Meek Mill joins Zane Lowe on Apple Music 1 to discuss his brand new album ‘Expensive Pain’, his first full-length since 2018’s ‘Championships’. He tells Apple Music about battling with writer’s block during the pandemic, what he’s learned about prison reform, and what sets the album apart from his other releases. He also discusses why he doesn’t feel he gets the credit he deserves as an artist, why 2019 was his slowest year, JAY-Z’s influence, collaboration, fatherhood, and much more.
Video | Meek Mill tells Apple Music about new album ‘Expensive Pain’, JAY Z’s Influence, prison reform, writer’s block, and more
Meek Mill tells Apple Music about the album title ‘Expensive Pain’
It’s one of my favorite right now. I think this is probably one of my favorite albums where I express myself. I actually said expensive pain on a song with Uzi when we was in a booth rapping. I said, “You ain’t rich, your stash can’t pay my drug bill.” Basically we smoke a lot of weed and stuff like that, and I was playing it for Brent Faiyaz one day in the studio, he heard me say that, he was like, “That bar hot.” He was like, “That’s a fire word, expensive pain.” He was like, “That should be an album title.” And I start thinking about it and then I stuck with it. And then we start coming up with our definition was of expensive pain and what I took from it, just being away from your family in the studio all night, being on tour, the things we go through in life, it could be a million different ways you could break down expensive pain, but through my album, I tell you what mines was.
Meek Mill tells Apple Music what sets ‘Expensive Pain’ apart
This season right here, if I could tell you the truth, I never really was smoking weed my whole life because I was on probation. When I used to be 18, I was a young kid caught up in a trap house in the basement, smoking weed, writing my raps. That’s the real spirit of Meek Mill when I really took rap serious. Now I’m back in the studio smoking freely, I’m not on probation, it unlocked the real art side of me, really new flows, new melodies, being more vulnerable, more personal. I think the people going to be able to identify when they hear this album. I got a lot of energy but I’m not screaming on a lot of records. You can hear me more clear because I’m expressing myself.
Meek Mill tells Apple Music about not forgetting his roots
I always try to really remain, even sometimes I always try to stay close to my hood, not hang in the hood because I can’t, but just to get the feeling and the understanding of never forgetting where I come from and what the people go through, so when I deliver my music, it’s still got real feel to it that people can actually feel inside instead of just dance to. You can dance to it too, but I want you to be able to feel it on the inside when you hear it.
Meek Mill tells Apple Music why he can’t spend time in the environment he grew up in
I come from Philadelphia. If you ever Google it, anybody ever Google it, you just Google how many murders in Philadelphia, it’s 4 or 500 murders a year. 4 or 500 murders is all black and brown kids, people my age. I’m 34 years old, but kids from 15 years old up to 45 years old die in the streets every day. So that’s basically the environment. I don’t really make any money in that type of environment. For me to survive in that environment, I would have to be heavily armed probably, because it’s murder in the neighborhood. That’s always been our upbringing. I rose above that through business, being able to make money and move away, but I still have family and friends that live in that type of environment. So it ain’t a place I could really hang but I would visit and things like that. I got a grandma that live in the hood. I visit my family.
Meek Mill tells Apple Music what he’s learned about prison reform
I understand poverty more, I understand the system of a lot of laws, even me, when I got free, there was a lot of dirty cops who lied on people on the stands and things like that. They had secret lists of the cops who couldn’t testify in front of other cases because they already were caught lying, but those lists were secret. You know me, we hired investigators and got ahold of that, and that freed thousands of people just in itself right there, but just knowing that those type things take place was just mind blowing for me because I was always caught up in the system as a kid. And it’s so many different levels that I learned. If you’ve been following me since the age of 18, I caught this case, I’ve been buzzing in my city. I started buzzing as a rapper in my city at the age of 18 but I had a big legal case. I’ve been in and out of jail, I couldn’t make bail the first six months of my life, and when I made bail, I pursued my rap career, I got hotter in the streets. And once I got hot and my whole neighbourhood started banging my music, I ended up getting locked up again because I lost my case. Before I went to prison, I dropped the mix tape, and when I went to prison the last time, my whole city, my mix tape spread like wildfire. And then I came back home again and got a deal with Rick Ross, and that’s when I became Meek Mill to the world. And me being Meek Mill to the world, probably eight years down the line, I had a probation violation, and went to prison again, and came home. This is the first time I’m living without probation, but basically explaining all that, staying in and out of prison thing was my whole life coming up in the music industry.
