What a way to begin a new year. Rapper, Meek Mill may begin 2016 behind bars as a judge appears likely to send him to jail early next year for a steady stream of probation violations, most involving his failure to keep the court aware of his erratic travels.
Mill offered emotional testimony on Thursday about his rudderless childhood in gritty North Philadelphia, while his girlfriend Nicki Minaj and various managers pledged to keep him on track.
But Judge Genece Brinkley, who had spared him state prison in a 2009 drug and gun case, had heard it all before.
“How many times am I supposed to give him a second chance?” she asked, concluding that probation may no longer be “appropriate.” She ordered him not to work or perform before sentencing on 5th February.
A jail term would presumably stall his career following a year in which the Roc Nation-signed talent has performed with Minaj, Jay-Z and other industry A-listers, and issued his second studio album, Dreams Worth More than Money.
Mill served short stints in jail and home confinement following his conviction in 2008 for firearms possession and dealing drugs, when he could have been sentenced to five to 10 years in prison.
“The chance you gave me definitely changed my life and changed my family’s life,” Mill testified on Thursday – referring to her sentencing him to six months in jail for a parole violation last year. Earlier this year, he told XXL magazine: “This judge, she don’t play no games, so a second’s like a month to her. What I took from it, [the judge] just seen me acting in a certain manner and being a certain way, which she viewed me in that I wasn’t supposed to be in [while] on probation, and I got locked up. Then I seen what she saw. I couldn’t see it until I actually was locked up. I was going through stuff with people on Twitter, talking back and forth … she seen that. They see that world too, you know what I’m saying? I think she recognized it, and I think it saved me really. I think it was the best thing that happened to me at that time … The judge I got, she really got a super high potential for me. And you know, I wasn’t really looking at it that way. Certain people’s judges, they don’t care about you, they just send you back to jail. She actually worked with me.”
In court, Mill explained that that he supports his mother, extended family and four-year-old son. “If you didn’t give me a chance, I probably wouldn’t be at this place I’m at now.”
Mill, born Robert Williams, lost his father to violence when he was five and left school early.
“He doesn’t have a lot of structure. He can be irresponsible,” Minaj testified last week. “Since I’ve come in his life, I think I’ve been working on that a little bit … He’s just getting accustomed to being an adult.”
Mill said he has dropped old friends from his entourage to focus on his family and girlfriend. His lawyer said he and Minaj were seriously discussing marriage.
The lawyer blamed the problems on the chaos of the music industry. The latest rules required Mill to get travel vouchers before he leaves town and meet with his probation officer in Philadelphia every 60 days.
“He’s not a person who knows how to keep schedules. He’s not an accountant. He’s an artist,” argued his latest lawyer, Frank DeSimone. “And those people are notoriously slipshod [at organisation].”
The violations include Mill’s performances at a New York benefit concert last month and, according to prosecutors, efforts to meet up in various cities with Minaj. Brinkley also raised questions about a suspicious sample during a drug test. Mill denied trying to thwart the test or taking any drugs. He also dissed the case prosecutor in a rap song, a decision he now calls “immature.”
Mill told the judge he was so concerned about the rules that he missed being at his mother’s bedside after a recent surgery in New Jersey. The state, Brinkley explained, was keeping supervised felons out that day amid heightened security for the Miss America pageant.
“This court has done nothing but try to help the defendant,” she said.
Mill has previously been arrested four times for parole violation and had been warned a fifth offence would result in imprisonment.