Jeezy tells Jalen Rose the advice he would give young rappers

I’ve been friends with my next podcast guest for about 20 years. And I’ve seen his evolution from Young Jeezy to Jeezy the Snowman to Jeezy the engaged man (he’s soon to wed the beautiful TV host and stylist Jeannie Mai), the hip-hop executive and elder in the rap community.

In fact, Jeezy, government name, Jay Wayne Jenkins, has some sage advice for young rappers.

“I would encourage them to keep their head on straight because you wanna get the money, but you want to live to enjoy it,” he told me.

He is referring to the rash of young rappers recently killed over rap beefs. People like King Von, who was shot and killed in November at 26 and New York native Pop Smoke, who was shot and killed during a Los Angeles home invasion in February. He was only 20.

“I think a lot with this generation now, the money is so fast, and it’s so easy. The thought process is take each other out because that’s what it’s about. If I take you out, there’s more for me. I just think at the end of the day, I am not here to preach Kumbaya. If the Italians can get along with the Irish, I just don’t understand why it’s gotta come to what it’s gotta come to … I ain’t never seen anyone from Apple kill someone from Microsoft,” he said.

He knows about what he preaches. He has had a long standing beef with fellow artist and onetime collaborator Gucci Mane that has led to bloodshed and even death. But they are now scheduled to be in the same room and settle things with their music. They are facing off on the rap battle show Verzuz, which was started by Timbaland and Swizz Beatz.

That’s a major thing for them to come full circle, and it’s going to be epic.

Jeezy is dropping his ninth studio album “The Recession 2” on Friday, and he has also been elevated to an executive advisory role at Def Jam, which I think is a very smart move on their part. He will be able to mentor some of these young up and comers, who need nurturing.

And even though he is a rapper, he’s always been more about the business, a k a “corporate thuggin’.” He told me that unlike many artists, he never had a notebook full of rhymes as a kid. He is a hustler who became an MC, not the other way around. He launched his talk show, “Worth a Conversation With Jay ‘Jeezy’ Jenkins” on Fox Soul, with guests such as Steve Harvey. It’s a natural role for him. He said he got to where he is now by listening to people. He’s also doing a podcast “(Re)Session” and, of course, has his own clothing line.

He’s also been a very powerful political force in the black community. Before the 2008 election, he worked really hard to get folks to get out and vote. He organized buses to get people to the polls and did a lot behind the scenes. That’s around the time he recorded “The Recession” album, and there were a lot of us entertainers and athletes in the black community rallying people to vote.

That obviously contributed to Barack Obama getting elected and Jeezy’s song, “My President” becoming a hit. We celebrated at the Inauguration, and there is this great picture of us with Jay-Z and Akon. It was the glorious culmination of months of labor, and it was so gratifying. Jeezy is the guy who can function anywhere from the hood to the boardroom to the White House.

One place he might not be welcome after this podcast drops? Probably the Balenciaga store. In 2019, he wore a pair of cowboy boots from the fashion house, and was universally roasted for them. He said they were his biggest style misstep. “I almost lost friends over them.”

Detroit native Jalen Rose is a member of the University of Michigan’s iconoclastic Fab Five, who shook up the college hoops world in the early ’90s. He played 13 seasons in the NBA, before transitioning into a media personality. Rose is currently an analyst for “NBA Countdown” and “Get Up,” and co-host of “Jalen & Jacoby.” He executive produced “The Fab Five” for ESPN’s “30 for 30” series, is the author of the best-selling book, “Got To Give the People What They Want,” a fashion tastemaker, and co-founded the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy, a public charter school in his hometown.

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