Meek Mill and Chance the Rapper both released music this week that sees the iconic hip-hop artists taking on criminal justice reform, economics, and Trump/Kanye. It's good stuff and you can listen to it below.
Championships by Meek Mill
Oh, say can you see, I don't feel like I'm free/Locked down in my cell, shackled from ankle to feet/Judge bangin' that gavel, turned me to slave from a king/Another day in the bing, I gotta hang from a string/Just for poppin' a wheelie, my people march through the city/From a cell to a chopper, view from the top of the city
Philadelphia rapper Meek Mill dropped Championships on Friday. His first studio album since being released from prison in April, Mill's decision to collaborate with Drake on "Going Bad" signifies the end of a long feud between the two, while "What's Free" shows Mill riffing deeply on the wheelie that cost him his liberty.
First convicted in 2008 at the age of 19 for possessing a gun in a grocery store, Mill has spent the lat 10 years in and out of prison and on probation. His most recent stint hinged on a farcical and petty abuse of state power: a social media video showed him popping a wheelie on a motorbike. The subsequent reckless endangerment and reckless driving charges violated the terms of his probation and saw him sentenced to two to four years in prison.
Since his release, Mill has used his story to show how easy it is to become swept up in the criminal justice system. He has has vowed to lobby for criminal justice reforms, especially for those facing long probation times.
Jay-Z also addresses his own friendship struggles with Kanye West, who has spent the better part of 2018 declaring his love for the president, on the song. Calling out his old collaborator by name, HOV makes it clear that he won't be donning a red MAGA hat anytime soon.
New Tracks from Chance the Rapper
Don't gifts get re-wrapped?/That shit could get sticky like tree sap/I gave you free raps, that shit sound like free facts/Which is 'bout as common as free Blacks
—"The Man Who Has Everything"
Though Chance the Rapper hasn't released an album since 2016, he's kept fans fed with the occasional single. We got a double delight on Friday, when Chance uploaded "The Man Who Has Everything" and "My Own Thing (feat. Joey Purp)" to SoundCloud. The songs are personal, focusing on topics like his relationship with his fiancée. In between those reflections, however, is some commentary on his decision to release music for free.
As Sean McBride wrote at the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) in 2016, the free-music strategy is a capitalist one. By advertising his product that way, Chance's raps become accessible to all kinds of crowds. When people begin to yearn for more, he can make up the cost, in part, with sold-out tours and merchandise sales.
While Chance himself has not used the c-word to describe what he does, he did tell the Chicago Tribune, "I put my music out there for free because I wanted people to see and notice it as a beacon for what I'm doing…" But make no mistake. Chance added that he's never been "against" selling his product, which he believes has value.