Young Jeezy, Same Ol’ G [Cover Story Excerpt]

Images Kenneth Cappello

It’s an all-white affair at the Metropolitan Business and Arts District in southwest Atlanta. The industrial loft complex is the locale for XXL’s 13th-anniversary cover shoot with ATL’s own Young Jeezy, and it’s his third anniversary cover in a row. On this sweltering mid-June afternoon, Da Snowman is playing it extra-cool between takes, making sure not to ruffle his all-white attire while chopping it up with old friend and master boardsman Shawty Redd. With Jeezy’s aptly titled Shawty Redd–produced hit single “All White Everything” blaring (on repeat) throughout the large loft space turned photo studio, the moment might seem a little premeditated. But Jeez is hardly putting it on for the cameras today.

With his long-delayed fourth album, Thug Motivation 103, set for release at the end of this summer, 32-year-old Jay Jenkins is focused on a project he considers well worth its long wait. He’s not paying any attention to negative chatter about the LP’s late arrival, yearlong pushback or the tepid response to the Trap or Die Pt. 2 mixtape, which he released this past May. He’s ignoring the whispers that he’s no longer one of the brightest stars in Atlanta’s rap constellation. And he’s on a vegetarian diet—no beef, or talk of beef, with anyone, including his longtime rival and fellow A-Town rap star Gucci Mane (who just happens to be doing his own photo shoot at the same time, about 200 yards away, in the same row of warehouses).

Today, nothing is as important to Jeezy as the great expectations he has for TM103. Where his previous LP, 2008’s The Recession, offered biting social commentary,TM103 has Da Snowman going back to his roots, back to the trap, back to the feel of his first album, 2005’s Let’s Get It: Thug Motivation 101.

As day turns to night, the scene moves to ATL’s legendary Stankonia Studios, where OutKast have recorded some of the their most revered work. Jeezy wants to celebrate the five-year anniversary of TM101 and the revival feel on the TM103. He’s confident that his brand of trap music has permanently impacted hip-hop and made him one of the last authentic street dudes in rap. While more and more artists are achieving success with fabricated street lives, Jeezy makes his case for why much of it is not believable and explains why he’s not much of a fan of rap these days. More importantly, he’s adamant that TM103, which was reshaped during months of one-on-one sessions at Shawty Redd’s home studio, will quiet all the talk of Jeezy’s demise. Let’s get it.

Thug Motivation 103 has been long delayed. It’s evident that people are becoming very cynical about its release. How do you calm the skeptics and respond to those who say you’ve lost it and you’re not in a good space right now?

You think it wasn’t like that for B.I.G.? You think it wasn’t like that for Jay? ’Pac? Shit, that’s all Jay talks about. Like, “Nigga, y’all gon’ count me out? Okay, watch this. Boom. I do this better.” That’s what it’s about. But, at the end of the day, that’s what keeps me goin’… Nobody’s not gon’ sit here and tell me, “We done with you, ’cause we’re done.” Nigga, that’s y’all. I’m not done with shit. And they gon’ sit up here and tell me, “Aw, well, you ain’t…” I’m doin’ what any nigga would do on his fourth album. I’m gettin’ it together. I’m not just gon’ give you anything, to be hot and relevant. That don’t make sense. That’s like telling a muthafucka anything just to get it done. I’ma be straight up with you, so when you walk away, even if you ain’t satisfied, I kept it real. I kept it 100. And that’s the way I feel. I wouldn’t even call it the top of my game. I’m just really figuring out the music shit. Once I put that old-school blueprint outline together that I used, with this shit that I’ve done now, it’s a wrap on ’em, homie. C’mon, I’m on my fourth album. Think about niggas’ 10-year plans. I done did more in four albums than a lot of niggas gon’ do for the rest of they life.

Is this going to be the album that separates you from the pack? That authenticates your brand even further and stops the comparisons to the other rappers that do what you do?

I don’t think nobody should compare me to anyone, ’cause, at the end of the day, you’ve got a ’Pac, you’ve got Snoop, you got Tip, you got Wayne—there’s only one Jeezy, man. Ain’t nobody walked in these shoes but me. My level of intelligence and know-how, and being able to adapt, and being able to live, and being able to walk, and still be the same person that I was from day one— that shit ain’t somethin’ that’s just given to you, man. So, at the end of the day, I’m not worried by far, because I wouldn’t even be here right now if it wasn’t for me being and thinking the way that I am. So with that being said, you can’t compare nothing to that. ’Cause I’ll say it again:
I done been ’round the world, ’round the block. Two things a nigga can’t tell ya is that I ran off on ’em or I owe ’em anything. It’s been me the whole time, bruh. Fuck the music—let’s take that out of the equation. It’s nothing. Let’s talk about life for a minute. Look where I came from. Look where I’m at. What do you compare to that? You let me know, and then I guess we’ll have a comparison.

Let’s compare Let’s Get It: Thug Motivation 101 to Thug Motivation 103. Do you think, five years later, that 103 can make as significant an impact in today’s musical climate as 101 did?

Yeah, well, they just waiting on me to come back and change the game, that’s all. [Laughs] But, you know, OutKast made great music. I listened to 8Ball & MJG album the other day—it was good music. It was good music, man. That was us! Nowadays, everybody makes beats, everybody’s a rapper. But then those were the ghetto poets that we listened to, because they were the ones that saw the struggle, and they come out and they tell the world about it, and people feel it like that. I guess now music is so saturated and so microwaved. It’s, like, 15 minutes in the microwave and boom, you’ve got something. Nobody’s putting passion or any thought behind it anymore. Or even going in, like, really going in and making shit that’s going to matter in two months. ’Cause, you know, everything sounds good when you’re [in the studio]. And I’m not hating at all—I’m just being real. —Rondell Conway

To read the rest of this cover story, be sure to pick up the 13th anniversary issue of XXL, September 2010, when it hits national newsstands August 10. Let’s get it!

