A lot has changed for Meek Mill over the course of the past year. In November 2017, the Philly rapper was sentenced for two to four years in state prison for violating probation in a nearly 10-year-old drug and gun case. #FreeMeek subsequently became the focus of a national conversation regarding the criminal justice system. In April, he was released and granted bail. “While the past five months have been a nightmare, the prayers, visits, calls, letters and rallies have helped me stay positive,” he said in a statement. His budding advocacy efforts are now fueled by a desire to give back to the community that stood by him. During a recent appearance on CNN, Meek spoke candidly about prison reform and how formerly incarcerated people are “trapped inside a system that’s extremely hard for us to get out (of).” He also honed in on how certain elements of the criminal justice system target marginalized people. "It's keeping many young black men caught up in the system without even committing crimes."

Meek never expected to be the underdog. His “Dreams & Nightmares (Intro)” was the soundtrack to his hometown of Philly. He dated international popstar Nicki Minaj and “did shit with Mariah.” But when his world began to crumble around him beginning in 2015, his demise seemed almost improbable. It certainly wasn’t what he envisioned when he burst onto the mainstream scene in 2011 after signing to Rick RossMaybach Music Group label. In the aftermath of his release from the Chester, PA State Correctional Institution, he very easily could have recoiled from the political spotlight. With the odds stacked against him, it seems unlikely that anyone would’ve overtly chastised him if he’d chosen to role over and play the victim. Instead, he rose above adversity and emerged on the other side more resilient and focused than ever. The product of his efforts was Championships, an album on which he finally regained his voice and which proved to be the bookend to his darkest hour.

On Sunday night, as a dull drizzle seemed to pulsate amidst the flashing frenzy of Times Square, Meek sat down with Elliott Wilson as part of #CRWN, a live interview series distributed through TIDAL. The conversation added a new dimension to an album that showcased his growth as an artist and as a man. Here’s what stood out.