Young Jeezy’s career has been filled with near brushes and triumph over adversity. He’s beefed with some of the fiercest people in Hip Hop, with, in some cases, real violence rocking their lives and he’s emerged almost unscathed. His music and it’s following is now fiercer than ever, with Seen It All sitting on the Billboard 200 chart since it dropped, and now the snowman from Georgia is going on his brand new tour.
It will be an intimate affair, he says, filled with the sort of unpretentious, club vibes he started out on, giving him the ability to really delve into the album cuts the way he’d like. It’s this sort of thinking that sets Jeezy apart from other entertainers in that he always seems as though he is for the people, not flying above them in the same way Rap can come off so often. And, here, he was very chatty as he gave us his breakdown of the tour, his OutKast fandom, why Atlanta rules and why artists are other artists best bet at stardom.
Young Jeezy Reveals The Motivation Behind The “Seen It All Tour”
HipHopDX: You’re just coming off the tour with Wiz, why do another one right away?
Jeezy: Excited, man. I’m ready. I look at this as more so of an experience. The music is art, the way I look at it, and this is my chance for my art to play out on stage. You know, with the tour me and Wiz did, it’s a little different because it was a mixture of fans and those tours are built off of doing your hits. You do all the records like “Lose Your Mind”, “I Love It”, those type of records. This tour is more so for the hardcore, live and die Jeezy fans. This is the tour where you hear a song you didn’t expect to hear. It’s more intimate, it’s more of an experience, it’s more up close and personal. I could tour and do bigger venues as well as being on tour with somebody else and do arenas, but I just feel like I started off in the clubs and that’s what I love. Even when I had to get out of it to do bigger things, I still wanted to go back to it. So I feel like it’s a happy medium because they’re all venues, but it feels like a club to me. So I get a chance to make sure it’s a raw experience, like we’re taking it back to performing on speakers because they didn’t have a stage.
DX: People would be surprised at your catalog; you put out a mixtape almost every year. What drives you to do that?
Jeezy: Just the people, man. Once you put in that position to talk to them, you have to talk to them just frequently enough so that they keep their motivation. How do I feel if I start off to do an album, and it doesn’t feel like I’m in album mode? I can say, “You know what, I’m gonna switch this and I’m gonna do a tape.” When I did The Real Is Back 1 and 2, I felt like that was just me styling and having a little fun and messing around with different types of beats. But then when it was time to get in album mode and do Seen It All, it was a totally different feel or mood. Seen It All to me was more like a real life situation. Right now it’s a lot of party music going on, and I get it. It has to be that, but I just feel like there has to be that guy too that says, “Ok when you’re done partying, I’ll be right here. I got you.” The mixtapes, they’re a little different because you kind of have a little more fun on them. Your beat selection is different. You’re not really trying to find the craziest production; you just want the production that you like at the time. It doesn’t have to be timeless with mixtapes. With a record or an album, you have to be timeless. So when you hear “Holy Ghost”, somebody’s going to play it for the next 10 years because it’s timeless.
DX: You’ve always had a really consistent brand. Can you talk about how you built that?
Jeezy: For one, I think how you build something is being true to yourself, true to your craft, and true to your art. Anybody that’s around me or has ever been around me will tell you when it comes to me and that studio, it’s like I’m married to it. I treat it like my wife. I really need the control room. I really need the vocal booth. I don’t waste anytime in there and every minute to me is intense. When I go in that booth, I really give it my heart. I feel like that’s the difference. When you can hear something and enjoy it, that’s one thing. But when you can hear something and actually feel it, I think that’s the difference. I was never taught to rap or I was never the guy beating on the lunchroom table rapping to myself. I just had a gift when I heard a beat to make my voice the last instrument on the record and we make a song together. If I hear a beat, I see the music. So I see what I want to say and I see how the hook should go or I see the message that should be in the song. When I made “My President is Black,” I knew what that was. When you make these records and you do these things and people appreciate them in a way that you would never imagine, that’s what makes you go ever harder, and harder to break the bar. Everytime you got to go harder for the bar. That’s how you get songs like “4 Zones,” and “Way Too Gone,” because those are not like typical rap songs. Those are like hoodstar/rockstar songs. It’s so crazy. I can’t wait to do “4 Zones” on this tour. I’ve never even done that record.
Jeezy: Nah, I haven’t even performed it. I only performed “Seen It All” like once, and I didn’t really even perform it. It was more of some club shit. I can’t wait to perform “Seen It All”, and “Holy Ghost”, on this tour because I know what that is. For people that love me for what I do, those records are going to take the roof off the building because that’s what people really want to hear from me. These are the records I couldn’t do on bigger tours because that audience don’t really understand who I am or what I came from. So this is me performing in front of people that love it, and these are timeless records. Could you imagine me doing “Way Too Gone,” and “4 Zones,” in the same show?
DX: Your fans would love to be in the building for that…
Jeezy: You know what I’m saying? That’s too much (laughs). That’s what I’m excited about, man. I could do the “Seen It All” album front-to-back, back-to-front before I even get into any of my other classics. That’s the type of audience I want to be in front of. When you do tours, you should enjoy it as well. If you’re out there just working and doing songs just trying to convince people that you’re that nigga, it’s like “nah, I’m that nigga and let me show you why.” Come to my world and let me show you how they react when I do what I do.
How “Seen It All” Could Have Gone To MCHG
DX: “Seen It All” with Jay was recorded during his MCHG sessions, correct?
Jeezy: Nah, actually what happened was, he was working on Magna Carta Holy Grail I was working on “Seen It All” and I called him and was like “Yo, I got this record.” He was like “Aight, cool send it.” And he heard and was like “Yo this shit is crazy.” He did his verse and he sent it back and we talked and he was like, “You know I’m about to drop my album, I want to put it on my album.” I said, “Cool, run it.” But I didn’t know his album was coming out so soon. So when I hit him back, I was just like “Well, you know your album’s coming out way before mine, actually four or five months.” And e was just like “Nah, cool man. It’s your record. You keep it, you know I love it.” Jay’s always been supportive of anything I do. It was going to end up on the “Magna Carta, Holy Grail” as well, but I’m kinda glad it ended up on just “Seen It All.”
DX: Yeah, it’s incredible. Cardo was on that beat…
Jeezy: When Cardo sent me that beat, I didn’t even tell him who was on the song for like 4 months. I just kept telling him, “when this song come out, it’s gonna change your life, when this song come out, it’s gonna change your life.” Some kind of way, he found out who was on the song, he called me and he was losing his mind. I remember last time that happened was when I put kanye on a Drumma Boy’s beat “Put On,” because he didn’t even know. I just put the song out with Kanye on it. It’s those little moments when you deal with these younger cats that are up-and-coming, that you use your references and you influences to make that magic moment. I think “Seen It All” is timeless. It might not be the club smash, but at the same time if you’re standing in front of an audience that loves Jeezy or Jay Z, they’re going to lose their minds when that shit comes on.
DX: Wiz has been going through a lot in his relationship with Amber. Did you have any advice for him on the situation?
Jeezy: One thing I can say is I don’t get in grown folks business, I love ‘em both. That’s all I have to say about it [Laughs].
Young Jeezy Explains “Been Getting Money” as “Soul Survivor’s” Reminisce
DX: “Soul Survivor” was your breakout Billboard success along with Akon, were you looking to hit the jackpot again on “Been Getting Money”?
Jeezy: I just went with him to the studio last week. We sat down and we tripped out for about an hour or so, man, just talking about “Soul Survivor” and how it changed our lives. Actually, he was like, “Yo Jeezy, you do realize my last name is Young Jeezy, right?” At the airport they’ll be like “Akon and Young Jeezy.” We was trippin’ about that, but it’s wild because I’ve got fans in Africa because of that record and because of Akon. I remember even getting that record. I remember Boo, Akon’s brother, dropped that record off to me in his car. He didn’t even get out of the car, he just called me and said that he was outside and I ran to the car and got the cd. I put it in and did the record on my way to the club.
DX: Wow, on your way into the club?
Jeezy: Yeah, on the way to the club. I did both verses and went to the club. Went to the club with me, Shakir Stewart, Boo, all of us. Then we all came back to the studio and we played the record. He was like, “Let me hear what you done to the record.” We played the record and we all just kinda looked at each other like “oh shit.” Because I really didn’t think about it when I did it. So after we came back and listened to it, Shakir pulled me to the side and he was like, “Yo man, that record’s a big deal.” And I was like, “You think?” Right now, to this day, I tell ‘Kon it’s crazy because I never knew that record was going to be that big and change my life like that. That was different from anything that I had ever done. Even the record we got now, we actually talk about going to Dubai to shoot the video. So that’s what we were in there talking about, and it was just crazy for us to be there to kinda’ reminisce about “Soul Survivor” and how it came about and what he was doing and what I was doing at the time. That’s why the “Been Getting Money” record on the new album makes so much sense, because we’re talking about the things that we used to do before “Soul Survivor.”
Young Jeezy Explains Atlanta’s Takeover & Artist’s As A&Rs
DX: What makes Atlanta that special place to just do what you want to do in music right now?
Jeezy: I just think it’s so many different souls here and so many different dreams and ambitions and these kids are coming with these new and efficient ways to make these records or make these beats without using all this high-end equipment. They’re really putting their passion into it, and there’s so many of them that it’s just all over the place. Everywhere you go, somebody has something to do with music, but it’s been taken seriously. From the Rich Homie Quans to Young Thug and Makonnen, all these younger cats coming up the Metroboomin’s, the Childish Major’s, it’s just so an of them man. Right now, if I wanted to make an album, I could ride around Atlanta and pick up 15 beats and have the album ready for you by the end of the month. It’s that easy these days and it’s love because I love to see the city shining like that. Cats come to Atlanta, they see us out and they see us doing our thing and they respect it. At one time, everyone just thought we were country and thought we didn’t have what it took. Now, it’s like the exact opposite. If you won’t you record broke, you gotta come to Atlanta. If your record doesn’t break in Atlanta, your record is not gonna break.
DX: How do you feel about OutKast and the reunion tour?
Jeezy: Man, I love OutKast. If you ever talk to 3 Stacks, ask him. We were on the phone one day and I had to give it to him. I had OGs and cats on the streets that put us on, but ya’ll put the city on. Ya’ll made people respect what we do. For them to be able to come back and do a reunion tour and come back and do a reunion show, I just think it just shows how much we love what it is we do or how much that we are pioneers for the type of music they were making. I don’t really know a lot of groups or duos or even artists that can come back after 10,15, 20 years and do a reunion show at home and people show up like they did and for them to have so many hits and just having such an influence on records. I remember being in Turtle Music over at the Westin Mall to buy the Speakerboxxx/Love Below record. I remember these girls in there buying and we was all supporting OutKast, but then when I heard the record went diamond, I didn’t know how to take that. Where you find 10 million people that love OutKast? I was just like “what the fuck?” To me that was just showing how big and how much they had to do with the culture because it was unreal. And I happened to buy one so I was a part of that.
DX: It seems like these days artists are the best A&R’s, why do you think that’s the case?
Jeezy: We know the music. We know the people. One thing about 10 years in the game, 5 albums in, I can walk out my door still and pull up on the block and then people will give me their opinion on what I’ve done or what’s going on in music. It’s like the cats in the barber shops are the A&Rs these days and the cats on the hood know your first week numbers before you even know. With the music we make, I don’t think anybody in the building or office can come in and say this is good or bad. I heard the OG Maco record “U Guessed It”. No A&R could have said that was going to be a hood smash. Nobody could have said that. What’s the record I heard the other day… “Ima Show You How To Do It”. These records, they start in the streets and then the mainstream America takes. I remember before people knew who 2 Chainz was and he was Titty Boi and he was doing “Ridin Around and Gettin It.” I remember looking him in his face and telling him “you about to be outta here, I hope you ready.” I remember Titty Boi running around here hustling, him and Dolla. They were doing their thing, but when 2 Chainz started to take off, he was making his own records. He didn’t have no A&R. He was making his records and he was putting the records out. He was choosing the records that were hitting and that were doing it. The little cats right now, Migos, ain’t no A&R got nothing to do with that. Those are those kids putting those records out. They believe in what they’re doing and they’re putting them out. That’s the difference, that’s what Atlanta gives you. You take it straight to the people and drop it off, then the people will let you know if it’s it or it’s not.
DX: Were you a fan of New York Hip Hop growing up?
DX: What do you see as the difference between NY and ATL?
Jeezy: I think it’s vice versa. When New York had the rock and they were doing their thing, we all tried to rap on New York beats, not that we were the best at it. That’s why when you hear “Go Crazy,” and all that stuff that I was doing, that was New York influenced. I wanted Jay Z on the record. I was like “Jay Z, I wrote a record with me and you, listen to it.” And he heard it and was like “damn.” So it’s like we were always influenced and I think it’s vice versa. When they hear some of the stuff that we do, because they come to a club and they see that energy, they kinda emulate it. That could have been anybody’s record, but the fact that he’s from Brooklyn only shows me that music just connects the dots. If I’m over here in Atlanta and I hear a cat riding past me playing that and I know he’s from Georgia that just makes me feel like, “Damn, that’s what’s up.” Now we connecting the dots, it ain’t no borders or no bridges, it’s just music. It’s music and it’s your expression. To me, what I feel like about bobby Shmurda, he put the party back in New York. He made people want to come to his block and party and throw their hat in the air and do that little dance. That’s what it’s about. It’s about showing people what your block is like. When I did “Trap Or Die” or when we did any other record, it was showing you what Atlanta was about. I think you can’t look at New York and Atlanta like two different things. You gotta look at it as good music. I like Troy Ave. I love what 50 is doing right now with G-Unit. I don’t look at it as a New York thing. I look at it like that’s 50 doin 50. You just gotta watch the whole… The fact that you can still have Nas move around up there and Jay Z. You look at the South; you still got cats like the T.I. and Luda’s [and] me still moving around doing what we do. So it’s all good music. When you look at the West Coast, you’ve got Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q and different cats. It’s just music man. We’re just supplying people what they want, with different states of mind.
Why DJ Mustard Didn’t Appear On “Seen It All”
DX: It’s been Mustard’s year this year…
Jeezy: Yeah man I told him that.
DX: How come he wasn’t on the album?
Jeezy: We’ve got a record that’s about to jump real soon that me and Mustard did with Ty Dolla Sign. Really, we were so caught up in what YG was doing, and to be honest with you, I ain’t heard a record yet bigger than “R.I.P.” I’m still waiting. We was focusin’ on YG at the time and my state of mind, I wasn’t even thinking clubs and parties. I didn’t even want to be on that scene. “Seen It All” to me was so dark and just well narrated; I didn’t even want to go that route. We had “My Nigga” and “R.I.P.” and all the stuff that YG had so I thought we’d done it the best. There was no reason. YG, he got smashes. “I’ma do it to ya like,” we sat down and talked about that beat being one of my favorite beats ever from the West Coast that The Dogg Pound did. On “Who Do You Love,” I was in the studio and I told YG, “That’s the beat you need to do right now.” He played all those beats and I said, “Mustard, stop. Put that beat back on, YG go in there, and this is the one we gon’ do. I was in the studio when he did “BPT.” And I told him, “That should be your intro.” Those were the special records. It was all focusing on YG’s album, the beat, just a classic all the way around. That was YG’s sound. I felt like it was better for YG because that’s where he was going with his album, than for me to put it on my album just because. I was on two of the biggest Mustard records this year with “My Hitta” and “R.I.P.”
DX: An artist claimed “Me OK” was copied from his record, what do you say to something like that?
Jeezy: He can talk to Drumma Boy (laughs). It’s so crazy these days, you never know what people will do, but to keep it all the way one hundred with you I have no idea who he is or what he’s talking about. You just can’t even be surprised nowadays.
DX: What’s the name of the Ty Dolla Sign record you spoke about earlier?
Jeezy: I don’t even know what they’re gonna call it, but I can just say keep your eyes and your ears open.
DX: You’ll be riding through LA on the tour, correct?
Jeezy: Of course! I’ma show you how a real one do it on the West Coast from down here in the South. I’ll come show you how to kick it on the West Coast.