Meek Mill's 'Street's Disciple' VIBE Mag Feature

All photos shot by Ysanya Perez

 From Philly’s slums to Rick Ross’ budding empire, Meek Mill’s success story could’ve had several tragic alternate endings. John Kennedy traverses the savage path of hip-hop’s next big thing

Meek Mill is driving like a madman. As the engine rumbles on his freshly tinted ink-black 2011 Dodge Challenger, the 24-year-old rapper is completely bucking the speed limit (a cautious 35mph). En route to his recording base, Batcave Studios, he zips a tight left onto Frankford Avenue, weaving around law-abiding motorists like Lewis Hamilton with the runs. Apparently, hitting 80 on a city block hardly arouses an adrenaline rush when you’ve encountered multiple life-or-death situations on the streets. As if soundtracking his native Philadelphian surroundings, Meek tunes up “Murder to Excellence,” a homicide-lamenting cut from Jay-Z and Kanye West’s collabo LP Watch The Throne. “I understand what they’re talking about. Philly likes the war life, the gun life,” says Meek, discretely referencing his own circumstances. He points out the scene of a non? ctional viral video that captures two men ? ring AK-47s at a SEPTA bus during rush hour in June, just steps away from Temple University. “Everybody’s turning to techno pop. It makes money, it’s fun. But I’m bringing that rawness back.” 

Life has been moving at a third-lane pace for Meek Mill since he signed with Rick Ross’ Maybach Music Group in February. Aligned with regional rap talents Wale, Pill, Stalley and cult R&B darling Teedra Moses, the street-certi?ed MC (born Robert Rahmeek Williams) contributed a pair of massive Ross-assisted radio hits to the label’s compilation album, MMG Presents: Self Made, Vol. 1. There was the casket-rattling “Tupac Back,” a bodacious, posturing dedication to Afeni’s baby boy. The energetic anthem “Ima Boss” blew up next—reminiscent of Notorious B.I.G.’s adrenalized pre-Ready to Die ?ows—and attracted hip-hop bigwigs Jay-Z, Diddy, Birdman and Swizz Beatz for its remix. But the lanky lyricist isn’t coat-tailing his way to fame; Meek has peaked Philly’s trigger-happy rap circuit for years with mixtapes bristling with street savvy tales, clever wordplay and lively party starters.

? Street's Disciple - Meek Mill's Oct/Nov VIBE Feature (Pg. 2)

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Lil Kim and Lil Cease reunite at the first annual B.I.G. Family Dinner at Nomo Kitchen on Tuesday, May 21, 2019.
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Lil Kim And Lil Cease Reunite, Resolve Differences At Biggie Birthday Dinner

Brooklyn rap legend and fashion icon Lil Kim started her career with The Notorious B.I.G. in the early ‘90s, and on what would’ve been the latter’s 47th birthday, Kim honored his life and reunited with her Junior M.A.F.I.A. cohorts. [ this like a dek?]

On Tuesday (May 21), Kim hosted the first annual B.I.G. Family Dinner at Nomo Kitchen, in the swanky Soho neighborhood of New York City. In a gorgeous, candle and chandelier-lit room, artists, friends, and family of Biggie laughed, ate and celebrated the career of the artist they love and who welcomed them into the music industry. Attendees included Bad Boy labelmates Styles P and Jadakiss of The LOX, Bronx lyricist and Biggie’s friend Fat Joe, fellow Brooklyn MC Fabolous, business partner and record exec Lance “Un” Rivera, Biggie’s daughter T’yanna Wallace, and all of the members of Junior M.A.F.I.A. Revered Hot 97 DJ Mister Cee, known for discovering Big, proudly hosted the evening, introducing speakers and directing traffic.