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  • M. Baby!

    TM 103 on the way. Don’t rush nothing Jeezy…make the best music possible, take your time, think, write, and come out with the best music that will last for years to come. This music today only last for a few months and then you won’t hear it again, shoot…sometimes they won’t even play it in the club after it’s old. Meanwhile you can still play Biggie, Pac, Jay, Kast, Jeezy, T.i., even some old Wayne in the club. Crank that Soulja Boy, Throw Some D’s, Bed Rock, 5 Star Chick, Teach Me How to Dougie, and etc…all of those were good songs, don’t get me wrong but it’s either not being played anymore or on it’s last leg. What ever happened to the music that you felt in your heart when you heard it? Not music that just makes you dance. That music is important to because you need to party, but there’s way more stuff going on in the world that you could be speaking about. TM 103, let’s go!

  • Q461

    Jeezy stay droppin hits on each record… he’s a pretty dope and consistent artist…but his flow kinda drags after awhile if you listen to him too much….I still fucks with him though…get your paper homey..

  • Sha

    This guy is PURE HUSTLE….

    1000%!!!!!

    I have never been impressed with his lyrical capacity. I’m an East-Coast dude and on the East we are basically “Born” into lyrical emcees. So with him, I am not impressed.

    But his hustle is phenomenal!!! He has a real slick machine that knows how to work his business. I think he has survived in the game off of pure hustle. When you start to believe you are a LEGEND, others will believe it.

    I personally believe his style will play out very soon. That “Yeahhhhh…” shit is becoming annoying. It reminds me of NORE and his annoying ass “What-What”.

    But if he can change with the game, he could be considered a legend one day.

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  • Jack Devereux

    Fuck this Southern artists. Finally the south is beginning to end. Jeezy is not as popular anyomre and that goes the same for lil Wayne and that bitch T.I That fat Rick Ross nigga never was a platinum artist anyway so he a nobody. My nigga Jay-Z is the only hip hop artist besides Eminem who has managed to go double platinum, let alone 1 platinum in the last year. New York is on its way back. A N.Y artist the only one still relevant after 15 years in the game. New York baby. The South was just a fad. Jay-Z who is a New Yorker can rhyme better than any Southern Country boy. That means New York is the best.

    • M.R.E.

      ok dude! you dont know whut the FUCK u talkin bout! if JEEZY,TIP,and WEEZY put out last year,they woulda went platinum!

    • netta

      first off all jay z do is try to compare himself to Biggie, He will never be Biggie. Biggie is the realest mc that has ever came out of NY and after that NY is dead. Ny died when Biggie died. before Biggie it was all of the older cats from way back like, run dmc, slick rick, dougie fresh, etc..jay z is whack as hell.

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  • jonny bizness

    i have high hopes 4 tm103 i know he has been in hawaii with kanye cooking up that good music i don’t know bout that jizzle song with lil jon but something’s telling me this will be his best album!!!!

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  • Murkmayne

    “The music is microwaved”. Lol.. That’s real. When it gets to the point where ANYbody can make a “hit”, we got a problem.

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  • Da Illest

    Like the East Coast dude said up top, I love lyrics but Jeezy I like because he has his own style of rapping. His stories seem like the truth and the beats behind his rapping is hot.

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  • RealTalk

    LOL GUCCI WON

    • Ahmis

      How so? Gucci ain’t never even had a platinum album. When he was about to really blow, he went to the pen again… now his boy (Waka) is hotter than he is. What’s your definition of a win?… having the hottest protege?

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  • Datboysuel

    Ya’ll east coast cats are a trip..don’t dislike a dude cuz of where he from if u dont like his music then dont like his music..and im tired of hearing east coast on they way back ya’ll been screaming that shit for like 8 years now

    • Da Illest

      I get your drift but remember we are the architects and we have a high standard of what hip-hop should be since we have the greatest rappers and Jay-Z and if you dont get love in NYC, you are done. Ask OJ the Juiceman. We love lyrics and that is what really makes the music, not the beats. If it were the bests, we might as well call rap music “Techno or House music”.

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  • ff1one@yahoo.com

    real talk gucci did win cause jeezy is loosing heat. I mean he is still making songs but it was a bad move for him buisness wise. Jeezy is the truth. you cant band the snow man. dude will get his. i believe is this album comes out and is not recv well he still will go in.

    all that nyc bs needs to be deaded. even if the south is slowing down AND its not. whose nyc’s new fire artist? vado? come on son.

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  • Ahmis

    No one can stay on top forever… thats just the business. But any hip hop scholar will tell you that this dude set the trend for the last 5+ years. How many people have bit this dude’s style, sound just like him or have bitten his way of portraying the trap lifestyle by claiming affiliation to REAL drug dealers?…. Shawty Lo, Rick Ross (falsely claiming triple CCC affiliation) Rocko, early Gucci (check his old stuff) and Yo Gotti sound just like him. And that ain’t even getting into all the ad lib bitting. And for the East Coast dudes… look who jay Z is rolling hard with right now. Just the facts.

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  • Slick

    XXL I wanted to read more about Young Jeezy but it wasnt much to read. XXL yall just put Jeezy on your mag to sell magazines for yall. Shyne had more to read about and he been in jail for 10 years and aint even popular no more. I was really disappointed that I had to write yall.

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