Beats, rhymes and life are three of the corners where hip hop intersects. Few other TV shows have been able to cover all of these angles in-depth and authentically quite like REVOLT TV's "Drink Champs," which thrives on its candid conversations with the biggest and most influential figures in the game. In honor of such a one-of-a-kind show, REVOLT will be recapping each weekly "Drink Champs" episode, so you can always catch the gems that are dropped in each lit interview.
In the latest episode of "Drink Champs," Jeezy makes his return to the set to chop it up with N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN about his past, present and future endeavors. Making his major label debut in 2005, Jeezy quickly staked his claim as the king of the trap with Let's Get It: Thug Motivation 101, which was hailed as an instant classic and positioned the instant hustler as a rap superstar. Since then, he's built his brand into an empire with multiple platinum and gold certified studio albums, and various business endeavors under his belt. However, last year Jeezy delivered the shocking news that his ninth studio album, TM104: The Legend of the Snowman, would be the final release of his career before hanging up the mic and focusing on his entrepreneurial pursuits. While retirements are rarely official in the world of hip hop, the thought of this being The Snowman's last hurrah is enough reason to give him his roses while he can smell them, which N.O.R.E., DJ EFN and the "Drink Champs" family certainly did during his visit.
To help give fans a recap of the conversation, REVOLT compiled a list of nine things we learned from the Jeezy episode of "Drink Champs." Take a look at them below.
1. What Spurred Him To Sign With A Major Label
Prior to inking his deal with Def Jam, Jeezy had already become accustomed to the lavish lifestyle afforded to platinum-selling rap artists. However, his decision to jump from the indie circuit to the majors was more of a byproduct of his exit from the streets than any financial gain. "I just recently got all of my masters back, so that was first and foremost before I go any further," Jeezy says in reference to his pending retirement. "We had to get the business right 'cause when I jumped off the porch, I was bossing. I ain't ever work for nobody. I did real shit like cut grass in the neighborhood, throw watermelons and shit like that. Help my uncle put cement in the fucking barrel. But, when I got into the game, that shit was different because it was like I really took a deal because I didn't want to go to the penitentiary at the time. I needed a way out."
2. On Recording Let's Get It: Thug Motivation 101 Prior To Signing His Record Deal
Most artists wait until they're backed by a major label before completing their solo debut. However, according to Jeezy, Let's Get It: Thug Motivation 101 was already recorded prior to signing on the dotted line. "It was now or never," Jeezy says. "I was trying to get my mom a crib, the heat was on, niggas was getting indicted and it was surreal. It was like, 'Shit, I had this chance to be on,' so I had a lot of responsibilities. My business was good, but it could've been great cause just think, my momentum was up. Just imagine if I was like, 'Nah, I ain't taking a deal' and still put out a record? My first album was recorded before I even signed the papers. I had Thug Motivation in the can, it was done. The only thing I didn't have on there was Hov. So going to Def Jam, that's how me and Hov linked up."
3. On Building His Buzz In The Strip Clubs
One executive who played a big role in Jeezy's success was Shakir Stewart, who passed away in 2008. Jeezy gives his recollections of his initial encounters with the famed A&R and how he managed to capture his attention. "A lot of that was Shakir," Jeezy says. "'Cause he was seeing what I was doing in the club 'cause I would be out and shit. All these Lambos and Ferraris and shit, just kicking it and that was my thing. I had these big ass chains with Jeezy on it, they used to roll me out, baby. I was one big diamond, you feel me? 'Cause I was spending all my money on chains and cars when I was trying to get on. I used to go to the strip club and that's how I used to get my buzz on." He continues, "That's how I really got on." It was like Shakir and them used to come to Magic and I was going to Magic when I was younger. So, I understood how it worked. So, when I tried to work the music angle, it was just like, 'You go in there, you take care of the girls, you make sure the DJ straight and you wear every chain you got in your jewelry box. And you go and fuck up $100,000 every night until they know your name.'"
4. How He Became Involved With Fashion
At the height of Jeezy's buzz, T-shirts bearing his Snowman logo began popping up all over the country, which was a testament to his popularity in the streets. However, it wasn't until after the fact that Jeezy would parlay the trend into an opportunity to jump into the world of fashion. "What I didn't understand was they was selling the Snowman shirts," he recalls. "So, you'd go in these people's booths and they're stacked to the moon, and they're buying 'em in bulk. I'm trying to sell records, you feel what I'm saying?" When asked if he ever thought to copyright the logo, Jeezy says he opted not to in order to concentrate on being an artist and building his career. "Nah, Greg Street told me to, but I was like, 'Yo man, I'm trying to sell records,'" he explains. "That's like somebody telling you to sell green and you sell something else. You're like, 'Nigga, I don't know nothing about that shit.' So for me, that was my first indication. But, when I went back to Hov, I was like, 'I think I wanna do this and so he put me up with the Russians that was doing Roc-A-Wear at the time, and I came up with USDA, which [was] my line at the time. So, that was like my first business venture and I remember the Russian called me and he was like, 'Yo, this shit is crazy, the government shut us down and we're not gonna be able to do your brand.' And at that time, I had already had product pressed up and all that, and I was like, 'What's the problem?' They said, 'The government put a cease and desist [order] on USDA. So, I'm sitting in Miami, I'm at the crib. I'm like, 'Shit.' So, he's like, 'What [we] gonna do?' So, I was like, 'Give me twenty minutes, I'll call you back.' I called him back, I said, 'Yo, this is what we're gonna do. We're gonna change it to 8732.' He was like, 'Okay, well what does that mean?' I said, 'Well, back in the day, if you ain't want no one to know what you were doing if you paged somebody, you would use the numbers and the letters, and you'd swap 'em out.' So, that's how I did that and that was like my first successful business venture. And I was making money when I was sleeping and I was like, 'I like this.'"