Kim and Junior M.A.F.I.A. cohort Lil Cease entered the building on the red carpet: Kim wearing a splendid, shimmering, chest-baring silver dress with a black belt on her waist, and Cease wearing a gray suit, white tee and his signature Jesus piece chain with crisp white Air Force Ones. Artist wardrobes varied: Mister Cee wore a painted Biggie tee and Styles P wore a casual linen outfit, while Jadakiss donned a white suit and Fabolous wore a black tux.

Attendees were stunned at the sight of Kim and Cease together: they were once inseparable, but Cease said that night was the first time they had seen each other in person in 13 years. But they began planning the dinner earlier this year on March 9, the anniversary of when Biggie died after being shot in a drive-by shooting in Los Angeles.

“It’s been a long time since we’ve been together on his birthday or doing any event together at all. For me, it was a spiritual awakening,” Kim told VIBE. “This was his heart. So it’s sort of for me, mending Big’s broken heart. All of us were Big, head to toe. Putting him back together is putting all of us back together.”

“I’ve been waiting on this day for years. This is somebody that held me down since B.I. passed, and somebody I knew before B.I. passed,” Cease said. “She always acted in my best interests … This was God’s timing. I’ve been trying to reach out to her for years but when God was ready for us to make it happen, He made it happen. No questions asked, no old rehashing, let’s start over from here and keep it traditional.”

“...We’d see each other, but it’d be eyes, and we’d keep it moving and do our separate things,” Cease continued. “This is the first time we’re literally face to face. We’ve been speaking since March, but this is the energy of back in the 90s.

Kim and Cease had a strained relationship since the mid-2000s, when Kim served a one-year prison sentence after being convicted of perjury and conspiracy for lying to a federal grand jury about her and her fellow Junior M.A.F.I.A. members’ involvement in a shooting outside of the Hot 97 studios. Kim testified that she didn’t know that Damion “D-Roc” Butler and Suif “Gutta” Jackson were at the scene, but both of them still served prison time as a result of the shooting. Butler and Jackson were both seats away from Kim and Cease at the dinner table on Tuesday.

During Cease’s speech at the dinner table, he explained how he moved in with Kim after Biggie died and apologized for the falling out of their friendship.

“I apologize for things I may have done that may have hurt you or affected you or made you feel bad,” he said. “I genuinely apologize, and I love you from the bottom of my heart. I thank you for bringing this energy here.”

“...This lets you know God is real. Sometimes you may not expect it to come but when it does, embrace it, be ready for it, and make sure your energy is right for it,” Cease told the crowd. “My energy was right for it. She read that from me, and that’s why she spoke to me. I hit her randomly one day, and she texted me back, I’m like ‘oh sh*t.’”

Kim was mum to VIBE on the details of a potential Junior M.A.F.I.A. reunion. “Just wait and see. I’ve got some special things planned, don’t worry. I can’t tell you nothing right now,” she said. But Lance “Un” Rivera gave the members a mission when he was given the mic.

“This is the beginning. Junior M.A.F.I.A. in one room. Everybody who was a part of it,” Rivera said. “What I want you guys to do is make this the official day that you all take back. ...You guys have to claim your rightful spot.”

Kim and Cease also spoke to VIBE about a long-lasting hip-hop debate: what’s the better album, Ready To Die or Life After Death? Cease chose the former.

“I have a personal thing for Ready To Die. That was the birth. It was him at his prime, raw, still young and fresh. That’s what opened the gate. I grasp that more because aside from him being my friend, for me to be a fan and be young, I was super high and excited.

Kim chose his double disc classic.

“Life After Death is the one where we all knew it was going solidified everybody. We were so proud of that album, that was special because we knew that was going to be the one who solidified who we were because it solidified who he was. … It was a double disc, and the more music I get from him, the better.

When asked about Biggie’s most slept on verses, Kim chose “You Can’t Stop The Reign” with Shaquille O’Neal - “I feel like not too many people know about that verse,” she said - and his verse with Michael Jackson on "This Time Around." Cease chose the second verse on “Everyday Struggle” and the third verse on “Niggas Bleed” as his favs.

