The Inspiration Called Young Jeezy


“[My] attitude [is] like f**k it, they hating anyway.” Young Jeezy, “Corporate Thuggin’”

If I were to die suddenly under odd circumstances and the law, my family or friend would look at what happened they would probably stumble on a few odd trends in my life.

Upon looking at my music playlist, they would see the songs and artists that I played over and over and over. Many of those songs would be those of one Jay Jenkins, professionally known at Young Jeezy.

Yes, Young Jeezy, the Snowman.

In all reality, I can say without question that I have listened to Young Jeezy just about every day since he came out in 2006 on Def Jam Records with Lets Get It: Thug Motivation: 101. Weird, huh? I mean, for me, selling family and community destroying drugs is a social abomination and selling it to your own people is damn near treason being the semi-militant Black man that I am. I can’t defend those nefarious activities, but I also can’t say that Jeezy’s rearing defines how I process his music.

One thing I can identify is that Jeezy – and those like him – is a survivor of odds that most people refuse to identify with. Me, I can identify with the will to climb out of the hole, clean off the dirt, only to be met by those that despise you anyway. I can relate to the struggle of being Black in America, being human in America. I’m like water…you can try doing that dam, but damn it I’m going to ease through one of those crack. I mean, nothing is going to stop me from doing what I need to do for my family.

So, even though Jeezy is telling his life in song and no longer overtly indulges in the street life that should have found him dead or in jail, he’s still a social pariah to many. Those that hate you –critics, racists, middle America, urban America – are going to hate you regardless of your income or your social status. Me, I’ve been through my share of trials and the more I move along in life, the journey gets no easier. People still loath you, even if you haven’t done a thing to them (AllHipHop, as a company, can attest to that). You will still encounter people that judge you without knowing you or your background of adversity. Eventually, you conclude that you have to do what’s best for you – haters be damned. Word to Oprah.

“I don’t make music for the critics/ they don’t understand, because they ain’t live it.” – Young Jeezy

I know it’s popular to smash, bash and batter Hip-Hop these in these super politically correct era. Opportunists, come out to play! Unlike you’re dissenter, I also know that artists like Young Jeezy have existed for years in some form or another. Another one of my favorite artists, Willie D of the Geto Boys, was known to get extremely nasty on the mic, but, like Jeezy, he peppered his message with gems. When Willie D said, “F**k you, b***ch,” he wasn’t talking about a woman – he was talking to the Ku Klux Klan (1990’s “F**k the KKK”). Same with the big homey Ice-T, who once said to the PMRC, “The more you try to suppress us, the larger we get.” And that’s how I feel about my life and those that attempted to blindly try to eradicate Hip-Hop like we were roaches. Those people don’t define us, nor do they know our struggles growing up. Perhaps they do know, but opted to ignore.

That’s right.

Hip-Hoppers define who we are and if those detractors want to take away the money, the sponsors, the love and support then we’ll find another way to get it. That’s me. That’s Jeezy. That’s Hip-Hop. We came out of the smoldering ashes of the Civil Rights era, under the thumb of 70’s socio-economic oppression only to find empowerment on our own terms. And that’s whether or not you were middle class or in the trap. I’m a college educated person who has had/has/lost the potential of Bill Gates or Steve Jobs. Do you think I had a Black man for a mentor? What about a White man? I had my loving mother, but did any other older, successful writer/business person/ so-called activist step up, harness that potential and help guide me through these treacherous waters? No. No. NO. Word to Amy Winehouse.

“What you talking about? (Girl singer) Living my life and I’ma get it all no matter the price/ When I did it you know I done it the best / sit back and just hold your breath What you talking ‘bout? (Girl singer) Changing the game and show you half these rappin a** n****s is lames? When I did it you know I done it the best / sit back and just hold your breath”

Young Jeezy, “What You Talkin’ About” </i>

The End

On “Lets Get It/ Sky’s the Limit,” Jeezy says, “The World is yours and everything in it, its out there get on your grind and – get it sky’s the limit!” Many rap fans and those intelligent idiots called rap critics may not realize that that’s a partial quote from Rudyard Kipling’s poem “If.” It’s a poem I hold dear to my heart, far before Jeezy intertwined it within his hood poetry. Kipling (1865 – 1936) was the India-born, British-bred author and poet and I bet Jeezy and I relate to his poetic work for similar reasons too.

The first stanza of “If”:

“If you can keep your head when all about you

Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,

But make allowance for their doubting too;

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,

Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,

Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,

And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise…”

Reader, can you relate to that? There are those that would have us brainwashed into thinking that rap is to blame for everything from kids smoking weed to violence to ages-old misogyny. If Hip-Hop is to make it, we’re going to have to realize we need to see the positive in things that are only appear negative. That’s what Jeezy did. Hell, that’s what I did when I couldn’t find work as a writer and didn’t get any calls from those designated to “help” me succeed in college. So, that’s life and that’s the American Way. Pull yourself up by the ol’ bootstraps. We did it like that dam water does it.

I’m not saying Jeezy is perfect. I’m not even saying that he’s positive per se. He’s definitely not an artist that I wouldn’t let my (unborn) children listen to without thorough explanation. I’m positive, but there was a time when I was negative to myself –not others. It was a string of years when life was bleak and the days were dark. I found my own flashlight, critic.

If I can find inspiration in Jeezy, imagine what happens when some old head activist stops bashing the younger folks and commits time to talking to us, instead of the cameras of the enemy.

“Besides the bulls**t life’s great,” Jeezy says. He’s right. We’re still here.

To Hip-Hop, “IF” By Rudyard Kipling:

IF you can keep your head when all about you

Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,

But make allowance for their doubting too;

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,

Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,

Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,

And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;

If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster

And treat those two impostors just the same;

If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken

Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,

Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,

And stoop and build ‘em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings

And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,

And lose, and start again at your beginnings

And never breathe a word about your loss;

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew

To serve your turn long after they are gone,

And so hold on when there is nothing in you

Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,

‘ Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,

if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,

If all men count with you, but none too much;

If you can fill the unforgiving minute

With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,

Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,

And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!

Illseed is an columnist and independent cultural critic and he is certified insane, says the AHH staff.

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