Young Jeezy - Biography
Young Jeezy is a southern rapper who describes his lethargic delivery and Pastor Troy-like exclamations as “diarrhea flow.” With his single-minded pursuit of financial gain, he’s something of the Suze Orman of hip-hop. In fact, he proclaimed himself disinterested in rapping and admittedly primarily motivated by financial concerns.
Jay L. Jenkins was born September 28, 1977 in Columbia, South Carolina. His parents separated when he was young and he moved with his mother to Georgia as a toddler. He was passed around between relatives and claimed that his was raised more by the music of UGK and No Limit than any adult in his life. He was also influenced by his teenage cousins who hustled and who he looked up to. When he was ten, they were incarcerated. When he was twelve, he left home and followed in his cousins’ footsteps, first selling drugs and then, in 1994, being sent to a boot camp in Savannah for possession.
Seeking to move into legitimate business, Jenkins began promoting Cash Money Records releases and set up Corporate Thugs Entertainment. Around the same time, Demetrius "Big Meech" Flenory, one of the heads of the Black Mafia, settled in Atlanta where the gang operated a cocaine distribution cell. They also sought to form a legitimate business, starting BMF Entertainment, although most of their money still came from moving coke. In Atlanta, Meech and Jenkins became fast friends, even referring to one another as “family.” When Jenkins decided to try rapping himself, as Lil J, he released Thuggin under the Influence — T.U.I. For his follow-up, Come Shop Wit' Me (2003 CTE), rather than sign with BMF Entertainment, he signed a distribution deal with Def Jam and switched his name to Young Jeezy. Featuring big name Atlantans Bone Crusher, Lil Jon and Pastor Troy, it sold more than 50,000 copies.
The following year Jeezy appeared on releases by Trick Daddy and Fabolous, the latter another BMF associate. Meanwhile, Jeezy’s friends at BMF were growing increasingly bold and under the surveillance of the DEA, who’d first started following them in 2000. For Meech’s 36th birthday, there were naked models, an elephant, zebras and lions to gawk at, despite the fact that the label’s only artist was the little-known rapper, Bleu DaVinci. That fall, Jeezy became acquainted with a rapper, Gucci Mane, at a shoe store, Walter’s. The next day, Gucci and Jeezy collaborated on Gucci’s “Icy.” Jeezy claimed he was never properly compensated and a serious beef arose between the two. The following May, Gucci’s home was invaded by alleged BMF members. Gucci shot one of the invaders, who died on the scene.
That summer Jeezy next appeared with Boyz N da Hood, a southern rap group put together by Sho'Nuff Records co-owner Russell "Block" Spencer and made up of Jeezy, Miguel "Big Gee" Scott, Lee "Big Duke" Dixon and Jacoby "Jody Breeze" White. Boyz N da Hood released their self-titled debut on P. Diddy’s Bad Boy label. However, it was quickly overshadowed by Jeezy’s Let's Get It - Thug Motivation101 (2005 Def Jam) which boasted the Mannie Fresh collaboration "And Then What" and "Soul Survivor" (with Akon), which reached number four. The album entered the charts at number two and Jeezy left Boyz N da Hood, and was replaced by Gorilla Zoe. At the album’s release party, BMF were there in force, making it rain and swilling champagne. Furthermore, the lyrics of the album’s songs brazenly confirmed Jeezy’s relationship to BMF, contained numerous references to selling coke, and resulted in schoolchildren wearing T-shirts emblazoned with Jeezy’s trademark symbol, a scowling snowman.
In the wake of his departure from Boyz N da Hood, Jeezy focused on expanding his CTE family and established his own group, The United Streets Dopeboyz of America, (aka USDA) consisting of Jeezy, Slick Pulla and Blood Raw. Other artists who came to Jeezy’s CTE are Big Homie Screwww, B.A.M.A., Tru Breed and Ray Rizzy. Jeezy also began to soften his public image. After Hurricane Katrina devastated the south coast, he offered to open his doors to victims. In October, the mother of his nine year old son used the gesture to obtain child support, as Jeezy had previously claimed he had neither a home nor money. That same month, some thirty members of BMF were arrested in a raid in which $3 million in cash and assets, 2.5 kilograms of cocaine, and numerous weapons were seized. The DEA claimed that BMF had been responsible for moving a monthly average of 2,500 kilograms provided from Mexican drug cartels.
In 2006, Jeezy began an all out assault on the charts. He starred on the Protectors of the Gulf Coast, Vol. 2 (2006 BCD) mix album; the mixtape Who Run the A Town (2006 Oarfin) and, with DJ Drama he released three mix albums, Trap or Die (2006 Aphilliates), You Can't Ban the Snowman (2006 BCD) and Tha Streets iz Watchin' (2006-Aphilliates). He also appeared on releases with established pop presences including T.I. and Ludacris. The Inspiration (2006 Def Jam) was similar to its predecessor, if a bit poppier, The single, “I Luv It” peaked at fourteen. Another mixtape with DJ drama arrived the following year, I Am the Street Dream! (2007 BCD). He and Fabolous released a mixtape, Part 2: When the North and South Collide (BCD). Jeezy also released the debut of USDA, Young Jeezy Presents USDA: Cold Summer [The Authorized Mixtape] (2007 CTE). It debuted at number four and sold nearly 100,000 copies in its first week. Jeezy also branched out into video games, playing himself in Def Jam: Icon (2007 Electronic Arts). That September, after leaving P. Diddy’s Atlanta restaurant, Justin’s, Jeezy’s Lamborghini was involved in an accident with a taxi and he afterward declared his “new appreciation for life.” Possible proof came when he presented the first annual Toyz n da Hood toy drive, which proved about 1,000 kids in Macon and Atlanta with toys for Christmas.
Jeezy further focused on crossing over in 2008, appearing with distinctly mainstream artists including Mariah Carey, Kanye West, Ice Cube and Usher, who’s “Love in this Club” reached number one. In a minor setback, in June he was arrested on a DUI. It could’ve been considerably worse. Informant Ralph "Ralphie" Simms told the feds that Jeezy had moved multiple kilos of cocaine for the Black Mafia Family. Jeezy wasn’t charged. The Flenory Brothers, on the other hand, were convicted of running a continuing criminal enterprise and sentenced to thirty years to life.
2009 brought many more mixtapes, with DJ 31 Degreez he produced The Godfather of the Trap (2009 1 Stop), presented by The Cartel, he released I Am Trap (2009 Udigg)and Old School Chevys/Drop Top Porsches (2009 Port City Entertainment) followed. Toward the end of the year, DJ Drama brought Jeezy and Gucci Mane together to squash their beef and a collaborative mixtape followed, We Run ATL, Vol. 2 (2009 Oarfin). A collaborative mixtape with DJ Folk, Trappin' Ain't Dead (2009 1 Stop) was followed by another mix, Death B4 Dishonor (2009 Oarfin). That year he made his acting debut playing a rapper in the comedy, Janky Promoters (2009 Third Rail). So far in 2010, Jeezy has been pretty quiet. Currently, 80 Jeez (Amalgam Entertainment) is scheduled for release and Trap or Die II - By Any Means Necessary is scheduled as well. in 2011 Jeezy released Thug Motivation 103: Hustlerz Ambition.