"He wanted to battle me!" Meek Mill laughs over the phone. The rapper just recently exchanged some lighthearted jabs over Twitter with New England Patriots receiver Chad Ochocinco, and he assures that he'd never back down from a lyrical spar. "Once he said he wanted to battle, you don't have to say that too many times for me to throw some bars at you! It was cool, all fun and games."
These days, Meek can afford a quick laugh or two. The 24-year-old spitter has become one of the most recognizable voices on rap airwaves since inking a deal with Rick Ross's Maybach Music Group in 2011. After a string of hearty verses on the crew's Self Made Vol. 1 mixtape, Meek struck gold with the blistering Rick Ross collaboration "I'm a Boss," off his own Dreamchasers release. "I've learned a lot of things from Ross," Meek says of his label head and crew leader. "It's like being on a team. You have people bring things to the table that you might not have brought to the table alone."
Meek came up on the streets of North Philadelphia, rhyming his way through the city's underground battle scene and building his presence through free mixtapes and promotional DVDs. "I was dropping mixtapes at like 16, 17, and they were doing pretty good in the neighborhood. People were always listening," he recalls. His buzz amplified by the day, and after a brief prison stint threatened to stop his momentum, Meek focused on transitioning from a battle MC to a songwriter. "I was around people that always told me, 'It's about making a song with a concept and a hook.'"
Meek's penchant for huge hooks and distinct punchlines have put him in the same circles as rap's current hitmakers, and his newest mixtape Dreamchasers 2, out today, shows distinct growth. On the Drake-collaboration "Amen" (listen below), his personality and humor burst from a blasphemous instrumental. "All I get is Frito-Lay/Plus I'm on probation, when they test me I just pee Rosé!" he quips, playing inflated hustler and class clown in the same breath.
"Amen" is probably Meek's biggest collaboration to date, but he's most excited about his work with Kendrick Lamar, the young Compton realist who Drake also pegged for his latest album. "You can expect something different," Meek says of the track, recorded in Los Angeles. "The flows, the bounce, the energy – Kendrick killed it! I like his verse better than mine."
With his humble beginnings and brash, street-bred delivery, Meek has flourished as one of rap's few voices for the everyman. Now, he says he's ready to deliver for the fans that have stood by him; along with Dreamchasers 2, his debut LP Dreams and Nightmares is set for an August 28th release. "Lyrics and beats, same as the first time around, just new material," Meek promises . "Because it's not about me being happy; it's about the people."