Oh, man, I’m tired. I’m just getting out of the studio. I pulled an all-nighter at the studio last night like I do every night. It’s all good, though. It’s all in the name of love, homie.
Are you happy with your sophomore album, The Inspiration?
It’s wonderful. I can’t even front. It’s one of those situations that I feel real good about. You’ll hear what I’m talking about soon. It’s like Judgment Day. I have a lot of shit to prove. I’m ready to get it.
You’ve said you wanted The Inspiration to be much more personal than Thug Motivation. Why did you feel the need to take that approach?
I just saw things a different way on this one. It’s about what I see. The first record was a good record, but I don’t think people knew me and knew how I felt about certain situations. They may have thought I was glorifying a lot of shit, but at the end of the day, that’s where my mind was. I wasn’t really focused on letting niggas know who Jeezy is as a person. It was more so letting niggas know what Jeezy had going on (on Thug Motivation). We discussed that phase and now it’s time for niggas to know that I’m not some dumb, ignorant nigga talking about the streets and getting money all day. That’s just how I see life. I understand both sides of that shit.
What’s your favorite type of music to make?
I like the street hits because I just love the reaction of it. It’s a different approach to get personal on an album because a lot of cats go with what works. I feel like it’s time for that with me. I don’t want to go any farther with niggas not knowing who I am. I want them to know who I am on a personal level. Look at the late greats and some of these new niggas. You felt like Big was your homie because there was so much you got out of music. They let you know how they were thinking.
What did you want in terms of production for The Inspiration?
I got DJ Toomp, Shawty Red, Drummer Boy…Toomp has been all 808’s and hi-hats, forever, since I can remember. It was important for me to keep that Jeezy sound so I stuck with the cats that I knew could do that. I wasn’t trying to make another Thug Motivation. I went in to try to make another album built around that. I also wouldn’t try to go in on some poppy shit because that’s not what I feel.
After the success of Thug Motivation, are the label and people around you trying to get you to make more crossover hits?
I wouldn’t say they’re trying to make me take a pop approach, but they’re trying to get me to see what they see. When you’re a boss like myself, that’s really not something you have to deal with. I tell them they signed me because of my movement. That’s what L.A. is good at. L.A. Reid let me do me. L.A. Reid is the best at letting an artist be himself. Sometimes you can forget about your friends and where you came from and you’re not grounded anymore. You have to stay grounded. I don’t let the money make me. I make the money. I don’t let the music make me. I make the music.
Have you ever caught yourself losing touch with where you came from?
Yeah, because I stayed on the road for so long. I wouldn’t say I was slipping, but you’re on the road for so long and you’re on the bus and you sit back and you say, “Damn, I miss the shit that made me me.” Sometimes you have to go back home and just kick it. You get that love and you’re in the streets and you move around. You can forget what it’s all about. Sometimes you have to do that and it makes it all worth it.
Did you want a lot of guest MC’s on The Inspiration?
I’m pretty much doing it by myself. I definitely think I got some good features this time. I got Ludacris, Keyshia Cole and Three 6 Mafia, to name a few. I really wanted to make the album about me, but at the same time, there were just certain songs that I felt these people would be crazy on. I wanted to do that collabo because it’s stepping outside of the box. I’m going to still do what I do, but doing a track with Luda can open doors. A Luda fan might not listen to Jeezy, but they might listen and say, “Okay, that’s Jeezy.” You could be surprised when you think everybody is a fan. I’m pretty sure some whiteboy in Wyoming hasn’t gotten a dose of me yet, but he could hear me on a track with Luda and say, “Who is this?”
How would you describe your fan-base today?
I know my fan-base is the streets, but what’s really fucking me up is I’m moving around and I see different people and I had no idea they loved my music. They tell me what songs they love and I’m like, Oh, shit! I make music for my homeboys around the corner. It’s crazy when you’re in the airport and people know who you are and 65 year-old grandmothers tell me their grandson loves me and she wants to take a picture with me. I’m like, Damn! It blows you back because it’s like, maybe they get it.
You have a very strong reputation for being a hard worker. How much of the hip-hop game is hard work versus talent?
I would say it’s all hard work because talent is talent. Talent is just being able to do something. You’re either the best at it or you’re good enough to get by. If you don’t work hard, you can’t play hard. Your fans can tell when you get lazy and your fans can tell when you feel so confident that you feel you don’t have to put that extra umph in it. You can tell when somebody puts everything he had into the album. You can tell he put in long days, short nights and everything he had to make the album until everything is right. I’m a perfectionist. I’m my worst critic. It has to be all the way right for me or I can’t do it.
What’s a typical day like for you when you’re recording your album?
We smoke, get a little something to drink…There’s a couple of homies around and we just go. I got my house shoes in the studio. I’m comfortable. I might stay there from 2:00 in the evening to 2:00 the next evening. It’s a long day. I might fuck with the gym a little bit or slide through the hood just to fuck around, but my main thing is getting to the studio. I can’t go to the club if I don’t go to the studio. If I had studio sessions and I don’t go to the studio, I feel crazy. If I don’t go to the studio, I feel like I’m slipping.
When Beanie Sigel got out of jail, he said you were the only rapper he was feeling. What did that statement mean to you?
