Jeezy shares his thoughts on, gun laws, prison reform and marijuana with CNN. What do you think can be done to prevent mass shooting in the U.S.
In 2008, when “hope and change” were in the air and a 47-year-old Sen. Barack Obama won the presidential election, Atlanta rapper Young Jeezy released the track “My President” with New York rapper Nas.
While the lyrics include lines about selling drugs to get by, Jeezy’s tone was reflective and hopeful, triumphant and real. Some of that hope was gone from Jeezy’s music seven years later when CNN recently caught up with him.
On the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March in October, Jeezy (he has since dropped the “Young”) released the mixtape “Politically Correct.” In the track “Streetz,” the rapper strikes a somber tone, as the video takes place in a cemetery and names of those killed on the streets flash across the screen.
“My partna Nut got gunned down in this hood last week, out here in the streets … Seen a black president, I ain’t seen no change though. They say street life numb ya; all I feel is pain though.”
Young, whose name is Jay Jenkins, was first known on the hip hop scene as a pioneer of “trap music,” with albums like the 2005 release “Let’s Get it: Thug Motivation 101,” but he has since embraced his voice as Pastor Young. But even when he was known to teenagers as “The Snowman” about a decade ago (a reference to “snow” or cocaine), his music was always laced with political and spiritual messages.
“You can be who you are and do but you at least gotta have some goals set for yourself because if not, you’re going to be spinning your wheels,” Jeezy said of his message now to young people. “Everyone else moves forward. Now you’re mad at the world … You kill your brother and you end up in this correction facility for the rest of your life so all the good you could have done for the world you don’t get a chance to do because you’re incarcerated.”
His albums have long had a bearing in politics.
As the U.S. entered economic hardship, Jeezy released the 2008 album “The Recession.” And years before the shootings of unarmed black men came to the forefront and before criminal justice reform would made its way into mainstream presidential politics, the rapper spoke directly to the heart of the issues over the last decade.
“[Before social media] you would hear about these things on the news but it would be isolated. If it happened in Ferguson it might have made the St. Louis news and that would have probably been it but with social media it goes all over the world in a split second,” Jeezy told CNN. “[This generation] is able to get these movements started just over social media… That’s how you’re getting so many people to be in Ferguson overnight.”