Meek Mill just released his debut album Dreams and Nightmares. But the way the young rapper tells it, his life could’ve gone in a completely different direction.

“I was 18, just turned [into] an adult when I went to jail,” he said, explaining the event that completely changed his life in MTV’s “This is How I Made It.” “I caught a case and had 57 charges. Young guys that get caught with a gun — they’re gonna automatically charge you up. All I did was walk outside with a gun.”

Meek’s time in jail made it clear to the Philadelphia emcee: he needed to change his direction in life. “In jail you ain’t got nothing to do but sit in there and think all day.”

Meek explained how his time in prison helped develop his dedication to making music. “I just [didn’t] wanna die, I [didn’t] wanna get shot or get life in jail because that’s the usual script. I ended up going about 20-something months and realized that wasn’t the place I wanted to be.”

“I really put my life into rapping,” he added. “They let me out on house arrest and the judge gave me permission to go to the studio, and that taught me another lesson because every day [I was] going straight to the studio for 12 hours straight and I started putting up six songs a day for three months straight — that’s what gave me my little jump start.”

Watch the interview below:

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