The early returns on Meek Mill’s Championships album are that the Philly artist delivered one of his finest bodies of work yet. But he didn’t do it alone. Meek refined the album’s polish along with his engineer Anthony Cruz as well as legendary engineer Guru, who has worked with a range of bigtime acts, most notably Jay-Z. Together they formed the “frontline of the recording process,” as the duo said when they spoke with Vibe about the conception of Championships. Cruz and Guru even touched on “What’s Free” record with Jay-Z and Rick Ross in the far-reaching conversation.
Cruz said that after Meek recorded the core of the album, they realized that it had “a soulful, classic Roc-A-Fella feel,” and sought out Guru to “add his sauce” to the formula. He did exactly that, especially on “What’s Free,” the track that breathed new life into Biggie’s “What’s Beef” and explored “beef” with the music industry and criminal justice system.
The Streetrunner-produced track was conceived early in the process, with Meek and Rick Ross both falling in love with it. Cruz says that there was a point where the record was to be for Ross, though Meek said otherwise during his Breakfast Club interview. Jay-Z added his verse in the 11th hour, during a Thanksgiving weekend session where Guru delayed a trip to South Africa to head to Jay’s LA pad. But great things come with sacrifices, especially Championships.