Young Jeezy was back to motivating last week, but this time he was calling on more than the thugs; he needed the entire community. Jeezy, David Banner, T.I. and Atlanta music magazine editor Juice spearheaded a drive to fill to a dozen 18-wheel trucks with supplies to take to the Gulf Coast.
Atlanta residents, at the urging of Jeezy, donated such necessities as water, canned goods, clothes, baby formula and diapers to be distributed to the survivors of Hurricane Katrina in Alabama, New Orleans and Mississippi.
"These were things that people could actually go out and buy and feel like they are a part of the movement too instead of dropping a check," Jeezy explained. "At the end of the day, it's our people in need of help. This is the same place I did a gang of shows, the same people who supported me over the years. You're talking about a place we used to go to support the Super Bowl, and it's like a Third World country now.
"There's a bond," he continued. "It's the dirty South and a big part of the dirty South. I'm an Atlanta dude; I look at it like it could've been us. It could have been my people living in the Georgia Dome trying to survive" (see "Survivor Stories: Readers Recall Fleeing Hurricane Katrina").
Jeezy says he was depressed after watching the coverage of the disaster on the news and was especially moved after a conversation with New Orleans native Lil' Wayne.
"I had talked to Lil' Wayne and I told him I had a crib in the ATL with damn near 12 rooms," Jeezy described. " 'If you need anywhere to stay, I can get somebody to let you in.' The man told me he hadn't talked to his mother or daughter, and that sh-- almost hurt me. I couldn't believe it. That's your mother and child. I got a son. I can only imagine what that feels like. He called me back the next day and said, 'Yeah I got in touch with them. They're OK.' We've definitely been praying for them."
Although Wayne did not take the Snowman up on his offer, Jeezy has since opened his home for several strangers, offering shelter to people who have lost everything.
"I can only imagine what it was like to be there," he said. "Nobody expected that. You don't expect to wake up under 20 feet of water. At the end of the day, that's life. How we handle this is going to set the tone for the future. This is one of the times we've got to come together. There's like 14 people in my crib I never seen a day before in my life, but I ain't tripping. They can stay as long as they need. That's real, homie; this could be the end of some people's roads. We've got to help people start to rebuild their lives."
On Saturday, Jeezy returned to Atlanta to further his relief efforts. He was part of an all-star concert lineup that David Banner's Heal the Hood Foundation helped bring together (see "David Banner Says He Has No Choice But To Heal The Hood"). T.I., 8Ball and MJG, Lyfe Jennings, Chopper (a.k.a. Young City), 112, Ali from the St. Lunatics and Big Gipp of Goodie Mob also performed while Lil Jon hosted.
Jeezy — whose current single is "Soul Survivor" — just completed what may be his highest-profile guest appearance to date, rapping on the remix of Mariah Carey's "Shake It Off" along with Jay-Z.
"M.C. hit me up," Jeezy said, explaining how he got down with the track. "When Hov said he was doing it, I was like, 'I'm all for it.' I felt if I'd kept it 'hood, I was gonna be good. I got the feedback from the 'hood, so it's all good. Mariah is known for doing remixes with street cats from Mobb Deep to O.D.B., so to be a part of that was a good look for me and the Def Jam movement."
Jeezy said he hoped that they'd shoot a video for the track so that he could capture the visual of eating Popeye's chicken and drinking Cristal.
Check out the feature "Young Jeezy: Putting His Mouth Where His Money Is" for more on the Snowman.
To find out what you can do to help provide relief to victims of Katrina, head to think MTV's hurricane relief page.