Meek Mill debuted a powerful new song titled “Stay Woke” Sunday night at the BET Awards, the rapper’s first music since he was released from prison in April. Following the performance, Meek Mill shared the studio version of the Miguel-featuring track.
The track opens with the rapper interpolating the socially-conscious 1982 rap classic Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five’s “The Message.” Meek Mill tackles an array of heavy topics, including police brutality, his own legal troubles and standing for the National Anthem.
“We scream ‘Black Lives Matter’ but we’re still toting ladders / Watching our own brothers trying to get at us / Dreams get shattered when a scene full of crackers and they charge you with some shit you ain’t do,” Meek Mill says on the opening verse, addressing violence in the African-American community and an unjust court system.”
Meek Mill addresses his own brushes with “the game” and the law. “I was heading for the slammer / I was planting all the seeds for them to bury me / I had my whole family mad at me / Fell deep in love with the game and it married me,” the rapper says. “Judge said ‘I’ll give you a second chance, just don’t embarrass me.”
The rapper later asks, “How can I stand allegiance for the flag when they killing all our sons and our dads?”
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During the BET performance, Meek Mill wore a hoodie that paid tribute to a pair of recently murdered rappers, XXXTentacion and Pittsburgh’s Jimmy Wopo.
Hear the studio version of “Stay Woke” below: