12 years into the rap game, Jeezy has etched together an impressive music career that has him regarded as one of the best to pick up a mic. Throughout his illustrious career, the Atlanta rapper has always managed to carve his own lane and secure himself an unblemished street cred for his blistering trap anthems and thunderous ad-libs.
Jeezy was first known on the hip hop scene as a pioneer of "trap music" with albums like the 2005 classic Let's Get it: Thug Motivation 101. Now that same authentic street hustler sound continues on his eighth studio Pressure. The 13-track Trap or Die 3 follow-up features a slew of collaborations including Kendrick Lamar and J Cole called “American Dream.” Puff Daddy, 2 Chainz, Tory Lanez, Kodak Black, Trey Songz, and even Rick Ross, whom Jeezy has had beef with in the past.
He's had three albums go #1 on Billboard 200 with a fourth soon to come. Even with this his impressive rap career that most dream for, it hasn't tainted Jeezy's voracity to want more. His hustlerz ambition has transcended the music industry and is now focused on the corporate hustle. He has partnerships with performance company Defiance Fuel on a signature line of water, Atlanta's American Cut Steakhouse in Buckhead, founded his own record label Corporate Thugz Entertainment, and is also an adviser for Avión Tequila, where he helps the tequila brand reach multicultural consumers.
"I'm just getting started, so I'm still hungry, baby. As a matter of fact, I'm starving," he tell us.
With all that great power comes great responsibility, and Jeezy never forgets that. When he's not creating hood bangers, or making business power moves, the rapper focuses on giving back. Recently, the Atlanta rapper opened five orphanages in Mexico and donated a massive amount of water to Houston "Hurricane Harvey" victims.
"I think it was maybe 50,000 bottles of water from my company Defiance Fuel, he tell us. "and that was a phone call. Those are the things that you can do when you in position like that." He continues, "that might not have been enough to save the whole city, but I'm quite certain that the people that got it, you know, they needed it."
He's a man of the people. As Jeezy celebrates the release of Pressure, out now, and continues to dominate the business realm, he sat down with us to dive deeper into the meaning of his album title, being a mentor to rising artists like Kodak Black and Tee Grizzley, the importance of supporting black excellence in business, and more. See the full interview below.
What does the album title Pressure mean to you?
Basically, the whole concept of the album was what pressure means to me, is being that coal and becoming that diamond under the pressures and the things that happen in real life and you standing tall and just doing what you believe in and sticking to your script. Just coming out shining. Living your best life. That's what it's really about. No matter what, no matter who, no matter when, I am going to come out shinning. You know live my best life and it all boils down. You see that diamond on the album cover. There is no need for me to be on there.
How different is the pressure now creating your 8th album than creating your 1st album?
It's definitely like clock-work now, because I understand what it is and my position. It's more so being creative in the business space. Because that's a new thing. Like Kanye went to Paris to get in fashion. He had to take that leap of faith early on before people believed that he could do it. But now look at his shoe collection, it is almost as big as Jordan. People line up the same way. They take him serious now. Same thing with myself. I had dreams and aspiration a mogul, if you will, a business man, if you will. People didn't start taking me serious until I took that leap of faith. That was the most pressure because music is my talent. Business is my passion.
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Rap Twitter is freaking out about the tracklist, especially the Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole collaboration on the "American Dream." How did that team up come about?
It was something that took a little time to put together on a schedule wise. It was well worth it. The record is amazing and I really respect what Kendrick and Cole stand for. Especially for their generation. The type of issues they address, and have addressed throughout their careers. I felt that putting them both on the record was extra solidifying what the "American Dream" is. So everybody put their rendition of what they feel like their mind state was for the song. Collectively it's one great idea. It's this perfect symphony if you will.
How important is to your career and even to Hip Hop to see two rappers (you and Rick Ross) put your differences aside and work together?
I think it's about the music, man. I think it's about the culture. It's like once you get in a position and everything is pretty much good and set, it's really about the moves you can make. Black excellence, empowering each other, and doing things for the culture that people appreciate. We've done a couple of records since then but its just special. I just did one for his album, which is crazy.
You can get more done together than you ever can individually, and coming of age and being in a position where there are more things you can do with each other outside of music. That plays a part as well.
