Philadelphia Should Treat Meek Mill Like the Philadelphia Royalty He Is
I recently returned to the States after spending three months in Europe — primarily living in London — but also getting the chance to visit Milan, Athens, the Greek Isles, Lisbon, Porto, Madrid, Amsterdam and Berlin. While most people return from international stints with some new view on the World or an opinion on how America isn’t as good or free as people make it out to be, I actually returned from my European stint with one primary lesson learned: Philadelphians should be seeing and treating homewtown rapper, Meek Mill, like royalty. When I say “treat him like royalty,” I don’t mean by bowing at his feet, or responding to every one of his commands, but I mean treat him the way you would treat the main person who represents your sovereign on an international level.
Throughout my travels in Europe, Uber drivers, waiters, bartenders, hotel staff and others catering to their nation’s tourism economy always asked me where I’m from. My answer was always two prong — I first responded with, “I live in Los Angeles;” for which I then waited for them to expunge all their adulation for, and desire to visit, the West Coast metropolis. I then carried on with, “But I’m originally from Philadelphia. Ever heard of that?” Almost every time, without fail, if it was a young male, especially a young disenfranchised male, be it the Senegalese-British doorman in London, the Turkish-Greek bar host on the Greek Isle of Ios or the Moroccan-Dutch Uber driver in Amsterdam — I always got the same response, “Philadelphia! Yes, I’ve heard of it. Meek Mill!”
Point being, whether you like it or not, Meek Mill is Philly’s unofficial, yet culturally anointed, international ambassador. The future of Europe, when they think of Philadelphia, they don’t think about the Liberty Bell, they don’t think about Rocky, they don’t even think about cheesesteaks. What they think about is children wheelie-ing bicycles, dirt bikes and four wheelers down North, South and West Philadelphia streets. They think about the citizens struggling to make their way out of poverty. They think about the grit of the city, but how when correctly nurtured and polished, that grit can appear as shiny as Meek Mill’s newest Rolex, or Patek Phillipe.
While I think it’s extremely dangerous to have the government meddle in the creative process of artist or attempt to place subliminal messages into an artist’s creative work, I do think Philly, as a city, can help dictate the message that a young busboy in Madrid receives about the city, especially the way it treats its own disenfranchised youth. Currently Meek Mill, is and has been for close to ten years, on probation for a crime he committed at the age of 18. However, he remains to get punished for minor infractions relating to his probation (yesterday getting sentenced to two to four years in state prison), all while the citizens of Philadelphia remain mute on the situation. Let that foregoing situation involve Prince Harry and see what happens.
What citizens of Philadelphia should be doing is rallying around Meek Mill, letting the judicial system and police force know that while Philadelphians do not excuse, by any means, the crimes Meek Mill committed as a youth, Philadelphians do ask that the system realize that because of who Meek Mill is and the power and ability of his word to travel around the World, what happens to Meek Mill in Philadelphia appears to the international community as what happens to all Philadelphians. I don’t think the tribulations that Meek has experienced in the city is the exact picture Philadelphians want to be painting for the city on the international stage. Especially since many of Meek’s tribulations seem to be exacerbated, rather than alleviated, due to his celebrity status.
Imagine if Philadelphians were able to shift the conversations of Meek Mill’s music (and accompanying music videos) away from being caught up in the city’s poverty cycle and the injustices of the judicial system and towards how community members and civic leaders came out in full force to support him and recognize his transition from North Philly drug dealer to international businessman; how the city, although flawed with its high rate of poverty, was a place that instilled hope in him from a youth that he could one day be highly successful despite the adversity into which he was born; and that the city was a place that no matter what, you never stopped fighting until you made it; Philadelphia would be seen on an international level the way Philadelphians all see it on a local level: as a place where the underdog can and often does win, and when the underdog wins, he or she wins big.
Whether you like his music or not, Philly as a city needs to stand behind Meek Mill the way British Parliament stands behind the Royal Family, the way many of us as Americans stand behind the Obama family and it pains me to bring him up here, but the way the City of Toronto stands behind Drake; because just like the British Royal Family, the Obamas and Drake, Meek Mill is the international public facing figure for the City of Philadelphia, and the message that he puts out into the World is how Philadelphians are being perceived on an international level; especially by the disenfranchised youth of those nations, those who may possibly one day be the future business or political leaders of their respective nations. Do Philadelphians want them to see Philly as a city that punishes its youth who are trying to escape the circumstances of the cards being stacked against them, or do Philadelphians want them to see Philly as a city that rallies around its youth, supporting them and helping push them to the next level, often out of poverty? The choice is Philadelphia’s, and I ask it to choose wisely, but it can start by treating Meek Mill as the Philadelphia royalty that he is.
About Kirkland Alexander Lynch
Kirkland Alexander Lynch is a founding partner of Mouvement; a full-service entertainment company based in both Los Angeles, USA and London, UK; with a client roster that includes musicians Danny Jones, Dougie Poynter, MAKJ, OddKidOut and photographer Thomas Wood.
Prior to founding Mouvement, Kirkland served as Associate Director of Global Business & Legal Affairs of Universal Music Group and as an attorney in the Mergers & Acquisitions group of Debevoise & Plimpton, LLP, spending time in both its New York and London offices. Previously and partially in concurrence with his time in law school, Kirkland spent two years helping launch Astronauts Wanted: No Experience Necessary, a joint venture between Judy McGrath, ex-CEO and Chairman of MTV Networks, and Sony Music Entertainment — focusing on the curation, production and distribution of digital and social branded-content. Kirkland also worked for two years in the Financial Audit and Enterprise Risk Services department of Deloitte & Touche LLP in Los Angeles, CA, during which he received his CPA certification.
Kirkland received his J.D. degree from Harvard Law School. Kirkland also received his Master of Accounting from the University of Southern California and his undergraduate degree with Honors and Distinction from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.