Meek Mill tells Apple Music he doesn’t feel he gets the credit he deserves as an artist
Personally, and it’s up for the fans to have a opinion, and that’s what keeps me going, I don’t feel like I get the credit that I deserve far as the artists. I come from the 2012 era. If you go check XXL cover, shout out to Vanessa, I’m on the cover. It’s me, YG, it’s Kendrick, it’s Mac Miller, rest in peace, Fred Godson. But all them guys, I respect them highly, and a lot of them guys last in the game, I’m one of them guys that still here in 2021, I’m about to put on at a talented level, not a marketed level. I want to go straight to the fans.
Meek Mill tells Apple Music about Drake beef, why 2019 was his slowest Year, and what’s different in 2021
2019, I think my slowest year, me and Drake was beefing. I was at a disadvantage. He was winning, in the eyes of the people. I still walked my way through that, went through prison, I had to go through something. Once I bounced back out, ‘Championships’. We had a pandemic, two years go by, few people fading away. We in 2021, I’m going to stand on ‘Expensive Pain’, I’m going to stand on my talent, and I’m going to remain confident and hope that people pay attention to what’s going on because they got a long way to go. I’m trying to keep pushing.
Meek Mill tells Apple Music about JAY Z’s influence and how he’s broken barriers
I come up off ‘The Blueprint’. We come up from listening to the blueprint of real life. My stages of life growing up, we ain’t really had dads growing up in the streets, so music was important to us. We were young, we ain’t really know about the level of stuff JAY Z was talking about, but when I got older, I got ‘The Blueprint’, I was rapping, I was making music. So that was the beginning of me falling in love with how Jay move and how he handle business. I couldn’t really understand it, but once now I got around Jay and see how he’s moving and how he handle business, this is my infrastructure that I follow. He make it better for all young black men in the business to be able to move fast and open bigger doors. Sometimes I even text him and be like, “Yo, you’re making a faster lane for all of us. I want you to know that,” because that’s a big deal when you break barriers like the ones he break. I don’t really shy away when people I’m connected to break big barriers, and I see him do that a lot.
Meek Mill tells Apple Music he collaborates with other artists
The way I record, we might be in a studio right now, Ferg might walking in, and we might record a song, and that song might be the song that’s on Expensive Pain. We do it the real way. Uzi Vert just left out of here probably 10 minutes ago. He just finished the song just like that. We just do it off a vibe. And sometimes with Kehlani, I actually heard the vibe of the song and sent that to her because she been killing stuff lately, and I felt her vibe for that song.
Meek Mill Tells Apple Music he had 400 songs in consideration for ‘Expensive Pain’
My shit was 400 songs or something like that. I changed my album probably three times in the last two weeks.
Meek Mill tells Apple Music about being a dad
I got a 10-year-old son and I got a one-year-old son, so it just gave me a extra eye opener, opened both of my eyes that I really got to be a man, and really be here for some people, and build a real family and situation for some people that I made. I had babies and I never grew up with a father, so I got a responsibility to raise them to be way better than I am.
Meek Mill tells Apple Music about the ‘Expensive Pain’ album art
Yeah, with art, culture currency, we got a clique, it’s just a bunch of people that come from different worlds, people that come from the tech world, people that come from the music industry, stocks, business, Bitcoin. We got a big group of guys, we always talk about everything, and art happened to be one of the conversations during quarantine. We talked about it for hours. And even if you think I’m listening or think I’m not listening, I might still be listening, that was one of the conversations that I was listening in on. And Nina was one of the pages that I followed through the conversations, and I just start checking her art out and stuff like that, getting an understanding of what art is, because I know of art but I didn’t have a full understanding of the world. Coming up with ideas, I just came up, I’m going big. I was like let’s ask Nina could she do the cover for my album, and she agreed to do it, and I gave her my vision. We connected and we just made art from there on out.
Meek Mill tells Apple Music how he stays grounded
I talk to my family every day. We got stuff, we stay intact with our main family, like my mom, my sister, my sons, and stuff like that, my niece, my nephew. I keep close friends around me, I got a lot of business people around me that I didn’t grow up with, but I try to remain with a real foundation of people that can keep me sane because in music, we travel from city to city, state to state. We get told yes by people, we celebrities. I try to ground myself. Me and my mom, and then we tell each other good night, we love each other every night, we talk, “Are you okay?” There was a point in my career where I lost that, just chasing, so I would say that’s my realest part to keep me grounded right now.