New York City’s Legacy Records was home to Billboard‘s R&B/Hip-Hop Power Players event on Thursday (Sept. 27), where the brand honored Philadelphia rapper Meek Mill. Months after his release from state prison for a probation violation, the “Amen” artist received the Impact Award for his social justice prowess this year.
“This time when I went to prison a lot of people stood up for me and a lot of people stuck their necks out for me at my roughest time in life,” he said after Van Jones’ introductory speech. “So I thought it was only right if I use some of my platform and my power to actually reach back and help the people that stood up for me in my worst times.”
Since his release, the 31-year-old artist has used his stage time to highlight prison reform and the perils of the country’s parole system. In an interview with Jason Flom’s “Wrongful Conviction” podcast, the father-of-one described how his life has forever changed since he was first arrested.
“At 18 years old I was caught up in that system,” Mill said. “Even though I’ve been on the path ever since of doing spectacular in my life and where I come from, that same system is still haunting me and hawking me down even at the age of 31, and having a record deal and being able to handle business and work. It’s still haunting me, to pull me back to the same system where I just left 11 years ago.”