Just weeks out of prison, Meek Mill debuted a song that delivered a blistering criticism of the criminal justice system at the BET Awards on Sunday night.
The song, titled “Stay Woke,” which features Miguel, is the rapper’s first new music since his release.
At the start of the performance, Meek Mill stood on a stage set up as a street corner, with neighbors milling about and children playing. As the performance and the action on stage began to build, a gaggle of performers dressed as police ran out and began arresting people.
At one point in the performance, a young black child enacted being shot in the scuffle as her grieving mother wailed on stage.
In the song, Meek Mill, who wore a sweatshirt that honored late rappers XXXTentacion and Jimmy Wopo on stage, weaves his own story with larger points about police violence.
“How can I pledge allegiance to the flag, when they killing all our sons, all our dads? I come from a place where you kill your own brother, you can brag,” he says.
And best use of his platform tonight goes to Meek Mill. #BetAwards
— Charlamagne Tha God (@cthagod) June 25, 2018
— TIDAL (@TIDAL) June 25, 2018
So happy & proud of my brother @MeekMill …..Great performance…Great message…STAND UP PHILADELPHIA!!!!!
— Kevin Hart (@KevinHart4real) June 25, 2018
At the end of the performance, Meek Mill was joined on stage by men wearing prison uniforms behind bars.
Meek Mill’s performance earned him a standing ovation from some in the audience, as well as a virtual standing-O on social media.
“So happy & proud of my brother @MeekMill,” wrote Kevin Hart, who introduced Meek Mill’s performance, on Twitter. “Great performance…Great message.”
Mill was released from prison in late April after spending nearly five months incarcerated in a controversial sentence related to a probation violation.
After his release, Mill thanked “all my public advocates for their love, support and encouragement during this difficult time,” in a statement.