In 2008, many people are witnessing history unfold before their eyes as hints of racism, economic deficiency, and competitive political strategies surface. The state of the country has stimulated hip-hop social commentaries in the classic form of music, and rappers have been no stranger to using their voice to alert their audience to seek change in their environment.
With his album, The Recession, Young Jeezy has found his place in the industry to vocalize his concerns the way others have bravely done in the past. Time has provided the Snowman growth and understanding of worldly issues, as he found inspiration through Nas and Ice Cube who have been known their entire career to speak out on the real issues. The album has become a representation of his position within his community, and shows his hands-on involvement with Atlanta. Jeezy literally puts on for his city.
With so many issues to cover, Young Jeezy spoke candidly with BallerStatus about getting his record cleared to vote, the mind state of his album, Michael Phelps, his new site, confidence in Barack Obama, and how he really feels about Fox News.
BallerStatus.com: So The Recession is out today. Tell us what is the album about?
Young Jeezy: The album is pretty much what I do -- the Thug Motivation. But, I just wanted to drop some seeds as far as the recession is concerned and how it's affected me and the people around me. I didn't want it to be a depressing album, I wanted it to be more so like anthems to get you through the day. You might hear a little political stuff here and there, but it's mostly what I do: that feel good, get in my car, get up out my bed, put it on my CD player, put it on my iPod, get out and go get it music.
BallerStatus.com: Who were some of the producers you worked with on this album?
Young Jeezy: It's good you asked that, it's like, I kept it in recession mode. I did it with the cats that were the hungriest like myself, Shawty Redd, Midnight Black, DJ Toomp, Drummer Boy ... just cats like that. Cats you never heard of or never will unless they do something else. I just kept it hungry. Everybody came to me with hungry music. I got down with them, I co-produced maybe like 70% of the album myself, so it pretty much sounds like I want it to sound.
BallerStatus.com: I know you recognize Obama as the ultimate leader and you guys are both motivators in your own special way. Have you ever compared yourself to him, even if it was discretely?
Young Jeezy: I mean, I like his confidence. I know how I am when I'm on stages and I know how I am when I'm with the people. I watch what he does and how he conducts himself even in his speech the other day. I never saw him look at the podium one time to remember where he was on the slide because he was passionate. I watched McCain's speech too and he looked on the podium every two seconds. He didn't really introduce his vice president and I feel like when I'm on stage and I do my thing and I'm with the people, it's natural. When you watch Obama talk, it's natural. That's him, that's what he does, he knows how to get things across. In any sense I would say that, but he's a strong black man. I have to give him his props. He was doing his thing out there, too.
BallerStatus.com: Do you feel that Obama has made you stronger and more motivated to do more within your community?
Young Jeezy: Of course, especially with the whole going to vote thing. I'm doing my own voters registration event in Atlanta on the 4th at Justin's. He got more of our people just aware, so for me to come back behind him and to say something about how I feel, [I can] at least get street cats to vote too. I couldn't vote for a long time. I had to go back and get a lot of things straightened out, as far as my record and it just happened to work out. When they called me and told me I was able to vote, I felt like somebody told me I won a Benz or something, you feel me? It was a good feeling. I'm definitely going to go vote and to get as many people as I can to go vote. As far as the hip-hop community is concerned, as far as the streets are concerned, this is the worst that it's been for us. He's definitely our hope, our change, we're all amped up. It's a hands-on policy. We're really serious about this.
BallerStatus.com: You're basically the ultimate motivator for the streets and I know you are very passionate about your community. What have you been doing lately for your community?
Young Jeezy: The last event that I did was a Back-To-School event giving kids book bags, school clothes, and school supplies. The last event we did was at a bowling alley. We had them come out and let them bowl for an hour or two, then after that we gave them shoes, clothes, and stuff like that. I'm pretty much involved in the community year round, whether it's Christmas, Thanksgiving, or what have you, you know what I mean?
BallerStatus.com: With Thug Motivation: 101, people were getting on you about the Snowman emblem. Now you're getting the respect you deserve over all because you're talking about the problems within the community, how do you feel about that?
Young Jeezy: The community is going to feel the Snowman though, we can't change that. As far as the streets are concerned, the streets know what's real. I think I just paid my dues. Who would have thought me coming out and selling 2 million records the first time? Who would have done that? But the world is bigger than that. I think with the last three albums, I just connected the dots and now everybody is aware that I'm going to be this way until I'm gone. I'm going to leave the same way I came in -- hard. Like, I ain't going to change up to gain respect. They're going to have to come into my world.
BallerStatus.com: Moving back to your album, The Recession. You speak more about the ethics of the community and the government. Is there anything you wish would change more if Obama were to come into office? Do you feel more people would be more motivated to do better for themselves?
Young Jeezy: I would definitely say that. Because even with his speech, he said a lot of things that mattered to regular people: healthcare, tuition, credit, workforce ... there were so many things he talked about. He was hitting so many points, it was almost like when you go to church and you think the preacher is talking about you. I definitely think the things he spoke on are the things we want to see change. The price of gas, we all know that's crazy and we have to deal with that, but paying for gas and having somewhere to stay are two different things. I rather have somewhere to stay than pay high gas prices, if that's what it's going to take. We got people getting kicked out of their homes and not having their jobs when they wake up and their money not in the bank. I think that's a bigger issue. I think those are the things that he's stressing that we believe. If any change, he can change the small things to make the bigger change.
BallerStatus.com: Are these the things you speak about in your song with Nas called "My President Is Black?"