When looking at the track list, it's riddled with features, but what I've noticed is that the solo tracks are spaced out equally throughout the album. Is that on purpose?
I wanted to give them something this time around that was a little more thought out. The solo tracks that are on there are for real. They are real Jeezy records. I didn't feel like there needed to be as many because they are so great. Now when you look over the track list it takes you through the day in the life, until you get to the end to "American Dream" and "Snow Season." When you get to the "Snow Season," the curtains are closing now. When "Spyder" comes on, the curtains are opening up. It's like a great show if you will. From every feature that's on there I feel like everybody stepped up, there's no slack. From Kodak, to YG, to Wiz Kid, to Trey Songz, when the last time you heard that?
You also have newcomers Kodak Black and Tee Grizzley on the album. Did you give any advice when working with them?
When we talk I just make it a point to be 1000% honest with them. Transparent, if you will, because I believe sometimes they get caught up in the façade of hearing how you first came in the game, and thinking that you still have that same mind state. But mines set. Even though Kodak was going through a situation, I was making sure I was staying in contact with him, 'cause you need that.
If you need any advice or you need any support, you know, I got you bro. Same thing with Tee Grizzley. We're actually going out on a tour. We were doing shows, I liked how he was moving, and we just talked it up. I was like, "You know what, let's get some money together, man. We'll have some fun, get some money. And let me show you some things you probably haven't seen just yet. You're on your way to seeing them, so when you get to doing on your own, this is how you do it." I feel like that's sharing the game.
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How significant was it to collaborate with Diddy on "Bottles Up," and to celebrate both of your successful business ventures in the liquor industry?
Yeah, even just for the culture, it shows that black men can actually get together and make power moves and not hate on each other, and not be looking at each other as friendly competition. We giving each other game, we giving each other insight. We inspiring each other. And that video was true life. We just really went to the club and had a good time and had some cameras. And he like, "You know what, lets get on the boat tomorrow." I was like, "You know what, that sounds about right. Let's do that." So it wasn't like, thought out, need a stylist, it was just like "Yo, let's go hang out. Where's the cameras. Okay, cool."
Speaking on business, you use different ventures to help give back to the community. You recently opened up five orphanages in Mexico. How did that come about?
Actually my partner Ken Austin from Avión, the plants and the fields are over there, so that's basically where everything is manufactured and made. But we both noticed a situation because of the drug wars and everything. There's a lot of kids over there that don't have any parents, ain't got no homes, ain't got no food, ain't got anything. So, we came together and was like, "You know, I think this is something we really should do." And we actually got it done.
And shouts out to him and the whole Avion camp for that. Me being from humble beginnings and being able to given a situation where I could help some kids from a whole other country. That's the motivation for real right there. Not just the kids in my neighborhood, or where I grew up at, or the city that I'm in. This is another country.
Do you hope this inspires more rapper to focus on giving back?
I hope not even just rap. It's bigger than music. I hope it inspires anyone that is an overachiever or more fortunate than some of the people out here to make sure they don't forget them. At the end of the day we are all in this together.
Whether you helping them out financially or helping them out with something that they might need, or just giving them some game. It's all the same. Because giving them game is just as much as giving them something sometimes. They can take that and run with it. They can become something.
You just dropped your eighth studio album, Pressure, what else can we looking forward to from Jeezy?
Oh man, definitely the tour. I got a couple things in the pipeline right now. It's gonna be big for next year. Definitely look forward to see what's new at CTE, which is my management company. Just real big business, man. I got it to a science now. I understand what time it takes to do certain things. Meeting Jeezy as an artist is one thing, but Jeezy as an entrepreneur is a whole other monster. I'm just getting started so I'm still hungry, baby. As a matter of fact I'm starving.
That's great to hear. Is there any other business ventures we can expect?
Actually, I just got a restaurant in Atlanta, American Cut Steakhouse in Buckhead, Atlanta. It's nice. But really, my focus has really been on real estate and acting. I'm going back out to LA the top of the year. I just signed with UTA. You'll definitely see me on the big screen. That's why you been seeing me getting all healthy and things because I'm trying to live my best life.
Listen to Jeezy's new album Pressure below!
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