Jeezy is not only a hip hop legend, he is Atlanta royalty. With the REVOLT Summit taking over three days in Atlanta in September, thousands of creatives and aspiring moguls conjoined to attend panels and discussions from the greats in the entertainment industry. While the “Combs Cartel” panel proved to be one of the most popular conversations, “A Convo With Jeezy” came as a close second.
Sitting down with entrepreneur, inventor, and investor Paul Judge; Jeezy began with a quick statement to the crowd: “If you here to learn something today, make some noise!” The audience immediately erupted in applause and uproar.
From the very beginning, The Snowman was has mixed motivation with trap music. This was actually fueled by his upbringing in the church — thanks to his grandma — and fusing that with what he learned from the streets. It was the preacher that kept the youth in check, telling them to keep striving and keep believing in a higher cause.
Jeezy states, “When I got my shot and my chance, I just wanted to take what I learned in the church and from the streets, and put it in my music so it had purpose — and it just not be words and rhymes. But, to actually touch the hearts of women, men, and children. I got that from church, from my humble beginnings.”
Calling himself an “urban philosopher,” Jeezy never looked at himself as a rapper. He was someone who always gave his people words of encouragement — even when he was hustling. He explains, “When I got into music, I didn’t take the gangster route. I took the motivation route because that’s who I am as a person.”
Judge then brings up the fact that Jeezy is one of the originators of trap music and asked how he was able to balance the hood, motivation, and a rap career. The star answers, “Because in the hood, life is what it is. We’re all trying to come out of the ghetto and make someone of ourselves. I loved Tupac coming up, I just feel like he stood for something. For me, I wanted my words to stand for something.”
For the businessman, it was never about creating a sound for music. It was for people to relate to his struggle, whether it’s hustling or making it out of his mom’s house. From day one, the message has never changed. But, it was his 2008 album, The Recession, that was the turning point for him to actually take the music thing seriously.
“When I came out of the streets, I had what you call survivor’s remorse. So, I wanted to bring everybody I could with me. It was a lot of extra weight, extra stress. Just a bunch of uncertainty. Around The Recession is when I shook that off and started to understand who I was as an artist. I really put my pen and pad together, and wrote what I felt like was a body of work for the world to hear. Not just the hood.”
Jeezy attributes the streets to teaching him how to be a businessman by learning how to save money, how to invest in himself, and how to be a brand. On “Black Eskimo,” he raps, “N*gga made a quarter mil at the Texaco…” — presumably where Jeezy spent a majority of his time standing outside slanging and learning real-life skills on how to survive. He jokes, “It was actually a little more than that.”
To this day, he thinks as a survivor, which directly translates to his numerous No. 1 albums in his two decade-long career. He humbly states, “Selling records was a blessing, but the bigger blessing was being able to put people on inside my family or buy my mother her first house in my name. That was the real prize for me. To be able to lay in my bed and not worry about my front door being kicked in. That was real.”
For Jeezy, peace of mind is everything. Switching over to business, Judge took the star’s own lyrics to touch on the various topics in entrepreneurship. On “The enTRAPreneur,” Jeezy raps, “America, they label us dealers, that’s the allure / But the hood, yeah, they label us heroes, entrepreneurs.”
Talking about the transition from rapper to businessman, Jeezy first defines heroes. “When your mother’s sitting at the edge of the bed and she’s crying about bill money, the lights get turned off and you figure out some way to get money — you come in and pay those bills, you a hero. You a blessing, you a gift,” he says.
When you’re able to do that, that puts a fire in you. It inspires you to keep going. When Jeezy entered the game, he let everyone know he was “corporate thuggin’.” While music is his talent, business is his passion.
He then jokes about how Diddy was a dancer and one of the best to ever do it. But now, look at Diddy, who owns REVOLT Media and TV, and is a mogul in both rap and business. Jeezy made The Snowman his own brand, a movement that’s still going today.
Jeezy states, “I’m not even looking at the wealth. I’m looking at the jobs, the opportunity, the landscape we [are] pushing. They only expect us to sell music. We’re going to sell music and everything else! You’re not going to box us in. If you believe it’s possible, it’s possible.”
Jeezy used to not be able to pay his phone bills, now he owns a own phone company. He adds, “You can’t stop dreaming. You can’t stop going. If your dreams don’t scare you, you’re not dreaming big enough. If you can think it, you can do it.”
That fact that you can take an idea and turn it into a corporation is beautiful to Jeezy, and it’s something that he hopes to convey to his fans through both his music and actions. After all, there’s a huge difference between visiting the beach and owning the beach.
Jeezy then compares himself to Oprah and Former President Barack Obama. He says, “Anybody that got the success, I got it. I got struggle. I got pain, I got passion. That’s what business is. You see these people owning things, it’s because they believe. It’s no different.”
Jeezy is here to change the narrative of becoming a businessman. “We don’t have to just be one way, that’s what I’ma kick until I can’t kick it no more,” he adds.