5. On Being Mentored By Ice Cube
Even bosses and self-made entrepreneurs can pick up a few tips from someone who's tenured in the game, which Jeezy explains when speaking on his relationship with Ice Cube. "I respect Cube 'cause Cube got out here and grinded, and Cube's still a man of the people. You see this Big3 shit, you know that shit could be as big as the NBA one day. CubeVision, everything he was doing, but I was picking up game from him. He called me, he was like, 'I had someone that was gonna do the movie. They backed out, can you do it?' I ain't ever acted in my life. I'm reading the shit, I'm like, 'Aight, cool.' This my first time ever seeing a script in my life and it was on site. I was in L.A. He said, 'Can you pull up to the set?' I pulled up and I was shooting a movie in an hour."
6. Being Influenced By Master P and Diddy
Viewed as one of the most respected hustlers in the industry and the streets, Jeezy credits some of his work ethic and grind to being inspired by moguls like Master P and Diddy. "For one, I grew up listening to [Master] P and watching what they was doing," he says. "I was going to the tape store every Tuesday 'cause that nigga was dropping two or three joints [a week]. But, what I liked about Master P the most is I saw off top that he was a hustler. He knew how to package it and make superstars, but that was his niche. And then you had somebody like Puff who did the same thing. And that's another thing to me 'cause Puff had his run in music, but if you look at his run now, you can see that's who he really was. That was just a stepping stone."
7. How "Soul Survival" Almost Didn't Make to Let's Get It: Thug Motivation 101
It's normal to hear stories of a rapper almost passing up on a hit record, which nearly was the case with Jeezy and his smash collaboration with Akon, "Soul Survivor" prior to Let's Get It: Thug Motivation 101's release. "It's crazy 'cause that night I was recording it, I did like three records and Shakir came by the studio," he recalls. "And after Boo brought me the record, I did the first verse and we was all going to the club, we was going to Visions. We got in the cars, we left, went to Visions, partied and shit, we came back to the studio and Shakir was like, 'Play me what you did tonight.' So, I played him a couple of records and I got to that, and I said, 'I did this one, but I ain't finish it yet 'cause I really don't like it,' and I played 'Soul Survivor.' And he gave me this look like, 'Nigga, if you don't finish that shit.' So, I went in the booth and I finished it. That's how the song got done. I wasn't even gonna use it, I'ma keep it a buck."
8. On His Relationship With B.M.F. and Big Meech
Jeezy's affiliation with B.M.F. founder Big Meech played an integral role in solidifying his street cred prior to the kingpin's arrest on drug charges in 2005. This is highlighted in the trailer released in anticipation of TM104: The Legend of the Snowman, which includes a voicemail message from Meech himself. "I wouldn't even say claim it. It's just a lot of people don't know me and dude was like real friends," Jeezy says about his ties with B.M.F. and Meech. "Zipper, we was real friends, [like] me and Hov, that's just who we were. But keeping it a buck...a lot of things went on that people don't understand and a lot of that shit had to do with my legacy, just as far as who I am as a person and even with my music. It's like some shit you can't even walk away from. And when you say The Legend of The Snowman, it would've almost been disrespectful not to, at least, insert that in there because if you look at the trailer, that's all the shit that I really went through to become who I am today. And how do you disregard that?"
9. On T.I. Advising Him To Give Up Hustling
As two of the forefathers of trap music, Jeezy and T.I. have been linked throughout their respective careers. During his sit down with the "Drink Champs," Jeezy reveals how T.I. helped convince him to get out of the streets and focus strictly on music. "Tip, that's my brother," Jeezy says. "It's crazy. I remember Tip came in the studio one time when I was in Patchwerk, when I was telling you I was one foot in, one foot out. I was working on Trap or Die and he came in Patchwerk, which is like a famous studio in Atlanta. He came through, he looked around. I got the lounge going, I got my homies in there counting money, I got money in the vocal booth, everything. He came, he stood around, [did] his own little thing. I probably had about two million in the studio and Tip goes, 'Let me talk to you for a minute.' So, he walk[ed] me in the bathroom, I'm like, 'What the fuck?' He's like, 'Yo, you know you can't do both, right? You gotta make a choice, you're not gonna get away with both of these, something's gonna fall.' He was like, 'You got talent. You're talented, you could pull this off.' And in my mind, I made a decision right then and there, and everybody that owed me when I was in the streets, I just threw my phone away. I ain't even call nobody for my money. I made a decision. I went cold turkey."
If you love Atlanta stars and hip hop, you'll definitely want to join us and AT&T in the ATL on Sept. 12- Sept. 14 for our three-day REVOLT Summit, which was created to help rising moguls reach the next level. Head to REVOLTSummit.com for more info and to get your passes now!
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