Meek Mill faces a potential prison sentence early next year after a judge in Philadelphia found the rapper guilty of probation violations.
Common Pleas Judge Genece Brinkley said Thursday she's not sure she'll keep Mill on probation after he repeatedly ignored travel and other rules she set for him in recent years.
The 28-year-old rapper, born Robert Williams, cannot work or perform before the Feb. 5 hearing except for community service.
U.S. & World
Mill testified that he knew his "whole life is on the line" and tried to follow the rules.
Mill says he has dropped old friends from his entourage to spend time with his family and girlfriend Nicki Minaj. She was in court with him and told the judge she's working to keep Mill on the straight and narrow.
Minaj testified after a defense lawyer said the couple was seriously discussing marriage. The 33-year-old Minaj disclosed only that they were living together, but conceded she might have more influence over the rapper than his parole officer.
"She's not going to be the one sleeping alone if he goes to jail. I am," Minaj told the judge. "He's not perfect, but I can't believe how much he's changed."
Prosecutors said the 28-year-old Mill violated parole in a 2009 drug and gun case by repeatedly changing his court-approved travel schedule and ducking a drug test.
Minaj, who just received three more Grammy nominations, said she would help him stay organized and fulfill his community service requirement.
Defense lawyer Frank DeSimone called the music business chaotic and said Mill is not trying to disrespect the judge.
"He doesn't have a lot of structure. He can be irresponsible," said Minaj, who was sworn in under her birth name, Onika Maraj. "Since I've come in his life, I think I've been working on that a little bit. ... He's just getting accustomed to being an adult."
On that, Brinkley seemed to agree.
She alternately scolded, wrangled and jailed Mill while ordering him to undergo etiquette, anger management and parenting classes. She also extended his probation for years. But she feared her tactics aren't working.
"He is thumbing his nose at me," Brinkley warned as the hearing ended, "and I haven't been convinced otherwise."
"He told me last evening how he respects you," DeSimone said. "He wouldn't be who he is if you sent him to the state penitentiary in 2009. He wouldn't be Meek Mill."
Last year, a federal jury rejected a lawsuit he filed against Philadelphia police over what he called a racially-motivated, 10-hour traffic stop that led him to miss the launch party for his 2012 debut album, "Dreams & Nightmares." He has since issued a follow-up album, "Dreams Worth More Than Money," while touring and performing with Minaj, Jay Z and others.
Brinkley sent Mill back to jail for five months last year for similar violations.