t forget….
MEEK MILL ‘DREAMS AND NIGHTMARES’ DROPS OCTOBER 30TH!
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