Jeezy, “Living In Pain” (Originally Published March 2006)

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In the beginning of the album, you say, “There’s a message in my words, you gotta decode it.” What is the message?
The message is thug motivation. It’s be all you can be, sky’s the limit. Do what you do, don’t let no haters get in your way, and definitely don’t worry about the bullshit. Life is too short, man. Can’t sit back and wait on the bus, you gotta go run and jump on that muthafucka.

What do you think you’re selling to people?
I’m giving them hope. It’s almost like one of those tapes [they advertise on TV] when you damned-near sleep, that come on 5, 6 in the morning. Them get-rich-quick schemes. I’m just giving them hope. I wanna be the one that come up and throw the lifeline down to pull people up. My music is designed—if you down, it’s gonna pick you up. And if you at the top of your game, it’s gonna make you high. It ain’t no shit that I’m telling a muthafucka, Shoot a nigga, kill a nigga. I’m the same nigga out here stressing, telling the Bloods and the Crips, “Man, look, red and blue make green, my nigga. Let’s get money. Fuck beefing and killing each other. If y’all niggas grew up on the same side of town, and it woulda been different circumstances, y’all woulda been best friends.” And even from a child’s perspective, a 16, 17-year-old kid listening to my music—he might like that watch, that car, the shoes—he could determine right then and there whether he wanna deal with all that shit for real, for the rest of his life. Once you cross that line, you can never go back. And somebody that’s in the streets or doing what they doing, whether they in college, wherever, could know that, Okay, if I’ma do this shit, I gotta be the best at it, because why I’ma sit here and waste my time?

Do you think you do enough to show the pitfalls, the downsides and the trials and tribulations of the game?
Definitely. And I think on my next album, I’m really gonna get into that. I just didn’t want to come out preaching. I gave them my heart, and they give me their ears. They listening to me now, so I could talk about deeper situations. I gave you enough on the first album just to know. Now I can really talk to them and let ’em know, Look, okay, this what come wit’ that.

Do you think it’s a contradiction to promote Da Snowman and say…
But this the thing, I never said Da Snowman was anything, so I don’t see what the contradiction is. I feel like them muthafuckas need to worry about Saddam—they got all these wars going on—than some shit that the hood will like.

But if you’re saying brothers gotta stop shooting each other and gangbanging because that’s tearing apart the community, and you call yourself Da Snowman, regardless of whether you said it was this or you didn’t, you know what people are taking that Snowman to mean. Da Snowman represents a hustler.
But anybody hustles. Niggas sell DVDs, CDs, satellite dishes, whatever. Da Snowman is the ultimate hustler. It’s not about what he touched or how he touched it—it’s about how far he’s come. It represents the nigga that wasn’t scared to do it, no matter what it was—whether it was selling socks or cars or cutting niggas’ hair or whatever. Da Snowman, Rubber Band Man, all that shit—it represents something. Niggas wore rubber bands when Tip was talking that shit ’cause niggas felt like they was rubber band men. They was wrapping them stacks up. Nigga ain’t gotta sell nothing illegal to get no stacks.

Show me anywhere on that shirt that says anything about narcotics, anything on that shirt that says anything about violence, anything on that shirt that says anything about racketeering, rape, prostitution, armed robberies, so and so forth—you got me? [Laughs] “Da Snowman” represents “do what you love and love what you do.” But just grind hard at it, be the best. That’s what Da Snowman is about. Why in the fuck they fuckin’ with me about some shit that they act like they can’t stop? Come on, man. This is America. They can stop anything they want to stop—unless they makin’ money off of it. If they can stop terrorists from getting in this muthafucka, they can stop a lot of shit that’s going on in our neighborhoods. But they don’t care, ’cause they don’t gotta live there. If people weren’t doing no crimes, or doing wrong, or doing something to survive, the police wouldn’t get paid, the jailhouses wouldn’t get paid, the taxpayers’ money would be going somewhere else.

This is a place where you can kill for your country, but you can’t hustle to make a living. I can go there and kill anybody I want in Iraq—for them. But you let a nigga catch me on the block with something in my pocket trying to feed my son, lock me up and throw away the muthafuckin’ key. I can go kill for them. I could do that. But I can’t feed my family. How am I supposed to respect that?

If your story could end at any time, in any way, how would it end and when?
My story—ain’t no happy endings. One of two things gon’ happen to me, dawg. We all know what those one or two things are, so I ain’t tripping. I’ma accept it and respect it. Can’t dodge no car wreck, man. Put your seat belt on, hope your air bags come up. That’s all you can do. If it’s gon’ happen, it’s gon’ happen. No running from that. Until then, I’m helping muthafuckas out here in these streets. It’s this or nothing. I’ma ride ’til the wheels fall off.

Why don’t you think it’s possible that the story has a happy ending?
Niggas like me don’t make it. At all. It’s a proven fact. Nobody I ever grew up with, nobody that walked the same path I walked or took the same road I took makes it. It doesn’t happen. It doesn’t. I ain’t fucked up about it. I understand. It is what it is.

Do you think it’s possible to get out of that state of mind?
Nah. This is who I am. How can I change? Who I’m gon’ be?

What’s the point of having a mind if you can’t change it?
’Cause that’s the mind I have. What I could do with my mind is be the best person I could be without stepping outside of my body. If I can get somebody else’s mind frame, who would I be? How would I be able to spread the message? Like you couldn’t tell Dr. King to switch up what he was doing, because he felt he was right. Same thing. I feel as though what I’m doing is right.

If you look at Malcolm X, though, he came from being a pimp…
And if you look at me, I was in the streets and I became a rapper. It’s almost like—and it’s definitely no disrespect—it’s almost like Jesus. He took them nails for the people. I’ll take that for the people. If that’s what it gotta be, me sitting in a box, that’s what it gotta be. But I went standing up. I wasn’t scared to say what was on my mind. I ain’t bite my tongue. I wasn’t sacred to tell people the truth. Why I’ma be scared to tell the people the truth, and the government don’t tell us the truth about what’s going on overseas and why they fighting and what they doing. At least I got enough nuts to stand up and tell you. I ain’t scared to tell you what went on around me, what went on in my environment. I’m not ashamed of that.