Despite all the injustice and rap beefs Meek Mill has endured since his first album this latest project captures an intensity that the Philly rapper is known for and best at.
With this 18-track project with an all-star cast of hip-hop artists, it is staunch, confident and completely uncompromising. Themes of prison reform, black oppression and injustices against the marginalised run throughout. Though some songs stray, sounding like loose threads, it feels like Meek’s making up for lost time rather than cynically touting for streaming numbers, and he comes back fighting: ‘Championships’ cements the Philadelphia artist as one of the best in the game.
As always, Meek Mill raps with a level of buy-in that few of his peers could muster even in their imagination. On “What’s Free,” an impassioned flip of Biggie’s “What’s Beef,” Meek launches a valiant defense of not only his character but his humanity. “Two-fifty a show and they still think I’m sellin’ crack,” he raps. “When you bring my name up to the judge, just tell him facts/Tell him how we fundin’ all these kids to go to college/Tell him how we ceasin’ all these wars, stoppin’ violence/Tryna fix the system and the way that they designed it.” Though the track is marred by Rick Ross, who muddles its message with a repulsive, sub-Eminem homophobic quip about 6ix9ine in prison, it closes with a grand finale: a bravado, 50-bar JAY-Z verse that stands among his meatiest ever.
Meek Mill’s Championships is eventful. Listening to the album is like attending a sporting event that’s thunderous, high-spirited, and star-studded. This is sitting courtside at the final NBA game and watching as the world’s most noteworthy hoop titans aim for victory. Meek and company showed up to secure a trophy.
Meek crosses off every kind of track he’s known for on Championships: vigorous album intro, roof-combusting bangers, introspective life reflection, triumphant street sermons, etc. It’s all here, a complete worldview of what he has to offer.
Championships fully revives Meek in the public spotlight. He’s maturing—the album exhibits growth as a man, but especially a black man in America. Even when he wants to boast about a watch, or brag about a woman, his mind doesn’t wander far from how unjust this country has treated him and those who look like him. It’s where Meek shines the brightest.