Meek Mill on effects of solitary confinement: “I’m not the same no more”

The rapper spoke about prison reform, mental health, and trauma with The New York Times Magazine.

March 07, 2019
Meek Mill on effects of solitary confinement: “I’m not the same no more” Meek Mill at the Billboard 2018 R&B Hip-Hop Power Players event. September 27, 2018.   Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Billboard

Meek Mill and his Championships song "Trauma" are featured in The New York Times Magazine for its annual Songs That Matter feature. In a wide-ranging interview conducted by Nikole Hannah-Jones, the Philadelphia rapper revealed the mental toll he suffered while under solitary confinement in prison – Mill was sentenced to two years in prison for violating his probation in November 2017, and was released in April 2018 after widespread public outcry.

ADVERTISEMENT

"Nobody can" imagine what the experience of spending 23 hours by yourself in prison is like, Mill said, before describing how solitary confinement resulted in a decline in his mental faculties. "Every time I got out, I'm like, 'yeah, I'm not the same no more.'"

I was just talking to 21 Savage in prison, and I was like, "This is the closest you’ve ever been to God in a room like this." The last time I was on 23-and-1, my lawyer came to see me, and I was like, “Did I go crazy and just don’t know I went crazy?” I started writing everything I was feeling, but when I went back and looked at it, I was spelling everything wrong, things I know how to spell. I kept blacking out in the middle of the day — not passing out, but like falling asleep. I was counting the birds on the wire: This bird’s gonna fly off in 10, 9, 8, 7. The bird don’t fly off, start over. Twenty-three and a half hours a day. Come out to take a shower, back to your cell. And I wasn’t in there for punishment — they had me on a mental block because I’m a celebrity, and they didn’t have anywhere to put me. Every time I got out, I’m like, "yeah, I’m not the same no more."

Mill also discussed childhood trauma from violence in Philadelphia ("I barely sleep from so much trauma," he said), and his ongoing prison reform efforts with JAY-Z and Robert Kraft. "I think it’s a possibility we can make a change," Mill said of the effort. The 31-year-old Meek Mill has been on probation since age 19, when he was arrested on gun and drug charges.

Meek Mill on effects of solitary confinement: “I’m not the same no more”