Rapper Meek Mill's life could be changing forever. After spending more than 10 years on probation for drug and gun charges, the Pennsylvania Superior CourtWednesday and granted him a new trial. He no longer has a criminal record.
Mill said that he was "ecstatic that justice prevailed" and said the outcome "wouldn't have been possible without the support of my family, my attorneys, and Jay-Z."
On Wednesday, "CBS This Morning" revealed a partnership between . "CBS This Morning" co-host in his hometown of Philadelphia to discuss his career, relationship with Jay-Z and decision to become a criminal justice activist.
Mill won high-profile support while serving up to a four-year sentence in 2017 for an alleged probation violation that his supporters felt was unnecessarily harsh and highlighted the subjectivity of our criminal justice system. They started the hashtag #FreeMeekMill and repeatedly protested outside the Pennsylvania prison where he was held. But the rapper told King he was at times "uncomfortable" with the #FreeMeek campaign. "I was really thinking' more of, like, free everybody that's caught in these type of situations."
"I want to go back to young Meek," King said. "What were your dreams as a kid growing up here? Where did you see yourself?" King asked.
"I always see myself, like, being successful, growin' up in a single-parent home ... I always wanted to be, like, the man in the house 'cause I lost my dad when I was young. And so growin' up, I just always felt like I should be the one that make the sacrifice to hustle, like, extremely hard to put my family in a better situation," he said. "From kindergarten, first grade, second grade, I used to be a straight-A student. I used to get straight-As, As and Bs."
Early on, Mill realized he had a knack for rapping and started entering competitions.
"I don't even think I was really, like, super good. I just was determined," he said. "Practice day after day after day and get better. And you know, there was a lot of people in my neighborhood that was actually, like, way better than me. But my drive just was, like … I feel like I worked harder than everybody."
Writing music, Mill said, came easy to him too.
"It was kind of easy for me, 'cause I was seeing' things. You know what I'm sayin'? I'm seeing' things that the average kid on the other side of America, I would say in the ghettos of America, I'm seein' things. We're seein' like so much pain and trauma. These things that you can't never forget. And, you know, I'll use music as, like, my therapy. I started writin' music and, like, just expressin' myself through pen and paper," he said.
But a lot has changed for the 32-year-old rapper. He's building a record label with perhaps the biggest name in hip-hop, Jay-Z, who also happens to be one of his heroes.
"I think Jay, like, a really smart guy. I think he one of the best to ever do it, and not just say rappin'. Like, comin' from the worst part of America to becoming a billionaire, you know what I mean? That's the thing is that we idolize the things we dream of. And things that we always thought – I always thought that was not obtainable to become a billionaire from a guy who didn't even step a foot in college, you know what I'm sayin'? And I think he's breakin' barriers for the ones that come even after me to shoot high."
Mill's label is called Dream Chasers, a phrase that's been a mantra of his for a long time. But as a kid, the idea that he could achieve anything he put his mind to went in "one ear and out the other."
"Like, you could have Martin Luther King come from the dead and have a conversation with me and try to inspire me back at the age of 15. It would go in one ear and out the other," Mill said. "That's just how rough my life was and how my thinkin' was. And I know there's kids across the world that, they think the same way ... I wanted to send a message to like people across the world. If you have a dream, you can really achieve your dream. I actually really did it and everybody desires somethin', they have a dream. And I always thought that could touch everybody in the world."
Now, Mill is living that dream he once thought was impossible and looks at the adversity he's faced as simply part of his story.
"I look at it as, 15 years from now, this'll be a part of my documentary. I hope it's a documentary on — on a great person, an icon, a person who achieved a lot. A person who made it through a lot of trials and tribulations. 'Cause you know to be an icon, to be great, you have to go through some things for people to actually view you in that way."