The event also included a live painting, dueling violinists and a flutist playing over Biggie instrumentals, and comments by the aforementioned artists. The night ended with a reveal of the cover of 9, Lil Kim’s long-awaited upcoming solo album and her first since 2005's The Naked Truth.

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Jamaican Artist Shenseea Signs With Interscope, Drops New Song With Tyga

Jamaican-bred dancehall artist Shenseea is now an Interscope Records signee. The 22-year-old Kingston transplant, who has worked with artists such as Vybz Kartel and Shaggy, has been making waves with her infectious dancehall tunes, and with a debut album in the works, it looks like nothing is slowing her down.

“Interscope always strives to work with artists that can move culture on a global scale. Shenseea is already doing that,” Interscope’s EVP Joie Manda says of the fireball artist. “She represents Jamaica in a loud and truly authentic voice. We couldn’t be any more pleased to partner with her and Rvssian. Many artists go to Jamaica to learn culture, Shenseea teaches it.”

Today (May 22), Shenseea released her new single “Blessed” featuring Tyga. The bass-heavy track was produced by Rvssian, and is dripping with energy as the rising star oozes self-confidence from start to finish.

“Look in the mirror say ‘b**ch I’m the best,’” she urges her listeners to tell themselves. The video itself (directed by Arrad) is as vibrant as the song, featuring fast cars, people dancing and celebrating their beautiful lives.

“I’ve always shared my gratitude to God and my supporters, I am blessed and grateful for them; and I think this song expresses that, not only for me but for others too,” Shenseea says of the song. “It’s an empowering and confident song for everybody, I hope my fans will hear this and learn to love themselves for who they are and reflect more on their blessings all while enjoying the sound of good music.”

Watch the video below.

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2019 Bronx Book Festival Unveils Exciting Schedule

Beginning June 8, literary supporters will be able to indulge in a series of diverse panels that'll highlight books and passages essential to everyday life. The Bronx Book Festival's series of events, scheduled to take place at Fordham Plaza & Fordham University, features authors from different genres gathering in one area to discuss publishing, mental health in writing, and young adult novels.

Take a look at the festival's schedule below and register for the free event here.


Panel: Publishing Debunked Time: 11:00 AM – 11:45 AM Location: Fordham Plaza Main Stage Panelists: Norma Perez-Hernandez (Assistant Editor at Kensington), Joshunda Sanders (I Can Write The World), Queressa Robinson (Literary Agent at Nelson Literary Agency), Alexis Daria (Take the Lead) Moderator: Saraciea J. Fennell, founder of The Bronx is Reading Description: Join editors, agents, and authors from the Bronx as they debunk the publishing industry for Bronxites. Signing: 11:45 AM – 12:15 PM

Panel: Indie Power Hour Time: 12:00 PM – 12:45 PM Location: Fordham Plaza Main Stage Description: Join three Bronx-based indie authors as they read from their current works. Readers include Joshunda Sanders (I Can Write The World), Josue Caceres (Bronx Stories & Heartbreak), Yajaira Eduardo (If at First You Don’t Succeed)

Panel: Seeds & Roots: Community (re)Building in Fiction Time: 1:00 PM – 1:45 PM Location: Fordham Plaza Main Stage Panelists: Wayétu Moore (She Would Be King), K Arsenault Rivera (The Phoenix Empress), Darnell L. Moore (No Ashes in the Fire) Moderator: Stephanie Jimenez (They Could Have Named Her Anything) Description: How do we reconcile the injustices of our world with our fears, hopes, and dreams? The notion of planting seeds and putting down roots constantly emerges in fiction but which themes require a new perspective and which themes are everlasting? Writers will come together to talk about how their work exposes the ways that we build community - whether through heartbreak and healing in relationships, spiritual awakening, or retelling the births of our nations. Signing: 1:45 PM – 2:15 PM

