Let me introduce you to Meek Mill.
Robert Rihmeek Williams, aka Meek Mill, was born in 1987 in Philadelphia. He began rapping in 2001, and he’s zigzagged through legal difficulties involving drugs, guns and parole violations almost ever since.
Mill’s definitely dealt with some serious charges. But he’s also been, in the eyes of many, treated quite severely by the legal system for what most see as petty parole violations, “including popping a wheelie without wearing a helmet,” writes Rolling Stone contributor Kory Grow. Along the way, Mill has become known as an advocate for legal reform as well as a voice for troubled youth growing up in underserved communities.
Mill’s legal struggles, combined with his determination to succeed, show up as the main themes on his latest track, “Believe.” Featuring Justin Timberlake, this song finds Mill declaring that he will pray to God for perseverance and encourage those around him as he moves forward.
Justin Timberlake begins with the song’s chorus, declaring that it’s possible for all people to make it through difficult circumstances with their souls intact: “I still believe, still believe in you and me/… Put my face in the dirt on the ground/Still, I raise up to take back the crown, yes/You can break my body/But you can’t lock the soul of a man down.”
Mill’s voice encourages others to be strong, too. But he recognizes that hard times can feel suffocating and hopeless. Mill details some of the difficult things he and others wrestling with injustice have faced, including an unfair prison sentence (“Made me some commas, judge still gave me a sentence”), poverty (“Welfare baby, we workin’ with what they give us”), failure (“In the school of failure, we present, perfect attendance”) and drug addiction (“Follow your dreams, not your addictions”).
Mill attributes his success to prayer (“Thank God you believe, make sure you pray when you kneel”), an increase in knowledge (“Play your part, got some brains like the scarecrow”) and believing in yourself no matter what others think (“Say ‘I believe in myself’/When everybody stop believin’, never leave on yourself/They had my back against the way, I had to lean on myself”).
The song’s video features Mill and Timberlake teaming up to illustrate the song’s themes in some powerful ways.
Set in the inner city, a father is taken to prison while his family is left to deal with the aftermath of his arrest. One family member overdoses but survives, and together the family presses forward toward healing. In the end, the family is reunited, having overcome a seemingly hopeless situation.
The words and images here speak volumes. And they’re solidified by a reading at the end that draws from Jesus’ words in Luke 21:25-28:
“There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish at the roaring and tossing of the sea. People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what will come of the world. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift your heads, because your redemption is coming.”
Kristin Smith joined the Plugged In team in 2017. Formerly a Spanish and English teacher, Kristin loves reading literature and eating authentic Mexican tacos. She and her husband, Eddy, love raising their children Judah and Selah. Kristin also has a deep affection for coffee, music, her dog (Cali) and cat (Aslan).