In the year since his release from prison, Meek Mill has dug his heels in on matters including criminal justice reform, documentaries, and licensed sports products alongside releasing a studio album. On Tuesday afternoon, the Philadelphia rapper clinked glasses of Armand de Brignac champagne with Jay-Z to solidify a new business venture: a full-fledged record label designed to find and develop new musical talent.
Meek (real name Robert Rihmeek Williams) arrived at the Manhattan office of Jay’s Roc Nation entertainment company to ink the deal, which puts him in charge of a Roc-backed record label called Dream Chasers Records. The label will work on on talent acquisition, creative strategy and marketing, among other operations. Meek Mill had previously established Dream Chasers Records as a label imprint in 2012, then under the umbrella of Rick Ross’s Maybach Music Group; the name was taken from his well-received mixtape series Dreamchasers and that label signed a small number of up-and-coming artists such as YBS Skola and Lil Snupe. At the time, it operated mostly as an add-on to Meek’s personal music pursuits.
Speaking to Rolling Stone, the rapper says that the “extra seven years” since the original venture have given him a fresh perspective and a time to “grow in business, period.” “I think the time is now,” Meek says. “I’m 32 years old, I’m in a nice spot in the music business and I think it’s time for me to focus on growing artists because that’s what I love to do. I love to spend time on helping artists grow, and I think it’s time for me to dive in, business-wise.”
As president of the Dream Chasers label under the Roc Nation brand, Meek will oversee a team in a corporate New York office and also help operate a recording studio for the label’s artists. While the rapper noted that the label is “still in the beginning stage” and did not reveal specific signees, he hinted at forthcoming announcements later this year. Formal conversations with Roc Nation took place over the last few months, he said, but his partnership with Jay-Z — “the snowplow that made it easier for me to walk through snowstorms,” with regard to the influence of hip-hop in the broader culture — has been years in the making.
Jay-Z reiterated the strength of their relationship and added that Meek’s upbringing and career experience, which are not dissimilar to his own, have illustrated how hip-hop artists “can carry this weight for the next generation.” “We come from the same neighborhoods, we are the few who made it through,” he said to press at the signing. “That responsibility is not lost on us. We have not made it to this point to just irresponsibly live our life. It’s a responsibility we have to the entire culture.”
“The overall and overarching view is for us to boss up and do things together and pull each other up and get control of the things that we produce.” — Jay-Z on Meek Mill’s new record label at Roc Nation
Asked about the vision for Dream Chaser Records, Jay-Z emphasized Meek’s broad ambition and the limitless potential of the partnership. “Hip-hop is not just music — it’s music, it’s art, it’s fashion — so that can be applied to any silo of business,” Jay-Z tells Rolling Stone. “[Music is] just one aspect of it. That’s the pipe. The overall and overarching view is for us to boss up and do things together and pull each other up and get control of the things that we produce.”
Jay says he views the “biggest disconnect” in hip-hop’s 40-year history as the gulf between created work and compensation offered for it. He added that Roc Nation “changed that as a company, and we hope to change that as an industry as well.” Partnerships such as the one with Meek “strengthen him, and strengthen Roc Nation,” he said.
The entertainment company has added artists to its roster this year such as Jay’s longtime friend/foe/mentor Jaz-O, who joins the ranks of Rihanna, J. Cole, Vic Mensa, Belly, and more. Just this week, Roc Nation also named two new co-presidents in industry veterans Shari Bryant and Omar Grant, following the departure of several senior executives, including its label president and senior vice president of A&R earlier this year.