On Saturday afternoon, the powers that be at Atlantic Records and Roc Nation, alongside a curated list of media, set out for Philadelphia to see Meek Mill’s Welcome Back concert at the Wells Fargo Center.
For some attendees of the trip, this was an opportunity to see one of rap’s more entertaining young talents take the stage. But for me, a 25-year-old Philly native, this was an opportunity to see Meek realize a destiny citizens of the city have long know to be true: he’s our new age golden child.
When discussing Meek’s legacy in the city, it’s important to understand it within context. The video of the 27-year-old rapper spitting audible flame emojis just 14 years earlier was only the tip of the iceberg. But it was in the following years that he’d become a citywide favorite through his contributions to Young Bob’s Headshots rap DVD series and mixtapes of his own.
Fast forward to 2015, Meek is easily Maybach Music Group’s second in command, a respected member of the rap community, and more importantly (for this night, at least), he’s Philly’s only representation on a mainstream level. He’s also the only rapper in Philly who can sell out our arena by his lonesome. All of these facts became even more apparent during the show.
A visual montage of Kevin Hart, The Roots, and even Julius “Dr. J” Erving singing praises of Meek aired before he stepped onstage to the sounds of his fire-starting street single “Monster,” on which he boasts about his rise to stardom and subsequent change of lifestyle. Needless to say that the crowd full of hometown fans and those from neighboring cities were fully dialed in, and the rap star knew it.
With a live band in tow, Meek ran through a medley of hits that included “Levels,’ which turned the crowd on its ear. Not long into the show, the rapper flexed his muscle by inviting French Montana and Lil Durk to perform tracks like their “Hot Ni**a (Remix)” verse and “This Ain’t What You Want,” respectively.
This jumpstarted a roll of guest performers that Yo Gotti, Fabolous, Jeezy, Jadakiss, DJ Khaled, and Allen Iverson.
The crowd went especially ballistic when State Property members Beanie Sigel and the Young Gunz joined Meek to give live renditions of their Roc-A-Fella classics.
At that moment, it was clear that if you were in Philly, you needed to be there.
DJ Drama presented Meek with a gold plaque for his contribution to “My Moment,” the midway point of the show.
This is when the proverbial heavens opened, and Meek performed pre-fame tracks like “In My Bag,” “Goons Gone Wild,” “Rose Red,” and more that earned him his city’s attention. It honestly felt like a trip down memory lane and reminded me (and seemingly everyone present) his music has been essential to his town’s personal narrative.
Meek’s lady, Nicki Minaj, did not make the show, as The Pinkprint Tour makes its rounds through Europe, though she was spoken for.
“Ni**as asking how I got Nicki Minaj… [Because] I’m a Philly ni**a, you heard?,” Meek said. You know, simple mathematics.
The night wouldn’t be complete without a proper appearance from Rick Ross, and, of course, a closing performance of epic proportions–the arena-rattling “Dreams & Nightmares Intro.”