PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The Philadelphia rapper Meek Mill pleaded to be released from jail Monday to resume his music career and support his son and 30-person entourage, but the judge who jailed him on a parole violation last month was unmoved.
She ordered the 27-year-old to take anger management classes for what prosecutors called a parole office "tantrum" over travel restrictions, and a Twitter rant aimed at a parole officer and prosecutor.
"I wanted him to be able to grow and get to the next level (of his career)," Common Pleas Judge Genese Brinkley said. "But I can't do that with him thumbing his nose at me."
Mill, born Robert Williams, has been on probation for about five years following a 2009 drug and gun case conviction, for which he served about a year of house arrest. He has since emerged as a gifted rapper who has been tapped to perform with Jay-Z.
But his career has been interrupted the past two years by what he considers an increasingly fraught relationship with a new parole officer.
"We never clicked 100 percent," Mill said Monday, his voice sounding ready to crack.
He has not committed any new crimes while on probation, but was flagged this year after failing a drug test and appearing to use a gun in a music video. Defense lawyer Dennis Cogan said Mill had a prescription for the OxyContin after spraining his ankle, and said the video prop was a water pistol.
He also said his client's tweets, however unwise, were protected by the First Amendment.
"You never said, 'As a condition of probation, you can't speak outside the courtroom about the district attorney or the probation officer,'" Cogan argued to the judge.
He has asked the state Supreme Court to intervene and grant bail.
A prison official, a music promoter and a professor of race relations spoke on Mill's behalf Monday, and spoke of the difficulty of growing up fatherless — Mill's father was killed when he was young — and staying out of the crosshairs of the parole system.
"It's not set up for a man to win in society — a black man," said local music promoter and mentor Charles Alstin, known as Charlie Mack.
Mill, lean, lanky and baby-faced, has been kept in protective custody at Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility, but complained Tuesday that his neighbors on the high-security block are rapists and murderers. He also questioned whether he would be able to take the required anger management class there.
Brinkley said she had called the warden last week about the plan. She agreed to rescind her protective custody order, but warned Cogan "if something happens ... it's going to be on you."
Mill released his debut album, "Dreams & Nightmares," in late 2012.
The album's launch party was delayed when Mill and three others — including an Atlantic Records executive and a police officer friend — were stopped in a Range Rover and detained by Philadelphia police for several hours. No drugs were found and no charges filed.
Meek sued the city over the arrest, but a mostly-white federal jury in Philadelphia this spring rejected the civil rights lawsuit.