It’s hard to be from Philadelphia and not be proud of Meek Mill.
You don’t have to be a die-hard. You don’t have to agree with every decision that he’s ever made. But it’s pretty difficult not to respect this man’s grind when 15 years ago, rap DVDs like 2 Raw For The Streets could be found in any high school from Philadelphia all the way out to Reading and Willow Grove, and on them you would often see the beginning stages of a young dreamer chasing his dreams. It’s also hard not to salute Meek Mill when 10 years ago, February 24th, 2009, he released what his city would know as the match that started it all…better known as Flamers 2.
“Meek Mill terrible, flow unbearable / Cause I break bricks and throw shells like Mario”
Flamers 2 helped separate Meek Mill from his peers. If you are familiar with the Philadelphia Rap DVD era, then you’re aware of the large amount of talented lyricists, such as Joey Jihad, Reed Dollaz, Vodka, Franky Wit Da Grippaz , Magic and more. Artists who were making a name for themselves by spitting some of the hottest 16’s that we had ever heard.
At first, Meek was just the youngin who had a cocky flow and a hunger in his delivery that matched his peers who were older than him. His mixtapes though, The Real Me, The Real Me 2 and Flamers, showed that he had potential to be more than just a nice-on-the-mic spitter, but a songwriter as well. Flamers had “In My Bag” and “Do Dat There,” featuring Philly hip hop vets Gillie Da Kid and Oschino, and cuts like this showed that Meek had the ability to make hit records. The sequel was blessed enough to come with a team that would help him make him inescapable in his city.
”I’m a stand up nigga, I jump up everytime I fall / Everytime I lost I came back, like cook crack / Got my hand up in the game and I ain’t never look back”
Flamers 2 was released at a pivotal time in Meek’s career. The year prior to it’s release, he caught the attention of founder of 215 Aphilyated, Charlie Mack, who immediately signed Meek to his management company. He also grabbed the ears of Atlanta hip hop legend T.I., who was so impressed with what he had heard from Meek that he signed him to his label Grand Hustle — which, at the time, was Meek’s first official record deal. Sadly, trouble manages to find us while it sees us getting ready to shine. While getting ready to take his first steps into mainstream, Meek unfortunately had to deal with legal troubles and was jailed during the release of Flamers 2: however trouble couldn’t stop what God and the universe had in store for Meek’s future.
“Ask about us who we are, I’m a young king of one self / I ain’t askin for no ride I made it here all by myself”
With assistance from Chester producer Jahlil Beats — and features from some of Philly’s best like Peedi Crakk, Oschino, Gillie Da Kid, Ar-Ab and more — Flamers 2 showed Philly that Meek was going to be the next big thing coming out of the City of Brotherly Love. In 2009, there was no way to be in this city and not hear a song from that mixtape. It was impossible to walk down Diamond Street and not hear a Crown Vic blasting “Hottest In Tha City,” “Prolli,” or “Goons Gone Wild.” 10 years ago, you couldn’t go to a college party or clubs like Pinnacle, Fizo’s Lounge, Samba, or Shampoo not see a DJ getting the crowd hype by playing hits like “I’m So Fly,” “Ain’t I (Remix),” and “Gettin It In.” The best thing about Flamers 2 was that it wasn’t the pinnacle of Meek’s career: we were all witnessing the beginning of his growth as an artist as well as his growth as a man.
”Tre pound, crack crown / Meek Milly, Bloodhound / Grimy, thirsty / Bout it you heard me”
After releasing Flamers 2, Meek continued to show his ability of making hit records. “Rose Red (Remix),” was the single that led him to sign with Miami rapper Rick Ross’ label Maybach Music Group, after departing from Grand Hustle due to T.I’s own legal issues. “Ima Boss,” helped make his name spread across the country. You can even make an argument that “Dreams and Nightmare (Intro)” was the first classic hip hop single that came from his generation of rap. Being in a relationship with hop star Nicki Minaj influenced Meek to start making songs for women. In the past, Meek’s lyrics about women, like a majority of rap lyrics, have been him depicting the women in his surrounding as nothing but mere objects. However, songs that have gained success — hit records like “All Eyes on You,” featuring Nicki Minaj and Chris Brown, or “Fall Thru,” or “Dangerous” featuring Jerimah and Philly’s own PnB Rock — shows growth, and the more Meek experiences the feeling of viewing a woman as a muse, we can expect more hits like this in the future from him.
“It was nights like this, feeling right like this / I never really spent no time like this, huh / The second time at the crib knowing I might not hit / You said, “What I look like?”, like my bitch”
The greatest thing about Meek’s growth has an artist in the past 10 years is that his content has shown that he’s also grown as a man, which has helped him leave a huge impact on the next generation of rap artists. When you listen to his recent album Championships, you hear a wild and cocky young bol who has grown into a more mature ol head, who is giving game to the next generation on everything he’s been through, from institutional racism, the pitfalls of running around in the streets, being betrayed by loved ones while at the same time providing hits that made people love his music.
Like the billionaire from Marcy, Brooklyn that had his back during an on going court battle with a judge who seems to have a personal vendetta against him, Championships was Meek’s way of telling the youth “Listen, I did that so hopefully you won’t have to go through that.”
As of now Meek Mill, is traveling across the country for his The Motivation Tour, and with next week being the official 10 year anniversary of Flamers 2, it would be pretty awesome to see him perform at least one or two songs from the mixtape that started it all when he comes to his hometown on March 15th and 16th at The Met Philly. Let’s hear his die hard fans scream out “FLAMERS” for old time’s sake.
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