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Jeezy: My speech to Gucci Mane in Verzuz was real and unrehearsed, killings have to end

“If Big and 2Pac could have done a Verzuz, what would the history be?” Jeezy said to REVOLT. “If you disrespect me, I’m going there. What you’re seeing play out is what they (young kids) think is a part of rap culture.”

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On the heels of the most epic Verzuz to date, with Jeezy and Gucci Mane going head-to-head at Magic City in Atlanta where they both grew up, the former returned to unleash his newest project, The Recession 2. As someone who more or less created the genre of trap music, the Atlanta native deserves all his flowers.

And the numbers don’t lie. Almost twenty year later, the long-time feud between Jeezy and Guwop was streamed live on Apple Music, breaking Verzuz’s all-time livestream viewership record to date. Over 9.1 million people tuned in to watch the legendary battle unfold, as Jeezy pulled from his infinite catalog of hits. The day one fans went crazy as they heard “Trap Star,” “Go Crazy,” “Lose My Mind,” “All There” ...the list goes on.

With over a dozen plaques to his name, Jeezy’s newest project goes beyond just the club bangers and creates an articulate body of work that touches on relevant topics from Black excellence to equality to spirituality. Beyond that, he steps into a new career path: Being a host of his own talk show on FOX Soul titled “Worth A Conversation” while launching his own The (Re)Session Podcast by Jeezy in partnership with Charlamagne Tha God and iHeartMedia’s The Black Effect Podcast Network.

Previously speaking with Jeezy about what it means to be an “enTRAPaneur,” REVOLT had the pleasure to catch up with The Snowman to chat about his Verzuz, the new project, being a Black man in America today, and more. Peep below.

Your concerts have been the most memorable to date. Do you miss performing?

I do. It’s crazy because when you’re in it, you’re running around like, “Damn I can’t wait for this to be over.” Now, you miss the energy. It’s different when you’re pulling energy from people that love you. You’re working on other projects or doing what you do because you feel the energy from the people. Even doing records, you don’t know how they feel outside in the world because everybody’s in their own bubble. You gotta pull them out. It’s weird, almost like making music from the house and never going outside. You don’t know if it’s bumping in the club, in the car, in the kickback, you don’t know.

The Recession 2 out now! How you feeling?

I feel good, this body of work was needed for me at this point of my career. I wanted more live instrumentation and to really paint a picture. I have enough club bangers in my arsenal of music, I wanted to do artistically a body of work that can be the vessel for what’s been going on in the last six to eight months. We’re so social media-bound, we look at things and they go away. This younger generation doesn’t realize they were really a part of a civil war, in a situation where the leadership was almost a dictatorship. This guy came in as a president and tried to divide the world in front of our eyes, then you got a pandemic so the streets are different. It’s a real thing, we had a three-headed monster: racism, bad politics, and a bad economy. A couple TikTok videos and a presidential election, everybody forgets about this shit. I wanted to capture it in that time. Like wine, you go back to it later on like, “Wow, I didn’t even think about it like that.”

What’d it mean to get Tamika Mallory on the intro track?

It was real, I was sitting in my living room, I’d been in Atlanta all of three days. I’ll never forget when they killed George Floyd, I’m watching the whole world erupt. If I stand on my rooftop, I see what’s going on in Atlanta. Police cars going, helicopters, I’m like, “What the hell?” It was a riot overnight, instantly it was a different world. I remember watching TV, I heard her speech. Damn, she’s really the voice of reason because the shit she said, I couldn’t muster those words up. This is a woman on the frontlines. It doesn’t even sound coercive, she’s really speaking real talk.

I was doing something for Steve Harvey and she’s on there, I said, “That speech you did was amazing, I just hope people don’t forget it.” I’m working on the intro, I call her: “Yo sis, that speech really needs to be heard.” She’s so G, she said, “Bro you got it, whatever you need.“ Chopped it up, I put it on the intro. We all need to hear that at least one time a day, so we don’t lose grip of where we at. For her to say those words at a time like now is so much needed because it’s coming up from a different place. I can talk to my fans and followers about how I feel, this is somebody else’s whole different perspective. I’m bringing the worlds together saying, “This is the world we live in, be aware. Don’t be oblivious to what’s going on because you got your nice watch and cars, you living the life. There’s people out here struggling and I want people to hear it. She really set the tone.