It means a lot. We all know Beanie Sigel is a real nigga. For him to say that and for me to listen to his music when I was going through my trials and tribs and for him to listen to mine when he was going through his, it just proves my point that we all come from the same cloth. The music I do is for the people who understand it. The people who don’t get it, I’m not mad about that. They just don’t understand our world. For him to be from Philly and for me to be from Atlanta, Georgia, we’re just connecting the dots. Music is a universal language and it helps people get through their good and their bad times. If good music can help a nigga get through his day, that’s what it’s designed for. For Beanie Sigel to say that, I was like, Damn. For me to be a nigga he’s listening to when he says, “I’m going to get on my grind,” that’s some real shit to me.
Will you work with Beanie Sigel in the future?
Hell yeah. I meant to get him on the album but it didn’t work out.
In Game’s “One Blood,” he said, “I made room for Jeezy.” How do you feel about that line?
Game’s the homie. It ain’t nothing like that. We spoke on this several times. He feels like I feel. There’s not a lot of real niggas out there. I’m not trying to break niggas down and define them, but we stand for a movement. We stand for the streets and we’re not really giving nothing besides that. When people see certain shit that looks like it might be a sell-out move to sell records, they don’t respect you. But when a nigga sees a nigga doing the same thing he’s doing in the same manner, there’s the respect. He sees me in the South and he’s all the way out West and we fuck with each other.
I never took offense about that line. He played the shit over the phone and I heard it. There’s no offense. I’m quite sure we’re two of the same kind. If a nigga has something to say, I’m pretty sure he’s going to say it. It ain’t no subliminal shit. I read the magazine articles and he said he fucked with a nigga. You can’t do nothing but respect that if you’re a real nigga.
How involved was Jay-Z in The Inspiration?
Jay’s doing Jay right now. He’s working on his album. We still stay in contact. He’s got his shit so I expect him to take care of that.
How’s your Best of Both Hoods project with Juelz Santana coming?
The mixtape DJ’s fucked us up. When we introduced the idea, The Best of Both Hoods, motherfuckers started making their own tapes. By the time we got around to doing our shit, there was thirty Best of Both Hoods mixtapes out. There wasn’t any point in trying to do it because it was so saturated. We might still do it. Sometimes you have to just keep it on the low until you put that shit out because everybody is looking for a way to come up. If a nigga wants to get a name, he’s going to do that shit himself.
Juelz is also doing a project with Wayne. Will you ever do a project with Juelz and Wayne?
It’s whatever. I’m not tripping on that. It’s whatever. If that’s the idea, I’m here.
What’s going on with Corporate Thugz Entertainment?
We’re working on Bloodraw, Slick Pulla and 211. I’m going to do three releases next year. We’re just trying to put everything in perspective and get everything lined up.
Are you happy with how Bloodraw’s Gangsta Grillz is doing?
It’s doing real good in the streets. Niggas are really fucking with it. He’s on the road and everything with it. Bloodraw busts his ass. He reminds me of me.
What are your plans for Bloodraw?
We’re planning on dropping Bloodraw maybe in the second quarter of next year.
How important has DJ Drama been to your career?
Dram was fucking around in the streets doing mixtapes and when I met Dram, I gave him one of my records. I gave him a song and he put it on his mixtape and niggas said it was raw. They said we should do a whole tape. I did the whole tape thing and the shit just went crazy. Shit just went crazy. It was unbelievable. It was a movement created off of mixtapes. DJ Drama had a lot to do with what’s going on with me. Niggas really wait on that shit. It’s like our new version of DJ Screw. People used to always wait on DJ Screw. It’s crazy because people talk about the Drama mixtapes more than most people’s albums.
It’s often said that Drama helped your career, but you also helped his.
Yeah. It was a give and take. I wouldn’t go tit for tat, but it was one of those situations that just worked out all around.
Are you still cool with the original members of Boyz N Da Hood?
Yeah. There was never no problems. Me leaving was more business.
Do you regret leaving?
No. I only signed on for one album. I had a solo artist deal at Def Jam. I pushed my album back so we could do the Boyz N Da Hood album. It was understood that I would only be on one album.
Are you helping Jody Breeze on his album?
Man, I ain’t even see Jody.
What did it mean to you to fill in for Eazy-E on VH1’s Hip-Hop Honors?
That meant a lot. When niggas from a whole ‘nother coast fuck with you, it’s different. Niggas from your neighborhood are supposed to like you. For them to call me and ask me to come out with Lil’ Eazy, that was just big in the sense of letting a nigga know that he’s being respected. Niggas respect my music enough to actually do some shit like that. That’s Eazy-E you’re talking about. A lot of niggas couldn’t pull that shit off.
How much of an influence is Eazy-E on your career?
A lot. It was cats like him that made the way for me. They proved that you can go against the grain and do you. That’s the best way to be about it. When I did Thug Motivation, I just went in like, Fuck it, this is what I’m going to say. Either a nigga is going to like it or he won’t.
What’s your focus going to be for the next couple of months?
My focus is on putting my foot in the pavement. I’m going to make sure I’m here. It’s about longevity. I’m not trying to lose. I’m going to work as hard as I can to make sure I’m really going to be here. This is going to be C.T.E.’s year. This year is the beginning of the takeover.
What do you want to say to everybody?
You already know what it is. I’m promising you another classic. Buy one for the car. Buy one in the house. Buy one for the trap. And buy one and keep it in the plastic because it’s going to be a classic this time, real talk.