Gil Scott-Heron said the revolution will not be televised. Whether or not that remains true in 2020, one thing is sure: the uprising going on right now has one hell of a soundtrack, thanks to Meek Mill. The rapper dropped a surprise track, “Otherside of America,” on June 5, which kicks off with none other than Donald Trump. “What do you have to lose?” says the voice of the President of the United States. It’s a quote taken from a 2016 rally when then-candidate Trump was courting the black vote. “You’re living in poverty. Your schools are no good. You have no jobs. 58% of your youth is unemployed. What the hell do you have to lose?”
Enter Meek. “Reporting live from the other side / Same corner where my brothers died / Livin’ like we ain’t got care / Told my mama I ain’t dying here / 40 on me I ain’t buying beer / Ain’t have a will, now I’m flying Lear / Bunch of felons on the jet with me / Make a movie like it’s Con Air / Started off in the basement / Now it’s rooftops and LeBron there.”
While at first glance, this might be perceived as another “started from the bottom, worked my way to the top” songs, the timing (and single art) tells a different story. For the past week, millions have protested the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and Tony McDade at the hands of police. Meek seemingly has turned Trump’s “what have you got to lose” comments around, saying that what they (aka the black community) have to “lose” by protesting is 400 years of racial oppression.
“We was starvin’ for a thousand nights / Livin’ like we tryin’ to die tonight,” raps Meek. “OGs said, “you f-ckin’ the block up’ / I was mad I was tryna fight / N**** we hungry / Mama at work, daddy he dead / N**** we lonely / Stomach growlin’ like an AMG goin’ to bed / We hungry / Uzi on me, all my friends are dead / N**** we lonely / Reporting live from the other side of America.”
This is not the first time that Meek Mill has gotten political. In 2017, the rapper was famously sentenced to two-to-four years in state prison for violating his probation by riding a dirt bike in New York (and for his role in an alleged scuffle in the St. Louis airport.) This stemmed from a 2007 arrest over drug dealing and gun possession. Initially sentenced to five years of probation, the presiding judge continued to extend the period following minor violations.
A massive campaign to #FreeMeek followed, and after five months of incarceration, he was granted bail and freed in April 2018. A re-trial followed, where he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor firearm charge. Prosecutors then dismissed all charges against him. Since leaving jail, Meek has used his voice to demand prison and criminal justice reform.
This is also not the first time he shaded Donald Trump. Meek reportedly bailed on meeting with the president after he got out of prison. Meek’s decision to ditch Donald supposedly came after Jay-Z, who was at the forefront of the #FreeMeek movement, warned Mill not to.