Thug Motivation: Jeezy’s Ambition [Interview]
Vancouver, BC – Young Jeezy‘s years in the game have taught him how to stay grounded – in the lyrical narratives of generations past, in the struggles of his forebears, and in the choices offered by the streets. Jeezy is a motivated man who knows what he wants in a partner – both musical and romantic – and he also strives to share a legacy which will in turn offer guidance to those that come after him. HipHopCanada’s Amalia Judith sat down with the stone-faced artist to talk a little about the new album, the clothing line, and how he defines his ambition.
“I’d rather do something I love to do and that I’m good at than to be another number in the cells…”
HipHopCanada: Let’s start with a little re-cap of the tour. How has it been?
Young Jeezy: Good for the most part. This is the first stop on the Canadian leg of the tour so we’ll see what’s up with Vancouver tonight. So far the whole US part of the tour has been good, it’s fun.
HipHopCanada: So you recently released The Hustlerz Ambition: TM 103. What’s the story you’ve been telling throughout the album trilogy and how does it come to a head in Part 3?
Young Jeezy: The first album was pretty much where I came from, what I was going through at the time, how the streets was at the time. How money was plentiful, how life was easier for everybody before the streets dried up and the inspiration. What people called it was 102, which was my second album. I never really called it 102 but I guess people felt like it was. So that’s where the 102 came into place. My next album was The Recession, which I kinda took a break from the trilogy to address what was goin’ on in the world. 103 came about cause I’m on my fourth album and it was time to test the bases again and move different ‘cause the streets ain’t the same. You gotta kinda address them as if they were the graduating class so that was what the whole 103 thing was about. Like, everybody that was listening to the first album is a little older now so you gotta go at them like it’s a whole different level. Teachin’, you know what I’m sayin’. Motivation.
HipHopCanada: With all that you’ve been through in your life, has there been a major turning point that you feel has really changed you or shaped you?
Young Jeezy: Of course. When all my homies and friends started getting killed and going to prison for longer than a weekend. 20 – 30 years to be exact. It was like, either you can do this or be a statistic. I’d rather do something I love to do and that I’m good at than to be another number in the cells because I took the wrong route. So that’s what that’s about.
HipHopCanada: I was checking out your clothing line, 8732. Is it all men’s clothing or do you have a line for the ladies?
Young Jeezy: Well, I’m about to do a sunglasses line that will launch sometime this year. 8732 is basically just coming’ up and its about not really having your own but just getting to a place where you can create something for young cats out here in the streets to feel like they represent something. I actually went to the magic show in Vegas with one of my homies and he kinda turned me on to the clothing game since it was always something I wanted to get into to. From that stand point we took it from the warehouse to the number one urban clothing line in America. We just expanded from China to Japan, so its crazy.
HipHopCanada: When you talk about the people wearing the clothes and representing something I noticed on your website you use words like “loyalty”, “respect” and “honor”. How do you feel those things have defined you?
Young Jeezy: I mean those are the things I live by. Love and loyalty. It ain’t just rap at the end of the day, it’s a way of life for me and others like me and I think when you wear that, it means that. Its what you would live or die for. Its bigger than just the clothing, it’s a way of life. A lot of the cats you see at my shows wearing the clothing they really want to rock with me, they went and got fresh and spent their money on 8732 then come to the show and show me like, we wit you. That’s a big deal. Its one thing to like your music, like your way of life but to wear your clothes, that’s a whole other thing.
HipHopCanada: It seems like you have a good interaction with you fans, like you really care about them. What are some of the ways you interact with them online? What’s your Twitter game like?
Young Jeezy: My Twitter game is cool. I’ve been hitting the Instagram a lot more lately. It’s a little easier and there’s a little more to it. I ain’t one for a lot of talking. A lot of cats get into this ‘perception is reality’ game so they try to make things bigger than what they are. If you know rap and what rap music was based on its that; making things bigger than what they are. Exaggerating so to speak. When I do get on Twitter I try to say something that’s real and genuine and I’m not on it like everyday just trying to prove a point. It’s more so, if I feel a way I might tweet something. So it’s a little different because I feel like I speak through my music a lot. I’m in the streets a lot so I’d prefer to be hands on and hand-to-hand and it works. I mean, I get it. Twitter game is what it is; the new thing and you gotta deal with it but I happen to like Instagram better.