Young Jeezy: Yeah, I just kind of wanted to touch on issues without being too direct to the point, without being too over political. Sometimes you can talk somebody to deaf with the same things. They'll tell you, "We all understand this is going on, so why you keep speaking on it?" So what I wanted to do was kind of touch basis here and there and kind of let them know -- like even with Nas, he was a plus because he's been talking like that. I've been feeling like that when he was talking like that and I was listening. I didn't get it as much as I do now when I was growing up, but now I get it. Now I get the things that certain people said about other politicians and what other people did that has a lot to do with the faults of the world. Now I get it because it's like this is my day and age, and I see it. I see the people struggling. I see what they're going through and I'm like, "Man, I got to say something!" Even with the whole Bush cheating in Florida, sometimes we tend to act like we forgot that. There's another line like, "Be all you can be." That sounds like dumb sh**. You go overseas to fight for some oil that ain't even ours and we got more problems than a little bit in America.
BallerStatus.com: Another thing that you and Nas have in common is a discontent with Fox News. What are your views on that for people who don't know?
Young Jeezy: I'm going to keep it one hundred. I'm the same dude they tried to ban about the Snowman stuff. At first, it was kind of like, "Why? I'm doing something righteous and speaking about what's going on in my environment!" But these are the same people that will show you anything to get ratings. They will show you a drive by in Missouri, they will show you a flood in New Orleans, they will show you anything to get ratings, but they're right and I'm wrong for speaking about what's going on in my environment. I don't get it! So if I can speak on what's going on in New York because I been there and I've been in the streets, and I know I've been in Atlanta and I've been in the streets, and I know that, how am I wrong when you're showing all of these people their pain and their stress on TV just to get ratings? Like, I don't get it.
BallerStatus.com: You also share something in common with Ice Cube. You guys have an album out that's talking about the issues that's going on today. What do you think about Ice Cube's career? Has it inspired you in any way at all?
Young Jeezy: Definitely. I've seen what he did, I seen where he came from -- he's a trail blazer. He went in, he didn't care what nobody said, and that's just how I feel. I don't give a f***. Tell them to find something else to worry about. At the same time, even with the movie situation, he came from where he came from, but he was able to give a cat like me a chance in a movie. That's something I probably wouldn't have got in soon because people wouldn't have gotten where I came from, and he blazed the way to give me that type of opportunity. So in my book, he's always going to be one hundred in my book. Cube is the type of cat that he's going to do what he want, he don't give a f***. He don't care. This is the same dude that talked about, "F*** The Police" back then! I didn't understand it, but now I do! Even back then he had his points and these things still go on. I think he's definitely a smart individual and he's definitely doing his thing.
BallerStatus.com: How was it working with him and Mike Epps on the movie, "Janky Promoters?"
Young Jeezy: Man that was like the band of three brothers. We had a ball; we got it in on the set. Me and Cube, we worked all day in the studio. I mean it was cool, because those two cats got a good chemistry and they work together often, and for them to just accept me like that and just show me a couple of pointers. Because it's my first movie, I thugged my way through it, but just working with those cats just made it that much better for me and that much easier because I felt I was with family.
BallerStatus.com: Could you see yourself going the Ice Cube route by doing movies and going the mainstream route?
Young Jeezy: It depends, I definitely could see myself following dude's steps because that's what you do when you set a path. It's for the next cat to come through and beat the bar. Wherever he ends his legacy, I definitely want to take it to the next level for him because I'm sure that's what he envisioned when he started doing it.
BallerStatus.com: You also have USDA2day.com that's out, tell us about that.
Young Jeezy: Yeah, I wasn't that computer savvy myself until now. I'm seeing that the internet is the future, so you got to either get with it or get going. So I just wanted to create a site that was more day to day with the issues that was going on in the street, not so gossipy, but I really wanted to get more cats into the internet into the whole computer way of life because it's coming and we got to prepare for it. I done it with my clothing line, I got cats into wearing those, so I just wanted to take this to the next level and take it to the next future and that was the whole internet/blog site thing, so I definitely had to do that.
BallerStatus.com: When you do your back-to-school events, you're reaching the younger kids. When you put out your albums and do your videos, you're reaching a certain caliber of minds who grasp what you're trying to say, but then there's the teenagers that are trying to find their way. Do you think your website and your community is the best way for you to reach them?
Young Jeezy: Yeah, definitively. I rather be hands-on myself, but what I always do is when I do something in the community, if I do something around the way, I always post it up on the site. Let cats see me day to day, move around, doing my thing, being kind of low because when I got in the game, I didn't know which way was up and I felt my way through it. I learned from my mistakes, but now that I've learned I got to be like Cube. I got to show the next cat the way.
BallerStatus.com: That motivation that you naturally have that has grasped the industry and has grasped your audience. It has even trickled down to the Olympics as you found a fan in Michael Phelps.
Young Jeezy: Actually I just got off the phone with him, just chopping it up for the first time real quick. It was good to see him in person and to congratulate him as well. It just only means that my message is global now and I got to keep doing what I got to do. I can't look back and worry about the haters because I'm going by these radio stations and people are calling me and telling me how much they ride with me, so they out there. They out there and so I got to be out there for them. It's just showing me that I'm doing the right thing because five or six years ago, I wouldn't have imagined myself talking to cats like that or even having the hood with me like that. People doing music to respect me and wanting to do music with me and understating my movement, and where I come from and still respect my gangsta. It's almost like I got the best of both worlds. It don't get no better than this.
BallerStatus.com: What's going on with the USDA team?
Young Jeezy: Right now we're trying to get Slick Pulla out, Blood Raw is on the road right now promoting his album My Life: The True Testimony, which is in stores right now. The last album we put out was certified gold. When Slick's out, we're going to right in and finish up the second one. It's called USDA: The Shield Gang.