I hate “urban music,” whether it’s rap, hip-hop, gangsta or whatever else they’re calling it these days. The brutal assault on my ears and my dignity makes me wonder what Langston Hughes, James Baldwin and Zora Neale Hurston would think of the trashy mess.
When I wrote something similar a few years ago, I got called a lot of things that would fit right in with an urban melody. I also, predictably, was labeled a racist because as everyone knows, you cannot malign rap without also wanting to repeal the 13th Amendment.
I say these things at the outset so you understand why I am perplexed that Philly rapper Meek Mill is considered special enough to warrant a rally in his honor, and a dispensation from the Pennsylvania Criminal Code. While I also don’t think Puccini, Diana Ross or Bobby Sherman should have gotten preferential treatment, at least their work product had some legitimate value beyond establishing how one properly addresses a prostitute.
If you’re not familiar with Mr. Mill (or Mr. Meek, or whatever his real name is) don’t be worried — he’s only a household name in the chambers of Judge Genece Brinkley on the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. Mill has been paying regular visits to Judge Brinkley since 2009 when he was picked up and convicted of weapons and drug charges. Now every respectable rap star has a history of drugs and weapons charges (and some like Tupac Shakur, who is still dead, have an even more spectacular criminal history) but Mill’s real problems started when he began to violate his probation and parole with respect to those charges.
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You see, this up-and-coming musical prodigy thinks he’s too important for a backwater legal system that doesn’t understand or respect his brilliance. Brinkley has warned the rapper on numerous occasions to obey the restrictions she’s set down from the bench, all of which are objectively quite reasonable and none of which involve visiting the Island of Molokai and ministering to the leper colony there.
But Mill is an “artiste” and they are above the mundane and terrestrial restrictions that apply to the rest of us who are incapable of stringing lots of obscenities together, putting them to a syncopated beat and convincing us that it’s art (as PT Barnum might have said, there’s a sucka born every minute.)
The rapper has repeatedly ignored Judge Brinkley’s orders and has scheduled concert dates which would take him out of the restricted area permitted by court-ordered conditions.
He’s also apparently gotten nasty toward his probation officer and the assistant district attorney handling his case. Just because she’s done her job (quite admirably, by the way) she’s been the object of threatening, sexist slurs. That’s not exactly breaking news from a rapper, a breed that regularly degrades women (especially and including when the “artiste” is actually a woman) but it should be enough to eliminate any sense that Mill really is repentant. That he is, in fact, “Meek.”
The rapper has attempted to justify himself by saying he supports his family with his music, such as it is, and that his inability to continue defying court orders will leave them hungry and destitute.
Right. Like he’s never heard of getting a real job waiting tables until he becomes an overnight success
Many people have suggested that sentencing Mill to three months in prison, as Brinkley did, is racist. That is chuckle-worthy, particularly since the judge, whom I know personally and greatly admire, is African American.
Others have said it’s class warfare and white suburban drug dealers get treated differently than a poor inner-city black kid who just wants to make a couple hundred grand dissing the establishment.
Frankly, that’s a joke.
Meek Mill and the idiots out there supporting his continued and flagrant disrespect for the legal system are swooning over the wrong hero.
It’s the lady in the judicial robes, meting out equal justice under the law, who really deserves their respect.
Christine M. Flowers is a lawyer and columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News.
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