Panel: Monsters and Transformation in SFF Time: 2:00 PM – 2:45 PM Location: Fordham Plaza Main Stage Panelists: Wayétu Moore (She Would Be King), Tochi Onyebuchi (Riot Baby), Katharine Duckett (Miranda in Milan), K Arsenault Rivera (The Phoenix Empress) Moderator: Ruoxi Chen, Assistant Editor at Publishing Description: From the creature from the Black Lagoon to Dracula, monsters have been a core part of science fiction & fantasy since the inception of the genre. But what makes a monster? Is it magic, science-gone-wrong, or something else entirely? What transforms something—or someone—into a terrifying entity? Is it possible that one person's monster is another person's miracle? Join authors Tochi Onyebuchi (Riot Baby and War Girls), Katharine Duckett (Miranda in Milan), K. Arsenault Rivera (The Tiger's Daughter), and Wayétu Moore (She Who Would Be King) as they discuss all things monstrous—and geek out over their favorite monsters from SFF literature. Moderated by Ruoxi Chen, part of Publishing editorial staff. Signing: 2:45 PM - 3:15 PM

Panel: Romance 101 Time: 3:00 PM – 3:45 PM Location: Fordham Plaza Main Stage Panelists: Adriana Herrera (American Dreamer), Alexis Daria (Take the Lead), Tia Williams (The Perfect Find) Moderator: Norma Perez-Hernandez, Assistant Editor at Kensington Description: Why love? Writers discuss why they're drawn to stories of love and romance, particularly in a political climate of hate and violence. How do writers let their guards down so that their characters and their readers experience the ups and downs of love? Signing: 3:45 PM – 4:15 PM

Panel: Your Block, My Block: Setting the Stage in Literature Time: 5:00 PM – 5:45 PM Location: Fordham Plaza Main Stage Panelists: Richie Narvarro (Hipster Death Rattle), Sarina Prabasi (The Coffeehouse Resistance: Brewing Hope in Desperate Times), Lisa Ko (The Leavers) Moderator: Angie Cruz (Dominicana) Description: The "city" is often synonymous with Manhattan, 42nd Street, Herald Square. But what other spaces in NYC open up new conceptions of what it means to survive and thrive in "the city that never sleeps." Writers will convene to discuss the significance of essential city moments in their works. What are some of the joys and challenges of writing about NYC? What do authors fear they may get wrong? What are the payoffs of getting it right? How does setting connect readers to the works' fictional characters? Signing: 5:45 AM – 6:15 PM


Time: 9:00 AM – 10:00 AM Location: Young Readers Stage Activity Hour / Scholastic Giveaways & Photo Op w/ Dog Man

Time: 10:00 AM – 10:30 AM Location: Young Readers Stage Author/Illustrator: Alvin Arby (Gross Greg) Description: Join Alvin Arby, founder and Chief Reading Inspirer of Barbershop Books, and winner of the National Book Foundation Innovations in Reading Prize as he reads from his picture book Gross Greg. Signing: 10:30 AM – 11:00 AM

Time: 10:30 AM – 11:00 AM Location: Young Readers Stage Author/Illustrator: Sulma Arzu-Brown (Bad Hair Does Not Exist/Pelo Malo No Existe) Description: Join Bronx-based Garifuna author, Sulma Arzu-Brown as she reads from her picture book Bad Hair Does Not Exist/Pelo Malo No Existe in English and in Spanish. Signing: 11:00 AM – 11:30 AM

Time: 11:00 AM – 11:30 AM Location: Young Readers Stage Author/Illustrator: Anika Aldamuy Denise (Planting Stories / Sembrando Historias) Description: Join Anika Aldamuy Denise as she reads from her picture book Planting Stories in English and in Spanish. Signing: 11:30 AM – 12:00 PM

