5 Things To Know About Robert Williams, AKA Rapper 'Meek Mill'
Through the years, Meek Mill's fans have watched as he has repeatedly been found guilty of technical infractions that have either extended his probation or sent him back to jail.
In 2017, rapper Meek Mill was sentenced to two to four years in prison following a parole violation. But this was only the latest event in the legal labyrinth that the rapper, who is best known for his LP Dreams and Nightmares, his feuds with Canadian rapper Drake, and his relationship with Nicki Minaj, has had to navigate over the past decade.
Through the years, Mill's fans have watched as he has repeatedly been found guilty of technical infractions that have either extended his probation or sent him back to jail.
Here are five things to know about the life and legal struggles of the hip-hop superstar.
For many, Mill has become a symbol of criminal justice reform.
Mill, whose given name is Robert Rihmeek Williams, was born in Philadelphia. His father, Robert Parker, who is described by his brothers as a drug dealer and robber, was murdered when Mill was just five years old, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.
He started rapping competitively at the age of 14, according to Rolling Stone. By the time he was a teenager, Mill was also reportedly getting into trouble.
Mill's struggles with the law inspired the #FreeMeekMill movement, which has been led by Mill's celebrity supporters including JAY-Z, T.I., and Rick Ross, who wrote on Instagram: "Every time an obstacle crosses his path, he fights his way through and comes out triumphant," he said. "I've watched him 1st hand fight this unjust system for close to a decade. But my dawg is a warrior!"
The original incident that sent Mill to prison happened in 2007.
In January 2007, police reportedly carried out a drug raid on a house where Mill was living with his cousins. Mill was charged with assaulting the police after two officers gave a statement against him in the case, saying he chased them down with a gun and tried to kill them.
In 2008, he was sentenced to several months in prison, but was released early with five years' parole.
Mill reportedly admitted that he was carrying a gun illegally to a local grocery store, but has always denied that he pulled out the weapon to threaten police. He has stated that if he had taken out a weapon, he believes that he would have been shot and killed by police. Police dispute Mill's version of the incident and, in court records cited by Philadelphia Magazine, a second officer claimed that Mill had brandished a weapon on the night of the incident.
Mill told Billboard that police "beat the shit out of me." He used his mug shot, with his swollen eye prominently displayed, on the cover of his mixtape Dreamchasers 4.
Over the next several years, parole violations kept racking up.
Over the next five years, Mill was convicted of several parole violations. Many of the violations involved him failing to report his travel plans to the judge presiding over his case as required.
During a music-video shoot in 2014, Mill posed with water guns for a photo. Judge Genece Brinkley sentenced Mill to three to six months in county jail for posing with a firearm, which is considered a probation violation.
In March 2017, he was reportedly arrested after being involved in a fight at a St. Louis airport. A few months later, he was arrested again in New York for "reckless endangerment" after an incident on his dirt bike.
Mill was incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution in Chester, Pennsylvania.
Mill claims that he had several bizarre experiences with Judge Brinkley.
After his sentence hearing on September 5, 2016, Mill told Billboard that Judge Brinkley asked Mill and Nicki Minaj to see her in her chambers. Mill claims that at this point, the judge asked Mill if he would consider doing a remake of Boyz II Men’s “On Bended Knee.”
“She asked me to shout out some important people like my mother, herself, Nicki,” Mill told the magazine. “I was astonished that a judge is even talking about doing a remake to a song. That was an eyebrow-raiser.”
Judge Brinkley denies this event ever occurred. In an opinion filed in court, the judge insisted that she had "committed no error" and that her sentence of Mill was "not manifestly excessive." She also accused Mill's lawyers of making baseless accusations against her regarding her conduct during the case.
He was granted extraordinary relief and released in 2018.
On April 24, 2018, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued an order which agreed to grant Mill "extraordinary relief" because of questions the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office posed regarding the rapper's original arrest in 2007 — and the behavior of the arresting officer.
Mill's legal team had produced evidence that the officer, Reginald V. Graham, allegedly lied to secure Mill's conviction, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.
In July 2019, Pitchfork reported that Mill's 2008 conviction on drug and gun charges was due to be thrown out, and Mill will be granted a new trial. This also meant that, for the first time in over a decade, Mill was not on probation.
Representatives for Mill sent a statement to Pitchfork. It read:
I’d like to thank the Pennsylvania Superior Court judges for their wisdom and transparency in reviewing my case, unanimously overturning my conviction and granting me a new trial. The past 11 years have been mentally and emotionally challenging, but I’m ecstatic that justice prevailed. This positive outcome wouldn’t have been possible without the support of my family, my attorneys, JAY-Z, Desiree Perez, Michael Rubin, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office and my supporters who have stood with me through the ups and downs. Unfortunately, millions of people are dealing with similar issues in our country and don’t have the resources to fight back like I did. We need to continue supporting them. I’m committed to working with my team at the REFORM Alliance to change these outdated laws and fix our broken criminal justice system.
Read more: The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Philadelphia Inquirer (2), Rolling Stone, PhillyMag.com, Billboard, Billboard (2), Pitchfork