Meek Mill's epic #WelcomeHome concert on Saturday night (March 21) cemented his status as Philadelphia's hip hop Robin Hood. He doesn't steal from the rich in order to give to the poor, but he made it out of the hood and returns his hometown's loyalty by sharing their stories of struggle and making them enticing enough for music consumers to spend their cash on.
Both the man and fictional character are media spin doctors. They use their crimes and narrow escapes from consequence to bolster their reputations within their devoted following. The fact still remains -- no matter how justifiable or petty the crime, they're still criminals and glorified for being so.
After opening his sold-out show at his hometown's Wells Fargo Center with a rambunctious rendition of his latest track "Monster," the Philly prince spoke to the elated crowd about his recent five-month stretch behind bars. "They had me away from my son for five months. A n***a got his mind right and now I'm in my hometown of Philly!"
The mere mention of the city's name elicits a pride evidenced through deafening screams, waving hands and clouds of purple smoke being blown to the rafters. It doesn't seem to matter the reason Meek was incarcerated because he continued to violate the terms of his probation by failing to check in with his probation officer before accepting shows out of state. The judge revoked his probation after feeling the 27-year-old failed to realize the ramifications of his flippant behavior.
The 19,500 in attendance just wanted to celebrate Meek Mill because in celebrating him, they were celebrating themselves. Not only did the Dream Chasers boss run through his mixtape and album hits like "House Party," "Amen" and "Racked Up Shawty," he took his congregation through a history of his career and, in turn, the city's hip hop history. Members of Meek's original crew The Bloodhoundz held the arena captive as they ran through songs from the gold-selling artist's days as a local celebrity.
After giving shine to his former group, he had guest upon guest come out and show him and his hometown some love. The surprise guests included a long list of Philadelphia stars like Beanie Sigel, The Young Gunz, DJ Drama, Yazz the Greatest aka Hakeem from Empire and Allen Iverson.
The rapper and his fans fed off each other's energy, but any time Meek felt the audience's energy dwindling, he brought out another surprise guest to turn the party back up. When collaborators including Fabolous, French Montana, Rick Ross, Jeezy and Yo Gotti shared the stage with Philly's native son, they all praised Meek for being a stand-up guy and for putting on for his city. Though she was in the building, Nicki Minaj remained the supportive girlfriend and did not take the stage, allowing her man to shine.
As the show came to a close, Meek let his hometown know he would always remember where he came from, yet wouldn't slow his hustle for riches and a better life. "I'm gonna forever rep for Philly. I'm gonna forever swag on these f**king rappers. I'm gonna forever keep my day ones with me because I'm a Philly n***a. If you on a journey to the top, make sure you keep your day ones with you!" he shouted.
With that, he was gone, and in everyone's eyes, Meek's message of getting by any means necessary was replaying in their minds. Like his song says, "scared money don't make no money and if I ever go broke I'm gonna take your money." Robin Hood wouldn't have it any other way.
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(Photo: Shareif Ziyadat/FilmMagic)