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TRU to himself: Meekz on becoming a defining voice within British rap

Born and raised in Manchester, rapper Meekz talks to Rolling Stone UK about why his roots mean so much, his new mixtape TRU, and the prospect of removing his mask

By Emmanuel Onapa


In a triumphant comeback moment in early April, rapper Meekz orchestrated a surprise Robin Hood-like performance through a community giveback to his fervent following in his home city of Manchester. Perched atop a green container next to the Peel Monument in the city’s Piccadilly Circus, wearing a grey tracksuit as well as his iconic mask, Meekz showered the assembled crowd with Nike Air Max 90 trainers before performing two songs, igniting a frenzy of excitement and anticipation among the fans who gathered.    

“I initially planned to give away some actual clothing, but I didn’t have the chance or the time. Everything was moving that fast,” recalls Meekz. In essence, this community-centric approach was no random act of altruism; it was a ritualistic homage to his origins, a gesture of gratitude to the community that raised him and which continues to nurture his ascent in the scene. Each pair of trainers was a token of appreciation, a silent vow to remain tethered to the streets he grew up on.  

“It just made a lot of sense for me to do that. I still got some bits and bobs to give away to the peopledem,” he says when we meet for his Rolling Stone UK interview, days after he released his new single, ‘Mini Me’s’, and announced his sophomore mixtape, TRU, set for release on 24 May. 

Before going on hiatus, Meekz etched his name in the archives of British rap with a string of noticeable releases that captivated audiences far and wide. From the resounding success of EP Can’t Stop Won’t Stop in 2020 to the seismic impact of his debut mixtape Respect the Come Up in 2022, Meekz emerged as a formidable force, with a sound defined by razor-sharp lyricism and larger-than-life confidence.  


As he prepares to unveil his latest project, Meekz stands at the threshold of a new chapter. During our chat, the rapper reveals a vulnerable, honest side to him that fans are not privy to seeing. He speaks candidly about how his perspective has shifted since his earlier work, and he is frank in acknowledging the slippery slope between artistic integrity and public expectations. 

“Last time, I was probably thinking about the people rather than what I wanted,” he muses, his words tinged with an air of contemplation and reflection. “But this time around, I’m more open to do what I want to do and [to] experiment. I’m not worried about opinions.”  

With his creative vision duly unfettered by the constraints of convention and his spirit unbound, TRU sees Meekz invite listeners on his journey of self-discovery. It is a tribute to the power of music in illuminating the depths of his real-life experiences. For the rap artist, its title embodies the intangible essence of family legacy and lineage. “The word ‘Tru’, I had it tattooed on me when I was 14,” says Meekz. “One of my family members got it on their gravestone, and my uncle used to send me letters years ago from a bad place and he used to put TRU at the bottom of the letters. It’s all just about where I come from and where I’m going.”  

Meekz is from Gorton, a part of Manchester that is considered forgotten, left behind and neglected. But he also spent a lot of his time in the inner-city suburb of Harpurhey, which tends to be left out of his come-up story. “Because I spent most of my life in Harpurhey, you’ve got to big that up,” he says, as he reflects on his upbringing. “I can appreciate the fact that I’m in a new place now. I’ve been blessed and I always have to respect the come up.”  

If his generosity to fans at his appearance in April is one piece of evidence of how much Manchester means to him, one of the tracks on TRU, ‘Manny’, is another. Specially created for his home city, Meekz wants it to be an anthem. In a revelation that illuminates the mixtape, Meekz speaks of the profound impact of Ja Rule’s timeless ‘New York’, which he samples on the track. He talks reverentially about the transformative power of New York’s cultural influence as a vibrant hub of music, fashion and unbridled creativity. He says that he aims to take a page out of the city’s book through his music.  

“The whole world looks at New York as an inspiring place,” he says. “From the clothing to the music to the videos, artists that have come from there, time and time again, are global,” he says, his tone infused with a palpable sense of urgency. “But why hasn’t Manchester got that record similar to Ja Rule’s ‘New York’ that’s like, just our record, you get what I’m saying?”  

Meekz’s vision is for ‘Manny’ to transcend geographical boundaries. “Before this record was even out, it was tried and tested in every single club in Manchester and London, with the likes of Marcus Rushford and Jesse Lingard. It’s been everywhere and it’s had a great reception,” he says. 

Meekz’s current release, ‘Mini Me’s’, finds him thinking about the impact of his music on others and the intricate dance between inspiration and imitation. “I’ve inspired a lot of people to want to be like me, in the sense of like, it’s not always a bad thing,” he admits proudly. “I’ve got kids that dress up as me to go to school on World Book Day and stuff. Not going to mention any names, but there are a lot of rappers who have used similar ideas as me in their videos and used my style of filming to the exact point — so there are many ways the song ‘Mini Me’s’ makes a lot of sense.” 

For all his departure from his earlier work, one aspect of Meekz remains the same: his mask. In a society obsessed with celebrity culture, Meekz’s decision to conceal his face is a radical act of defiance, a rejection of the superficial trappings of fame in favour of substance and depth. But it wasn’t until Meekz spoke with the respected late fashion designer Virgil Abloh that he began to consider emerging from the shadows of anonymity. “When Virgil Abloh was alive, he said, ‘Wow, I can’t believe you hide your face from the world. We need to work our way to introduce your face to the world,’” he recalls. 

Despite the unknown having both its benefits and its disadvantages, Meekz wants his face reveal to be done creatively. “I’ve had people who have cared and not just said ‘Take your mask off.’ They’ve had ideas and were in a position to help, in a position where they could shed some light on [it] in a different way and make it an amazing moment,” says Meekz, whose mask, at the time of writing, remains in place. 

As he dwells on the future, Meekz’s vision is imbued with a profound sense of meaning, intention and desire to impart wisdom and ignite inspiration in the hearts of his listeners. “Everyone doesn’t understand that being true to yourself is very important,” he says, emphasising that authenticity is integral to every meaningful artistic journey.   

“Sometimes there’s truth within the lie, but I don’t like to make stories and paint pictures — like, a lot of these are just true stories. There’s a lot of movies being told here.”