Yesterday, I decided to sift through a few photography files that I had stored on my old dusty Western Digital external drive. There were photos that I hadn’t seen in years and completely forgotten about. Parties, photo shoots, and other random shots that spanned over a couple years documented a time when I struck out on my own and had a taste of the kind of world that I wanted to be a part of. The biggest moment of my freelance career has to be credited to Philly’s own Meek Mill and Charlie Mack.
The homie Mars Five called me one day to take a few pictures of Meek. He had stopped by Mars then place of residence in Queen Village in need of a few photos for his upcoming party on the Moshulu Boat, one of Philly’s waterfront hot spots. During that time, the Nikon D60 was my only camera but I managed to get the job done. I also had the opportunity to meet the Philly legend Charlie Mack, his then manager, and I can definitely admit that I was kind of starstruck because he seemed to be a God in the city. DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince’s sophomore album, He’s The DJ and I’m The Rapper was the first time that I had ever heard of him. They named a track after him titled “Charlie Mack (First Out of the Limo)” which is what everyone refers to whenever his name is mentioned.
The photos that I took of Meek that day found themselves being considered for something bigger and better than anything that I had saw for myself at the time. Mars informed me that Meek wanted to use the pictures for his feature in the August 2010 issue of XXL Magazine and I couldn’t believe it until I saw it for myself and once it came out, I thought everything was going to change for me and in a way it did. I feel like I was a head of my time with how I wanted to approach the music scene in Philly because I wanted to document everything but people weren’t there with me so I wound up being frustrated by it all. Every valley has it’s peaks.
As for Meek, it’s been interesting to see his rise from local DVD rapper to a Hip-Hop superstar. I remember low key hating when my girlfriend at the time said that she would go groupie for him. I can still remember how tight I was in the car when I heard that shit. But besides that, I wanted him to win but not only for his sake but for the city. We’ve had rappers in this city on the cusp of greatness whose livelihoods were mortally wounded by bad judgement. Beanie Sigel who was the King of Philly rap at one point went to jail before the release of his third album, The B. Coming and his career hasn’t been the same since. The same goes for Cassidy who had his fair share of issues with the law which was then followed by a serious car accident. Cassidy also found himself going to jail before the release of his sophomore album which potentially could’ve been big.
With Meek, he was on that very same path with the parole violations, beefing with Drake which spilled over into a minor beef amongst local rap crews and it disappointed me. All that I could think of was why would someone cause all this trouble for themselves when they have the opportunity of lifetime to enjoy the life that you never thought that you’d have. I thought that Drake washed him (I’m a OVO fan but whatever!) and that he caught too many losses in a short period of time but I couldn’t front on his fighting spirit. If there’s one thing about Philly, it’s a city that lives the phrase “Goonies never say die!”. We are a resilient group of curmudgeons. With that said, watching Meek’s recent interviews on Hot97 with Ebro and Angie Martinez showed that he’s regained his focus and I hope that he maintains that for his sake. I may not be a fan of his music but his success is an inspiration for those that never thought that they’d be able to leave their neighborhoods and what kind of person would I be to hate on that?