NEW YORK (AP) _ Young Jeezy may seem like an unlikely political commentator, given his status as a gangsta rapper. But on his new CD, "The Recession," he talks about more than just hustling, putting in his two cents about the economy, struggling times and Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.
The platinum-selling, Atlanta-based rapper is broadening his subject matter as he also tries to appeal to a wider audience. So far, it seems he's achieving that goal: He appeared on Usher's No. 1 hit, "Love in This Club," and got a boost when Michael Phelps gave him props in Beijing, noting he jammed to the Jeezy hit "Go Getta" before bringing home a record eight Olympic gold medals.
Sitting back while wearing an Obama T-shirt and studded diamond chain, the 30-year-old talked about his third album with The Associated Press.
AP: How was writing and recording "The Recession"?
Jeezy: I think I came up with the name "The Recession" like midstream into the album because when I looked up at the songs I had, like "My President" and "Crazy World." I was like, maybe I'm paying too much attention to what's going on, and I didn't want my music to come out in a depressive (or) negative way. So I looked at what I had and I was like, "The rest of the songs that I am going to do are going to be those 'We Shall Overcome' anthems that were always made, but were more street." But now I want to make them for everybody. You don't even just have to be from the streets to know where I am coming from. Even though that's what the music is intended for, I want to put it into terms where everyone can get it.
AP: What's the overall message you're trying to send with the new album?
Jeezy: We as people, we have to stand. We have to get together as far as voting, we have to get together as far as our communities, we have to get together as far as our culture. We all know we're in a recession, how are we going to deal with it? We're going to deal with it the same way when the Vietnam War was going on: with good music. We're going to party our way through it; we cannot sit here and cry about it.
AP: How was it recording the single "Put On" featuring Kanye West?
Jeezy: I had been all over the world and I never had one song that everybody was into. ... I put on for Atlanta. I don't care what nobody says — if you're in Atlanta for more than two days, you're going to see me, in the streets, the clubs, the mall. So I felt like I put on for my city but everywhere I went, everybody else felt like that. I reached out to Kanye because my element of it was so street (that) I wanted to see how he felt and what he felt "putting on" was. And he went in a totally different direction; he felt like "putting on" was putting on his homies and putting on other people in the game. And it just made sense. And when I perform that song now I feel good about it. And it was a song that I wanted to go with and put it out. I've been state to state on promo tour and every show has been sold out, and when that song comes on it's like the roof is gone.
AP: With rappers getting a lot of negative attention, do you think their endorsements of Barack Obama could hurt his chance of becoming president?
Jeezy: As any smart individual, he has to separate himself because we do live a different type of life. I don't think it hurts, I think it shows the excitement and the urgency. Everyone's feeling it; I think everyone's excited for that change. And I think we're realizing our voices are more than just music, we're trendsetters. If we say something and everyone sides with it, that's what goes.
AP: How'd it feel when Michael Phelps said he listened to your music before swim races at the Beijing Olympics?
Jeezy: They going, "Wow. Why would he listen to him to be motivated?" Because, it's real music, and it's real people and it's real life. And we're not trying to sugarcoat it. So, we're just saying what we feel, and it's coming out as motivational music. ... To get that from my music ... man ... I'm speechless bro.
AP: Do you think that will help you sell more records?
Jeezy: I can't say it will translate into sales, but at the same time, for him to even make that gesture at a time like this, it gives me a good feeling about going into my album (release) date, and just knowing that people I wouldn't expect to listen to my music take the time to hear where I am coming from.
AP: So I hear you're registering to vote.
Jeezy: I'm excited; I feel like I'm going to sign for a new car and I don't need a co-signer this time. I'm going to do it myself. So I'm definitely going to try to encourage a lot of people from my city to actually come with me. ... Your one vote could have made that change; that one vote could be that vote. It could be my vote, you never know.