Before the business accolades, Jeezy had always had the mindset of a hustler. Throughout his rise to the top as one of Atlanta, GA’s most prolific emcees, the Hip-Hop mogul has fulfilled a lifelong dream of transitioning from the streets to the boardroom.
The rapper whose given name is Jay Wayne Jenkins, didn’t even begin his career as an artist. Instead, he worked in an executive role before Quality Control Music’s Kevin “Coach K” Lee encouraged him to pursue rapping.
Despite launching his own label, CTE World, in 1998, it wasn’t until 2001 that Jeezy put his own lyrics to the test as Lil J with the release of “Thuggin’ Under the Influence (T.U.I.).”
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“I didn’t know a lot about the music game. I learned by trial and error,” Jeezy told AFROTECH in an exclusive interview. “Like, I didn’t go into it, you know, majoring in music or business in college. I went into it coming from the streets, the school of hard knocks and just figuring it out as I went. But the only difference is, as you figure it out as you go, you waste a lot of money, you waste a lot of time.”
Young Jizzle From The 'Bottom Of The Map'
Since then, the Atlanta native, who was known to the world as Young Jeezy, has released a total of 12 studio albums and now goes by Jeezy. Throughout his evolution though, one thing has remained the same, approaching the world with a hustler mentality and encouraging fans to do the same by showcasing all of his various levels.
While he has served as an inspiration to many, Jeezy reveals what encouraged him to take on the role of entrepreneur.
“I’ve seen certain people when I was coming up that just had more than everybody else and had things going on, and I always kind of resonated with that,” he said. “I would see things and go, ‘Okay, that’s how a boss moves. That’s how you take care of your people. “And I was just so intrigued by that, right? It was so fascinating to me to see somebody out here make something out of nothing and bring other people in.”
Jeezy continued: “So, that’s always been my goal. If you know, like, even in the beginning of my music career, I started off as a CEO. I wasn’t even in the booth making songs, I was just wanting to put money behind people. Obviously, that didn’t work out, but for me, music has always been my talent, but business has always been my passion.”
From The Streets To The Boardroom
What’s more, the “Trap Star” emcee appreciates the art of making music but appreciates how running and staying on top of his business stretches him.
“The music… the art of that is great, but the challenge of business is what fulfills me, and it feels a lot like my own life,” Jeezy said. “Because you’re taking money and you’re investing in something, and you’re looking for a return. And, you’re figuring out ways to involve people in this vision that you have to build something that can possibly have value. So, for me, that’s the fun part.”
He continued, “I can make a record in my sleep, but going out and making something out of nothing, that’s when it gets real. What I love about it is it also carries a level of respect when I walk into these rooms.”
For Jeezy, music has always been the vehicle for his desire to get into entrepreneurship.
“Because, how else am I gonna get into business? I can’t go straight from the streets into the boardroom, that’s not gonna work,” Jeezy explained.
Jeezy... The Best-Selling Author
Today, he’s sharing his lessons as a best-selling author, further proving that there’s nothing he can’t accomplish. According to Jeezy, his new book, “Adversity For Sale: Ya Gotta Believe,” isn’t a street memoir. It’s where he opens up about his journey through personal stories to motivate others to go out and get it.
While he still loves to connect with his fans across the nation by performing some of his hottest hits, old and new, moving forward he wants to continue to walk in his purpose.
“Right now, I’m leaning into the stuff that I love, but if I do anything next, it has to align with my purpose,” he expressed. “That’s just where I’m at. If it aligns with my purpose, like culture, people — because where there’s people, there’s power — if it aligns with just the knowledge and the information and the data as far as business is with culture, I can see that.”
Jeezy continued: “But, where I’m at right now, is like such a great space because I’m getting better at it every day. I’m working hard and making new connections. One thing my mom always told me is, ‘Put the right things on your plate, don’t just fill it up because you can.’ So, for me, I just want to focus on the things and continue to get better at them, and one of those things was becoming an author, so that’s my latest thing.”
“Adversity For Sale: Ya Gotta Believe,” is now available on bookshelves nationwide.