THE UP-AND-COMING North Philadelphia rapper known as Meek Mill and his entourage got a rap session Monday from a judge who refused to allow him to travel outside the city over the next 30 days for paying gigs.
The ruling by Common Pleas Judge Genece Brinkley means that Mill - who was born Robert Williams - will miss a concert in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. He previously had to cancel a tour of Africa, costing him $215,000, defense attorney Gary Silver said during a nearly two-hour motion hearing at the city's Criminal Justice Center.
Silver had asked Brinkley to lift her previous order restricting the rapper's ability to travel, but Assistant District Attorney Noel DeSantis strongly opposed the request.
Mill, 25, has been on probation since 2009, when he was paroled after spending about six months in jail for a 2008 conviction for drug-dealing and gun possession.
Brinkley, who presided at the rapper's nonjury trial, reminded him Monday that she could have sentenced him to five to 10 years in state prison.
In rejecting Mills' request to be able to travel to gigs over the next month, Brinkley noted that he failed to show up for a court-scheduled drug test Nov. 5, his parole officer could not always account for his whereabouts, and his management team scheduled the St. Thomas concert even after he was told at a Nov. 19 hearing not to schedule any more appearances after Dec. 16, in anticipation of Monday's ruling.
"Your travel pass is revoked," Brinkley told the rapper, who asked to be able to work to pay bills and avoid the streets.
"You just can't thumb your nose at me, and they can't thumb their nose at me and think it's OK," the judge said to Mill and officials from his record label and management firm.
"You have to manage your business a little better after today," Brinkley told the rapper, before turning her attention to his supporters. They included Julie Greenwald, chairman of Atlantic Records Group, and Alex Bethune, an official with Maybach Music Group.
"I know you probably represent a lot of people ... but you'll have to work with him in some way that he stays on top of his schedule," Brinkley said. "You all let him down this time, and I'm not happy about that."
In pleading his case, Mill told Brinkley: "My best way of staying out of jail is staying out of the streets. I got bills. I take care of my family ... I just want to work and do my job."
Prosecutor DeSantis argued that Mill is like anyone else on probation. "He is Robert Williams to this court, not Meek Mill," she snapped. "Mr. Williams wants to do what he wants to do. He wants to be where he wants to be."
Brinkley's ruling allows Mill to travel to charitable events with permission, including an appearance he had in Atlantic City on Monday night. He can travel to see family on Christmas and New Year's Day, the judge said, and after Jan. 16 he will be able to resume traveling to earn a living, the judge said.