Trap music impresario Jeezy has gone from encouraging a “Trap or Die” mentality to providing political thug motivation in recent years, endorsing President-Elect Joe Biden in the 2020 election, tweeting support for Hillary Clinton in 2015, and giving fans on both sides of the tracks the unforgettable song “My President Is Black” in time to inspire energy in Barack Obama’s historic 2008 victory.
The Georgia resident and “Recession 2″ rapper tells “Rolling Stone” how he came to endorse Obama and record the political rap record which became an unofficial campaign theme song (and whose video featured a cheerful cameo from the late John Lewis), how monetary policy factored into his political awakening, and the importance of the upcoming Senate runoff in Georgia on January 5th.
First and foremost, I am not a politician. I got into understanding what was going on around me right around the time I started to write my first Recession album [around 2008].
The Recession was written out of celebration: the people standing tall, the culture out in numbers voting because we wanted to see change, and this is what’s happening. And that was an election year. It was being in a room with some businessmen that obviously had more money than me at the time and were very successful, and seeing them ponder and really be frustrated about the recession that was coming soon.
And I just asked questions … and it just put me in a mindset of how I need to work on my financial literacy, to understand what it means to invest, to understand what it means to pay taxes, to understand what politics have to do with all these things.
I immediately went in and just started researching, researching, researching. And I then came up on the candidate, Barack Obama, and just started really following moves and watching what he was doing in this world. And I was like, “Wow, he’s well-spoken. He gets it. He’s talking to the people for the people.” And I saw the world just shift. So when the recession hit, I wanted to take the information that I learned and give it back to my culture. And the only way I knew how to do that was through music.
So this album was different from any album that I did, because I started incorporating politics. I started understanding what was going on in my community when it comes to these elections, and the judges, and the city council, and all these different things. And these are things that we don’t talk about, even at the dinner table.
When you’re from where I’m from, you just think it doesn’t have anything to do with you. When they start talking about tax brackets, you’re like, “OK, it doesn’t affect me anyway because I don’t make over $100,000. So why would I care?” Like, why would I vote [when] my vote doesn’t count? It was all those things that were embedded in us. And I was like, no, we’ve got to change the narrative.
Fast-forward to the Trump administration and where we are now. This is more militant. This is more revolutionary. This is a revolution. And it only takes one person to start a revolution. With The Recession 2, I wanted to capture what has been going on the last six to eight months that everybody’s been seeing all over the world.
“[Trump] is rallying his tribe up because, at this point, his followers are a cult.”
And what we’ve seen was a leader come in and try to basically divide the world by using race — something Hitler would do. The Holocaust without the concentration camps. You’re killing innocent people — black men, black women, you’re killing them. We have record of Ahmaud Arbery being shot down in the street. We have record of George Floyd being choked to death. We have record of Breonna Taylor being in her bed. And we have record of our president and commander-in-chief saying, “They’re thugs and hooligans, and they need to be shot.” He’s rallying his tribe up because, at this point, his followers are a cult.
And we’re watching this go on in the middle of a pandemic, where nobody is able to work. Everybody’s sitting around waiting on these checks. We’re watching it happen in the middle of people having to sit in their homes with so much uncertainty. We’re watching riots happen. We’re watching looting happen. We’re watching kids shooting people in the middle of protest with machine guns — AR-15s. They’re trying to paint this thing like America is at war with America. And we’re watching all this unfold. As a black man, you’re concerned now about letting your kids out because you don’t know if they’re coming home.
So now, we’re militant. We’re mobilizing. We’re joining forces. And we’re not just joining forces with black Americans. We’re joining forces with people from England, Italy, Turkey, all these different countries and places. Now everybody’s seeing what’s happening to us, and they’re going, “Oh, this is not right.” And so now, this revolution is starting.
And I don’t think — the way the internet works, things happen so fast — that people really took the time to realize we just went through a civil war, basically right in front of everybody’s eyes in front of all the other countries in the world. And we had to get the cancer out of the White House, which was the problem. Not to say everything was his problem, but he wasn’t helpful.
If the right people are not in the Senate, it’s gonna make it hard for the Biden-Harris administration to do anything that they need to do and that they promised to us. Not to say that they’re the end-all, be-all. But out of all this, what we did see by Georgia turning blue, by us being able to sway the election and get it the way we wanted to get it: It wasn’t about just the election — to me, it was about people mobilizing.
“It wasn’t about just the election; it was about people mobilizing.”
The same people that say, “My vote don’t count; my vote don’t count” — people mobilized, and every little thing made a difference. It was such a small gap of votes in Georgia that made it turn blue. People have to see progress so that they understand what they’re doing is making a difference. So here with this runoff, we have to continue to do the same thing, because we can’t fight half the battle and then not finish the war. We have to keep pushing strong.
Even Stacey Abrams coming on before Verzuz: All that’s small parts of what we have to do. For Verzuz, we had 9.1 million insights. That’s a lot of people that saw her. I just interviewed Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms on my show on Fox Soul, “Worth a Conversation,” and we talked about the same thing. So we’re still using our platforms in different ways but we all know what’s at stake right now, so we have to put the right people in the Senate. With Biden and Harris, everything they promised us, we’re looking for. So in order to help them get what they need, we gotta do what we gotta do.
We can’t just go halfway with this. It’s all or nothing. The Senate counts. It counts. In spite of what you think [and] what you heard, if we don’t get out here and finish this up, we only went halfway. And I believe in executing.
As told to Mike Jordan