A Philadelphia judge has sentenced popular rapper Meek Mill to two to four years in state prison for violating probation in a nearly decade-old gun and drug case.
When sentencing the 30-year-old musician Monday, Common Pleas Judge Genece Brinkley cited a failed drug test and a failure to comply with a court order restricting his travel.
Mill, born Robert Rihmeek Williams, was convicted on drug and gun charges in 2008 but released in 2009 under a five-year parole agreement. Since then prosecutors say Mill has violated parole by repeatedly changing his court-approved travel schedule and ducking a drug test.
In 2016, Mill was ordered to serve 90 days on house arrest for violating the terms of his parole. Prosecutors described violations that included unapproved travel to New York for a benefit concert and efforts to join his then-girlfriend, rapper Nicki Minaj, in various cities. They also accused him of turning in cold water instead of urine for a drug test.
In March, Mill was accused of being involved in an altercation at an airport in St. Louis, Missouri. He was also arrested this year in New York City for reckless driving.
Monday's sentencing came as a surprise after prosecutors recommended Mill not be imprisoned for the probation violations, noting he's been clean since January and has complied with most requirements of probation.
Brinkley said the prosecutor was too new to the case to understand how Mill just "does what he wants."
Mill's attorney, Brian McMonagle, has vowed to appeal the ruling.
Fellow rapper Jay-Z, an outspoken advocate for criminal justice reform, spoke out against the judge's decision.
"The sentence handed down by the Judge — against the recommendation of the Assistant District Attorney and Probation Officer — is unjust and heavy handed," the "4:44" rapper wrote on Facebook Monday. "We will always stand by and support Meek Mill, both as he attempts to right this wrongful sentence and then in returning to his musical career."
Mill was born and raised in Philadelphia, where he became a key figure in the local hip-hop scene before gaining national recognition.
He has released three studio albums since 2012; the most recent, "Wins & Losses," peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard 200.