At last night’s BET Awards, Meek Mill set up an intense, emotion-stirring performance piece for his first new song since his recent release from prison. “Stay Woke,” which features Miguel, is a somber song about police brutality with a stage play-like treatment that sees Meek Mill rapping in front of a recreated Philadelphia street, with kids playing and adults hanging out on the corners. Miguel appears later to sing the chorus and interact with the people on the street when cops rush the stage, beating down various black men before eventually shooting them as the lights go dark and the visceral, disturbing sounds of a mother’s cry ring out.
After this harrowing moment, the song cuts back in with Meek rapping in front of a jail housing only black men. He’s wearing a black hoodie with an airbrush of XXXTentacion on the front and Jimmy Wopo on the back, commemorating two young musicians slain last week. “Stay Woke” addresses both the justice system as well as the kids who may eventually fall victim to either the system or to the streets. It’s a striking performance and a strong statement as Meek Mill’s first new music post-prison. Watch the full performance below.