Panel: Battle of the Cartoonist Time: 11:30 AM - 12:15 PM Location: Young Readers Stage Panelists: Booki Vivat (Frazzled #3), Kristen Gudsnuk (Making Friends), Jerry Craft (New Kid), Mike Cavallaro (Nico Bravo and the Hound of Hades) Description: Join illustrators and cartoonists as they team up and battle it out to see which cartoonist is the best. Signing: 12:15 PM - 12:45 PM

Time: 12:15 PM - 1:00 PM Location: Young Readers Stage Activity Hour / Scholastic Giveaways & Photo Op w/ Dog Man

Panel: Las Musas Presents: Expanding The Face of Latinx Kid Lit Time: 1:00 PM – 1:45 PM Location: Fordham Plaza Young Readers Stage Panelists: Emma Otheguy (Silver Meadows), Sulma Arzu-Brown (Bad Hair Does Not Exist/Pelo Malo No Existe), Mia Garcia (The Resolutions) Moderator: Torrey Maldonado (Tight) Description: The Latinx community spans over 52 million people in the US alone, but in 2017 only 5.8% of the children's books published featured Latinx characters. Las Musas was formed as a way to uplift debut Latinx voices writing in the fields of picture book, middle grade and YA. Join these authors as they discuss their voice, Latinx literature, and what’s next. Signing: 1:45 PM – 2:15 PM

Panel: I Got This: Believing in Yourself and Overcoming Adversity Time: 2:00 PM – 2:45 PM Location: Fordham Plaza Young Readers Stage Panelists: Kristen Gudsnuk (Making Friends), Booki Vivat (Frazzled#3: Minor Incidents and Absolute Uncertainties), Jerry Craft (New Kid), Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich (Two Naomis and Hero Next Door) Moderator: Ellen Oh (Founder, We Need Diverse Books) Description: Standing up for yourself, navigating new friends, and never giving up hope in yourself and others are all important aspects of growing up. The struggles of these characters are both written and illustrated for readers. Join as these authors discuss the importance of bravery, self-confidence, friendships, and more. Signing: 2:45 PM – 3: 15 PM

Panel: Sketch, Draw, Ink, Repeat. Time: 3:00 PM – 3:45 PM Location: Fordham Plaza Young Readers Stage Panelists: Mike Cavallaro (Nico Bravo and the Hound of Hades), George O’Connor (Hephaistos), Kristen Gudsnuk (Making Friends), Booki Vivat (Frazzled#3: Minor Incidents and Absolute Uncertainties) Moderator: Alex Rivera, The Bronxer Description: Join graphic novelists and illustrators as they discuss the ins and outs of graphic novel publishing, sketch techniques, and what it’s really like being an artist. Signing: 3:45 PM – 4:15 PM

Panel: Journeys That Change Us Time: 4:00 PM – 4:45 PM Location: Fordham Plaza Young Readers Stage Panelists: Kheryn Callender (Hurricane Child), Torrey Maldonado (Tight), Carlos Hernandez (Sal & Gabi Break The Universe), Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich (Two Naomis) Moderator: Natasha Diaz (Color Me In) Description: The characters in these middle-grade books are embarking on journeys filled with new challenges, tough choices, and even harder obstacles whether fantastical or realistic. Join as as these authors discuss their latest books and their own journeys. Signing: 4:45 PM – 5:15 PM


MORNING KEYNOTE Time: 10:00 AM – 10:45 AM Location: Fordham University Young Adult Stage Speaker: To Be Announced Signing: 10:45 AM – 11:15 AM

Panel: Swoon Reads Presents: Finding Your Voice in Contemporary YA Time: 11:00 AM – 11:45 AM Location: Fordham University Young Adult Stage Panelists: Kristina Forest (I Wanna Be Where You Are), Claire Kann (If It Makes You Happy), Colleen AF Venable (Kiss Number 8), Sandy Hall (A Prom to Remember) Moderator: Ashley Woodfolk Description: Sometimes the hardest part of writing is nailing the many facets of a novel’s voice. In this panel, four contemporary YA authors discuss the best ways to discover and create a realistic teen experience through dialogue, narration, and a character’s most intimate thoughts. From small town stardom, to a series of messy kisses, to teen milestones (like prom and unforgettable road trips), these authors are experts at bringing their characters to life on the page. Signing: 11:45 AM – 12:15 PM

