It's fall 2004 and T.I. is about to give Young Jeezy a glowing endorsement. The Southern king is onstage at the Mixshow Power Summit in Puerto Rico in front of not only peers such as Fat Joe, Fabolous and Trick Daddy, but every prominent mixshow and mixtape DJ.
Tip is telling everyone he's about to bring "the next n---a" onstage. The rapper, according to T.I., would be a dominant force within a year's time. As everybody tried to figure out who the gaunt MC was talking about, he ended the guessing and introduced the little-known Jeezy.
"I even was like, 'Who is he talking about?' " Jeezy remembered. "He said, 'Jeezy, bring your ass out.' I came out and kicked it for a little bit, and as I was about to leave, he said, 'Before you leave, we about to perform.' To see that unity, everybody was impressed. It was a good look."
Almost a year after the Power Summit, T.I.'s prophecy has held true. Jeezy's album Let's Get It: Thug Motivation 101 has been one of the most anticipated of the year, and the early word from plenty of critics and DJs who've heard it is that it'll be one of the top rap albums of 2005.
"All of it is good to me," Jeezy said of the disc. "The content is there, the whole motivational thing is there. The whole Let's Get It — people are going to say, 'He really meant that.' "
Since rising quickly to hip-hop prominence this year — his mixtape Trap or Die being a major tool of recognition — Jeezy says he's had to learn his fair share of lessons in the industry. He'll tell you straight up, he's basically a hustler who knows how to make songs.
"I don't how to be a rapper," he said. "I try to learn. I watch cats, see cats, 'OK, cool.' I learned, though, you have to holler at the DJs sometimes. I had to learn how to talk a little bit more 'cause I ain't a people person to where I'm gonna just go, 'What up, man? My name is such and such.' "
Luckily for Da Snowman, as he's also called, his record "And Then What" has become a big enough hit the past few weeks that every DJ with their finger on the pulse already knows his name. Jeezy was able to secure a beat from Mannie Fresh, which is rare because Mannie doesn't produce many tracks for non-Cash Money artists.
"It was cool," he said. "I've always been a fan from 'Ha,' to the first Hot Boys album," Jeezy said. "Fresh got energy. It's crazy 'cause that was the first beat he did for me. We did a couple of songs. My thing was, 'I'm finnin' to show Fresh I can rap.' N---as was telling Fresh I could go, but I be on some grimy stuff. I wanted to show him I could really make a song. A lot of my stuff is dark but [this song] gives that club feeling, 'Hey we still good.' "
One of Jeezy's favorite collabos on the LP is with his good friend T.I. on "Bang." The two teamed with Lil Scrappy for that track.
"I really think he's a good businessman," Da Snowman said about Tip. "At the same time, he opened up a lot of doors for me. Everybody does their part. He definitely did his part. Without him coming in the way the way he did — going through his trials and tribulations — and getting it how he is now, it would have been just that harder on me. People always say to me ... they try to throw little things ... 'If he's the King of the South, who are you?' I'm Jeezy. I'm Da Snowman. That's my dude, the King of the South.
"I'mma ride with him," he continued. "If that's what he claims, I don't have a problem with it. We from Georgia, we gotta stick together. We can go kick it and it's positive. People want beef and all that, but we're cool. You can't turn real against real."
Jeezy also denies that there is friction within the ranks of his group Boyz N Da Hood, which released their self-titled debut last month on Bad Boy. See, Jeezy has been pulled in two directions the last few months, promoting his solo debut on Def Jam, while trying to keep his requirements to his foursome's project. He's even had to miss many of the Boyz's press engagements.
"I want to be honest with you, man. I kinda hate it went like it did," Jeezy said about the two albums coming out so close to each other. "[The] Boyz N Da Hood album was supposed to have been out. They had to get some things straight over there [at the label]. It could have been set up a little bit better, but we G's, man. We're going to work it out. I definitely don't think it'll hurt it, because when I'm out, I promote Boyz N Da Hood. When they out, they promote Jeezy.
"It's like a lot on my plate," he added. "It ain't like I got a lot of time for myself no more. It's like I got two jobs."
Jeezy's next solo set will be "Soul Survivor" with Akon. The two are set to shoot the video within the next couple of weeks.