How does it feel being a Black man in America during this time?

It’s different, it’s starting to lighten up. At one point, it was unreal because your white friends calling you, “Yo bro, I’m with you!” Or a cry for help, it was real for a minute. This is our reality. I’ve been dealing with this my whole life so I don’t feel depression the same, but with social media, everything’s out there now. When I saw what happened with Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, to name a few, it got to a place where, “Hold, this is really happening? We’re all seeing this?” Ahmaud Arbery, the wildest shit in the world. You can’t even go to the safarI and get away with that with some animals, they don’t play with that. You can’t go out there and kill an elephant, these are human beings being hunted down.

In Georgia if you’re not a convicted felon, you can carry arms as long as it’s in plain sight. It makes you wonder, should I be doing this? If I get pulled over, I don’t want them to use that for an excuse. Those thoughts start going through your mind as a taxpayer and staple in the community. Speaking on behalf of Black men like myself, I’m sitting back like, “Damn, if I go out, will my son go out? These are real conversations, I don’t know if we’re making it back. Like the lottery, it can happen. The malice behind what happened to George Floyd is unreal. Just because your law enforcement, people will sit there and let you go that far. To kill someone on camera shows you the lack of respect they have for my kind. As a Black man, that’s very concerning because it takes a lot to take a life. You have to be a certain type of person to be cool with that, let alone filming it.

“Almighty Black Dollar” is such a banger with Rozay. Bring us back to that recording session.

That’s the sixth record I recorded, shoutout to J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League who sent it to me. I knew what it was so I had to sit on it for a minute — pause, hold it and think about it. This had to be an anthem, “Almighty Black Dollar” sounded epic. First, I hit up JAY-Z, “Yo I got this record.” Sent it, he said, “This is crazy.” I hit up Rozay, same thing. I hit up Puff because I was going to put me, JAY, and Ross on it and have Puff talk through the hooks, but the timing was off, so I couldn’t get everybody on. Ross sent his verse in, I listened like, “Me and Ross killing this.” One of the best records we did, we both on that tip right now. When he sent it back, this is it. This the one.

You say “all this FendI & GuccI is goofy.” What’s your take on designer labels?

I think it’s bullshit. Be fly, but if you’re going to put people’s kids through college and set up their trust funds, let’s support each other, too, because I don’t got something with a designer tag, don’t make me less of a man. People out here are risking their lives and freedom to wear this shit, let’s look out for the people that make stuff for us, too. The money has to circulate. If you take the tag off a Birkin bag and somebody else comes up with something as fly, what’s the difference? That’s a thing about a village: Once we start taking care of each other and feeding each other, then the village flourishes. If we’re all taking away from what we work hard for and putting it somewhere else, then our village doesn’t flourish.

Was the plan always to drop the album right after the Verzuz?

I watched a few Verzuz and thought they’re dope, but always said, “I ain’t doing that” (laughs). People hitting me, I didn’t really want to do it. The only person that makes sense, I don’t know if that’d make sense. My brother Tip called me out, I pulled up like, “I’m here, what you wanna do?” The process, they asked me and I’m being truthful. It’ll only make sense if Gucci wants to do it. He looked at it like I looked at it: You don’t want to do that because it makes you dated. Really it didn’t because it’s a new thing, which I respect. Man, they want to see it. Run it, let’s do it. To drop the album that day for me really made sense. You have to align what you’re doing so it makes sense because what I do know about Verzuz is everybody that participates, their catalog does go back up.

You guys reeled in the most viewers to date. Did you anticipate that?

Listen, I knew it was a gangsta party (laughs). I tell you that, people are on the edge of their seats. For me, that’s when culture wins again. Nine point one million insights is a big deal. That’s almost bigger than the Grammys — talking Super Bowl shit. That’s when you get to see our worth. We might not see it the same because there’s so much history, but when you put it on the mainstream, you see what we’re really working with.

What’d it mean for it to take place at Magic City in your hometown?

That’s where my career started. RIP DJ Nando, my good friend who was the house DJ there. He broke all my records from the beginning, him and all the dancers really had a lot to do with my success. That club used to play my music three hours at a time. Everybody in there singing every word and throwing money all night, millions of dollars being spent. That’s real so when I said I’ma do it, it has to be at Magic City. I wanted to take it back and show Nando love, show the city love. That’s a staple, Magic City will forever be a part of my legacy. Knowing there were nights I stood on that stage and throw money glore, champagne glore, wow look at this now. Got the whole world tuned in to the stage, it was a big deal...

