Meaning of “What’s Free” by Meek Mill (Ft. Jay-Z & Rick Ross)
“What’s Free” is a hip hop song by Philadelphia based rapper Meek Mill. The song features fellow American rappers Jay-Z and Rick Ross. On this track, Meek Mill and his collaborators by and large ask and define what it really means to be free. They do these based on their own experiences and understandings of the word free.
Meek starts the chorus by defining what freedom is in his eyes. Then he gives a shoutout to his homeys and expresses his desire that they “stay free”. Here, he is most likely making a reference to them avoiding incarceration as Meek himself recently did jail time. He concludes by insinuating that what most people perceive as reality is actually false and that “real life” is actually freedom.
Rick Ross’ verse has little to do with the subject of freedom and is primarily centered on the success he has experienced throughout his career. However, he does dedicate the final four bars to referencing fellow superstar rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine’s incarceration. 6ix9ine was arrested few days before this track was dropped. He was battling a bunch of grave legal issues, including racketeering and firearm charges. These charges can carry up to life imprisonment. As of the time “What’s Free” was released, 6ix9ine was in custody, fighting for his freedom in court, hoping not to spend the rest of his life prison.
Meek then picks up the gauntlet by elaborating on his own experiences with the criminal justice system and the frustrating time he spent in jail. He basically concludes that the entire institution is corrupt and biased. For instance, he expresses his frustration at authorities questioning his income even though they know he’s a highly-successful and well-connected entertainer. Thus Meek basically concludes that freedom is something the American system is designed to deny people like himself. The rest of his verse resembles that of Ricky Rozay, where he basically brags about his wealth and industry status.
In relation to freedom, Jay-Z makes a direct reference to the slavery his ancestors experienced in the early days of America. However, he then mocks the system by bragging about how much wealth he has accumulated. In fact he is so prosperous that he is setting his own standards and is not even dependent on mainstream music institutions to endorse him along the way. Instead he asserts that he himself is greater than many of these organizations. He then questions the current livelihood of African-Americans and concludes that they still are not “free”. But for him, he has personally obtained freedom not only through material wealth but also by not selling his soul to attain it, in addition to having a well-organized crew.