Time: 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM Location: Fordham University Young Adult Stage Activity Hour / NIKE Sponsored event

AFTERNOON KEYNOTE Time: 1:00 PM – 1:45 PM Location: Fordham University Young Adult Stage Speaker: Lilliam Rivera (Dealing in Dreams) Description: Lilliam Rivera will be in conversation with Founder, Saraciea J. Fennell Signing: 1:45 PM – 2:20 PM

Panel: #SquadGoals: Radical Friendships, Love and Belonging Time: 2:00 PM – 2:45 PM Location: Fordham University Young Adult Stage Panelists: Mia Garcia (The Resolutions), Nic Stone (Odd One Out), Justin A. Reynolds (Opposite of Always), Kheryn Callender (This Kind of an Epic Love Story), Claire Kann (If It Makes You Happy) Moderator: Mark Oshiro (Anger is a Gift) Description: In these YA novels, writing and reading about intimacy and friendship for marginalized communities is a radical act. Join as the authors, discuss how love, friendship, and belonging are so clearly intertwined during some of the most tumultuous years of teens’ lives. Signing: 2:45 PM – 3: 15 PM

Panel: Reclaiming Sci-Fi/Fantasy: Imagining New Worlds Time: 3:00 PM – 3:45 PM Location: Fordham University Young Adult Stage Panelists: Tochi Onyebuchi (Crown of Thunder), Ellen Oh (A Thousand Beginnings and Endings), K Arsenault Rivera (The Phoenix Empress) Moderator: Kat Cho (Wicked Fox) Description: While the space of young adult fantasy and science-fiction has long been dominated by predominantly white authors, there has been an incredible shift thanks to diverse voices being lifted up. In this panel, you’ll meet some of the amazing authors who are reclaiming the genres and infusing them with their own cultures that create new, exciting, and magical worlds. Signing: 3:45 PM – 4:15 PM

Panel: Mapping Mental Health Time: 4:00 PM – 4:45 PM Location: Fordham University Young Adult Stage Panelists: Mark Oshiro (Anger is a Gift), Emily X. R. Pan (The Astonishing Color of After), Erika Sanchez (I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter), Ashley Woodfolk (The Beauty that Remains), Moderator: Alex Villasante (The Grief Keeper) Description: Grief and trauma affect us all in ways we might never have imagined, appearing in ways that can be confusing to pin down. So what does it mean to put it on the page? From depression and anxiety to panic attacks and suicide, these writers pen characters that work their way through, and live with, experiences still shrouded in stigma. Join them as they discuss how their approach to writing about mental health and honoring their characters’ journeys with it confronts that stigma. Signing: 4:45 PM – 5:15 PM

Panel: #ItsComplicated: Tackling Social & Family Issues in YA Time: 5:00 PM – 5:45 PM Location: Fordham University Young Adult Stage Panelists: Sara Farizan (Here I Stay), Alex Villasante (The Grief Keeper), Tiffany D. Jackson (Monday’s Not Coming, Let Me Hear a Rhyme), Nic Stone (Dear Martin, Odd One Out) Moderator: Kay Blake, Founder of Bookish Brown Girls Description: These young adult novels tackle the complexities of social and familial issues of diverse teens. From the quickly-evolving gentrification of neighborhoods, to the lack of attention to missing Black girls, and Islamophobia. Join as these three authors discuss the teen protagonists in their novels and the issues they, and real teens of color, face. Signing: 5:45 PM – 6:15 PM

Time: 5:00 PM – 6:00 PM Location: Fordham University Young Adult Stage Activity Hour / NIKE Sponsored event

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