(Young Jeezy on Instagram)
HipHopCanada: Coming from a musical standpoint, what music from your roots or from your childhood really comes through strongly and has remained consistent throughout your career?
Young Jeezy: Defiantly Tupac. The whole first Cash Money movement cause that’s what we grew up on you know. Masta P, 8Ball, MJG. When it comes to soulful stuff, my grandmother, mother and Auntie used to play a lot of soulful music, you know. Al Green and things of that matter. I really listen to the words but the list goes on and on as far as stuff I grew up on. I just kinda keep that with me because I always felt like the real music was real and everything else just came and left and my mission in life is to be legendary when its all said and done. The Al Green’s and the cats like that; they legends and you can never mention music without mentioning their names. That’s what came from my roots.
HipHopCanada: On the new album you have quite a few collabs and that’s consistent with what you’ve just said because it seems like you’re going for the classics. Working with Jay-Z, Snoop, TI, Andre 3000 and people who have been around for a while. I was surprised to discover you’ve been working with Jill Scott as well. Tell us about what it was like working with her?
Young Jeezy: Jill is beautiful man; she’s really soulful. You think of Jill Scott and you think of like Sade and Maxwell and people who just stayed in their lane and just had to change with the time because they are who they are. Actually Beyoncé put me on the Jill Scott and I just felt like I wanted to do a record with her and I reached out. She was cool. Actually she wrote the record. I gave her an idea and a concept and when I got the record back it was way more than I had expected. She wrote her parts and all I had to do what do what I did and it just worked. I kinda think the record is before its time and maybe 5 or 6 years from now people will appreciate it more. Right now everybody’s partying, partying, partying and I get it but that’s a record you gotta live with and when you need it, it’s there. There’s gonna be some young cats growing up and when they realize what’s going on around them and realized they really trapped, they gonna go back to that record and be like “hmm”. Just like I do with Tupac music.
HipHopCanada: Is that how you stay grounded?
Young Jeezy: I go back and listen to it and be like “damn, he was before his time”. All the things he mentioned, all the parts of the game that I’m in, I see now. He was the one that told “women breed jealousy and envy”. I never knew how to take that until later when he was like, keep your enemies close. I just thought he was rappin’ shit that sounded good but it got the the point where that shit was real. That’s how I feel about the record; it’s real. Some kids out there going through that everyday. Take Treyvon Martin and all the things going on in his situation, you know, that’s real. That’s real like and I think sometimes we get caught up in the music and we can’t understand what’s real and what’s fake. There’s a thin line between that shit. Those ma’fuckers don’t know, they just with it.
HipHopCanada: Sounds like you’re reallys aware about your music and your community. Are there any young artists who are coming up that inspire you or push you?
Young Jeezy: As far as my movement I just signed a cat outta Indiana, Freddie Gibbs. I feel like with him, coming outta his environment and a lot of the struggles he had comin’ out of a small town, it was really below the lines of poverty and people because accustom to it and cool with it. I think his struggle was a little bit like mine was. Coming out of where I came from and being able to explain that to the world and hearing him kinda takes me back. Somebody else did go through what I went through but on a different level but it happens.
HipHopCanada: I like to end with a question I always have to ask: what’s your lady style?
Young Jeezy: Defiantly independent. She gotta be fly in some way. I just like a hustler like me, if she about an issue then she gonna go out and make some things happen. Gotta keep each other motivated. I truly believe God put men and women here to be a team. At the end of the day if you’re a good team then you reap the benefits and you live well and you do fly shit. This has always been my belief.
HipHopCanada: Great, thanks!
Interview conducted by @AmaliaJude for HipHopCanada
Photography by Bryan Mollett for HipHopCanada