Young Jeezy (@YoungJeezy) sticks out like a Barack Obama sleeping bag at a Tea Party sleepover in today’s Hip Hop landscape. The former hustler, who has built his reputation and hits on hardcore street tales, is definitely not of this world where some MC’s and video vixens wear the same pants. Being different can make for a difficult course in the music world. Can a former hustler who sells motivational speeches from the hood perspective survive without the reality show-level media hi-jinks or social media over share? If the former hustler in question is Young Jeezy that would be a yes.
The third and final chapter of the Atlanta MC’s series “Thug Motivation103: Hustlerz Ambition” reached No. 3 on the Billboard 200 charts this past December and was certified gold by January. His fans waited nearly two years for it, and it goes to show that Jeezy’s brand of hardcore has not gone unmissed by his almost cult-like fanbase. And that relationship is one that he seems to appreciate and understand.
Currently on the road in support of it, Jeezy took some time to talk with us about his love for the smaller venues, what it takes to make it and why he thinks the world will see that his newest artist Freddie Gibbs is the truth.
KillerBoomBox.com: You’re in the middle of this tour for the new album. Are you ready to take on the House Of Blues and big rooms around the country?
Young Jeezy: Yea I’ve played bigger rooms I’ve done some twenty thousand, thirty thousand seaters but I like the House of blues. It’s like 2000-3000 people in there. Its more intimate you feel me? “The 30,000 seaters you have screens, the lights and all the production and so forth. It takes away from the feeling of it. I like to be up on the crowd.
KillerBoomBox.com: You have a real deep connection with your audience, the people love you. I told people that I’m going to interview Jeezy; people are offering me money just to listen in on the interview. They get excited about you. What do you think it is that makes that connection?
Young Jeezy: You should have took that we could have split it. (Laughs). A lot of people aren’t from the streets or from the trap but they know what grinding is all about. They know what getting up early in the morning to go after a dream is like. I think it’s what I stand for too. I take my albums very seriously, my movement very seriously. You don’t gotta be in that type of lifestyle to understand and appreciate it. My fans know what grinding is all about. They know getting up being the first one early in the morning and being the last one to go to sleep.
KillerBoomBox.com: One of the artists that you’re working with, Freddie Gibbs is making a lot of noise. What was it about him that made you say, “He needs to be with us?”
Young Jeezy: Freddie’s one of the few people who have really seen it and understand what it is to be a rap artist. The pictures he paints with his verses. A lot of time when you listen to a DMX or a Big Pun or Beanie Siegel you get that hunger and that pain and I feel like Freddie is one of those cats. We talk about that all the time and that’s the thing I like about him the most. I think he’s raw as shit you know what I mean. He wants to be on top. He really wants to be the best MC and I don’t think he will stop until he’s mentioned with big names.
KillerBoomBox.com: We haven’t seen an MC from the street really get acknowledged as being the best for a minute. Do you think that in this climate where you got cats wearing leggings and some more stuff that a cat like Freddie can make it there?
Young Jeezy: This whole thing is gonna come back full circle. You got a guy like me coming from Atlanta being about the trap and everybody like “What the hell is that?” I think with Freddie the more he’s out on the road with me, he sees more I think it just opens his eyes to where it’s like “Ok now I can make these kind of records.”
I just think the world has got to see Freddie Gibbs is the truth. I go to DMX. His lyrics was really about pain. I feel like with Freddie as long as he keep doing what he’s doing and not getting caught up In what’s hot right now or what’s going on right now and keep doing Freddie. I think he’s one of the coldest cats to ever do it.
KillerBoomBox.com: When you’re looking at not only his game plan but also your game plan I could ask you the same question. How is it that you can keep your core subject matter and core honesty with your music and still navigate in this world, because again this is not the hip hop from when you came in the game.
Young Jeezy: It’s about staying true to your core; I mean we all got to grow. For me it’s about staying true to what I do and making real music, music that won’t be considered corny a few years for now. They buying into the fact that if they buy a Jeezy album [they say to themselves] “I’m gonna get some knowledge. I’m gonna figure something out. I’m gonna let it jam I’m gonna let it rock, I’m a listen to this shit enjoy how it makes me feel.”
I just think that’s what its about. When I’m doing shows I be like “Ok this works, that works.” I can see it all in their faces. I mean it’s like going to church. You know you been out there doing wrong and no matter how many people in the church you gonna feel like the preacher is talking to you. So it’s like when you come to a Jeezy show it’s the same way, you feel that connection. Because we came from the same struggle. More so now it’s like “well okay he’s still standing” look at Jay Z he’s been thru like three or four eras, that’s not easy.
KillerBoomBox.com: do you pattern your growth chart behind some of the things jay has done? Who are the examples for you?
Young Jeezy: Tupac, definitely B.I.G, I feel like they were before their time and me I feel like I’m before my time. When Thug Motivation came the world accepted it but was they really ready for it? Was they really ready for the grind and truth. I don’t care what happens to me I just want to be heard. I want ya’ll to hear what I been going through. There’s always going to be a cat that’s bigger than the last, you just gotta look at it, as that’s how the game goes. But stay true to you. I been around the world eight or nine times, I seen more than the average cat but it’s still the same thing. When you stay true to you things are always gonna stay the same cause you will evolve at the same time. Once you sell your soul to sell records its over Because when you try to become somebody you’re not it’s almost like telling a lie you gotta keep up with that lie and eventually that lie catches up with you. I feel like the cats that’s still going are the cats that kept it one hundred. They made their business moves and they always make it go further.
KillerBoomBox.com: Speaking of business moves you have a clothing line. How is that going?
Young Jeezy: Right now we are the number one urban clothing line. Ralph Lauren knows I’m coming for him. (Laughs) You know, I remember hustling for clothes. I remember being on the block trying save up to get tennis shoes by the end of the week. You know I can go in my closet and wear my own stuff. I’m packing for the tour right now and I just opened a box with like thirty different sweat suits. That’s a great feeling to be able to wear my own stuff. When I go do shows and I see all these cats in the audience with my clothes on, it’s a big deal.
KillerBoomBox.com: what’s the one piece of advice you would give somebody who’s trying to make a change in their life?
Young Jeezy: First piece of advice is believe in yourself. Be your biggest fan think like “I gotta be up early in the morning so I can be the first one”. It starts with you; I think that’s where a lot of people mess up. When you make those moves and you start to see yourself gradually grow, it’s the best feeling ‘cause you know it wasn’t easy. It all begins with believing in yourself.