If there was a sign that Meek Mill’s career had started moving at the speed of celebrity, it probably came two months ago when his name was thrown into the same tabloid blender as TMZ chew toys Chris Brown, Drake, and Rihanna.
The most curious part of the bottle-tossing brawl between Drake and Chris Brown (over Rihanna) at a New York nightclub two months ago was figuring out why Meek was somehow in the middle of it.
At most, Meek said he was a bystander (Twitter feud with Brown and romantic ties to Rihanna notwithstanding), but the guilt by association says something about the level of fame he had achieved after two enormous singles last year and his status as Rick Ross’s golden child.
Now, he says, he’s clearly living in a different world.
“I’m used to walking around and chilling and being a laid-back person and trying to be regular. But they just won’t let you be regular,” the Philly-hardened 24-year-old rapper said. “Something can happen near you and they say you’re involved in it, or you could just be around something or the wrong place in the wrong areas and things could come your way.
“I’m not really used to that. I’m used to really just getting in and blending in and and being among the people. But, you know, things change. You’ve got to change with the times.”
Ever since he became the undeniable centerpiece of Ross’s Maybach Music Group, it’s been startling to see how fast things have changed for him.
When 2011 started, he was on XXL’s Freshman 10 list with Diggy Simmons and Lil Twist. When 2012 started, he was No. 7 on MTV’s Hottest MCs list, one spot behind Jay-Z.
After releasing his “Dreamchasers” mixtape last year, he dropped the sequel in May and it set records on mixtape website Datpiff, running up 1.5 million downloads in six hours.
His debut album, “Dreams and Nightmares,” is set for an October 30 release, and he performs at the House of Blues on Thursday. He’s already gone through his prerelease drama with a preacher from his hometown “taking his hood pass” after disapproving of his lead single, “Amen,” with Drake.
Still, when Meek put his career in Ross’s hands, Ross had a vision. Meek made it clear that he was in a hurry.
“He definitely had a plan, and I had a plan too,” Meek said. “I told Ross, in the next six months I’m trying to be up and running and in effect in like the next six months. “
He signed to MMG in February 2011, in March he was on the cover of XXL, in April “Tupac Back” was the lead single for Maybach’s “Self Made Vol. 1” compilation, and in June when that album came out, it debuted at No. 5 on the Billboard Top 100.
“That was the plan, just going full blast and attacking the game on another level,” Meek said. “And that’s the plan that went through.”
If Ross has one superpower it’s ubiquity. It’s become the signature of MMG.
Meek’s “Dreamchasers 2” hit the Internet this May. Their follow-up crew record “Self Made Vol. 2” dropped a month after. Ross’s “God Forgives, I Don’t” dropped a month after that.
It’s like they have club bangers on a conveyor belt. The payoff is hearing how much the records pop.
“You start being in every club and your song’s ringing off in the club and the whole club’s going crazy every time, every city,” he said. “Coming up with Rick Ross, that’s a good thing to come up with. You know Ross, he’s all about his artists making moves and taking things to the next level and it’s been great working with him. That’s all we’ve been doing is we’ve been moving.”
The impact of “Self Made Vol. 1” largely went overlooked. But with Kanye West now throwing his G.O.O.D. Music release “Cruel Summer” into the mix next month you could argue, which Meek does, that MMG made the crew record relevant again.
“It wasn’t really no groups,” he said. “We inspired everything. Everybody else jumped back on the group thing and took it back to where the game’s supposed to be as far as a bunch of rappers working together.
“It’s a lot of rappers that’s signed on labels and not even working together in the way we do it. We ain’t ego trippin’ or really trippin’ off nothing. We’re just working together and making money and doing what we love to do.”
Ross often makes it clear that he looks at Meek like a proud father.
“Me and Ross we got that big brother-little brother relationship,” Meek said. “Ross showed me a lot in the game. He’s who I came into the game with, so you know we’ve got a real relationship.
“I don’t know how other people feel about people that put them on, but Ross is the person that actually changed my life as far as like from living in the streets to taking my life to another level. He’s one of the people that helped me do that. So it’s a certain kind of relationship. I’ll always have love forever.”
Julian Benbow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story has been changed from the print version to reflect that the album has been pushed back to October 30.