That speech you gave at the end about King Von and Nipsey Hussle touched everyone who watched. What were you going through in the moment?

I mean, it was real. I can turn this curve or we can go back 20 years, but it was in the heart. It wasn’t rehearsed, this shit got to end. Not even for me and you, but for them. When you hear about these things, they’re different. When you see them, it hurts. To see Von as big as a star he’s headed to be in a brawl and now he’s being shot in the street on camera. You see somebody trying to put him in the truck then shoot up the truck, it’s the Wild Wild West.

Nip wasn’t killed by an artist, he was still killed by the hate of the culture being “if you disrespect me, I’m gon’ do this to you right then and there.” To see that kid run back and kick Nipsey when he’s down because he had that much hate in him, that hurt me. I want everybody to be rich and successful, figure out the best way you could do it. If Big and 2Pac could have done a Verzuz, what would the history be? If you disrespect me, I’m going there. What you’re seeing play out is what they think is a part of rap culture.

The goal’s to get in this and be successful — to bring other people up. When you see these guys get a hand and make themselves a large corporation, it’s not to get killed. It’s not to come from Brooklyn, one of the toughest neighborhoods in the world, make it out, then go to the Los Angeles hills and somebody kills you while you sleep like Pop Smoke. It makes no sense. I want to see you get your money and live. The name of the game isn’t to get money, your hood’s depending on you, then you go out here and somebody kills you like Bankroll Fresh. Figure it out. The mentality of it made me say that then and there.

Congrats on the new show on FOX Soul, “Worth A Conversation.” How’s it feel being a talk show host?

Truth is I’m the type of person who always had an open mind, that’s how I was able to navigate through life. I found that my key to success is being able to talk to people who’ve been through some things. My last episode I had Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, we joked about her sitting me down with Joe Biden. I get to ask questions that when you’re sitting on your grandma’s front porch, you want to know how to get out of there and make better for yourself, or you sit in the barbershop and things aren’t adding up, you can’t ask people around you because they’re in the same situation. To be able to talk to people outside of that gave me an up, and they help me out in my life.

Being able to talk to Steve Harvey for a whole hour about real setbacks, talking to Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms about her father being locked up for drugs but that made her stronger. People need to hear that, it’s an extension of the music. You only could say so many things in an album, a song, a verse, this is a whole other conversation. I want to use all my platforms to give people knowledge, wisdom, gems they need because it’s real. If you give the right person those gems, they can go out and change other people’s lives and I think everybody can’t sit down and talk to Steve Harvey, Mayor Keisha, Deion Sanders and really get out what he’s going through when he’s thinking suicide.

That’s what I love about who I am and what I do, I’m the vessel. My gift is giving back, putting people in position. Even with my podcast with Charlamagne, it’s the opposite of that. This is more about real life. My first guest was Tony Robbins, we talked about what the world needs. My second guest was Freeway from Roc Nation, we talked about going through his kidney failure. His son being killed, him having to donate four of his son’s organs to save somebody else’s kid. At the same time sitting next to him was his daughter, she got diagnosed with cancer. I asked, “How do you get through all this?” He said his faith to God, somebody has to hear that. My last guest was Byron Allen, we talked about what it is to build a Black dollar. What he’s done with all his networks, billions of dollars, some Black kid out there needs to hear this. He’s sitting in his room trying to figure it out, this opens his mind up.Worth A Conversation” is more lifestyle, The Recession Podcast is more real life.

How has the meaning of “hustle” changed for you through the years? From the streets, rapping, talk show host, etc.

Hustling is something that anybody can do, you have to apply yourself. When I came in the game, I was corporate thuggin’ to become a business, that means you make money while you sleep. People around you make money while they sleep, everything’s at your fingertips. You can go sit down in a room with somebody and say, “Hey listen, we need five million dollars to make this happen.” They say, “I could see that, let’s go raise this.” It’s being a business yourself. Having integrity, values, morals, being able to go out here and create situations that people can eat and live off of. Going from a hustler to a businessman was a hell of a transition, but that’s always the goal. A hustler, we stood on the block. It is what it is. A businessman, he buys the block (laughs).

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