The pointed placement of a billboard for Meek Mill’s new album, Expensive Pain, on the facade of the Miami Juvenile Assessment Center — a “processing referral and evaluation center” for arrested youth — was intentional.
The billboard has been up for several weeks now, with a reporter from Miami’s WLRN flagging it in a photo shared on Twitter back on September 30th (the billboard isn’t controlled by the Center, but by the outdoor advertising company Outfront Media). Considering Mill’s work as a criminal justice reform advocate, it was possible to view the placement as either a clever bit of targeted advertising, or a potentially problematic mistake.
Now, a source has cleared up the confusion, telling Rolling Stone, “Meek Mill and his team strategically placed the Expensive Pain billboard on the Miami Juvenile Assessment Center as a way to send a motivational and inspirational message for younger children trapped in the criminal justice system and give them a sense of hope.”
Mill spent over a decade trapped in the churn of the criminal justice system himself, following a 2008 arrest on drug and gun charges. He was convicted and sentenced to eight months in prison, plus five years on probation, but various low-level violations prolonged his probationary sentence. In 2017, he was hit with another two to four years in prison for a pair of non-violent offenses.
Mill’s case soon became a point of focus for criminal justice reform advocates, especially as details emerged that cast doubt on the circumstances of his original rest (including an allegation that his arresting officer gave false testimony and the questionable behavior of the judge who long oversaw his case). Mill was eventually released from prison on bail in 2018; the following year, he pleaded guilty to a single gun charge from 2007 as prosecutors dropped all other charges against him, effectively ending his 12-year legal saga.
Mill released Expensive Pain, his fifth studio album, on October 1st. The record marks the rapper’s first since 2018’s Championships, although in the three years since, he’s released a string of EPs and standalone singles, including last November’s Quarantine Pack.