There's Nobody Like Jeezy: How the Trap Legend Got His Groove Back

Just when you thought Jeezy placed his jersey in the rafters with his swan song TM 104 last year, the trap master released his seven-track EP Twenty/20 Pyrex Vision on Friday (March 28). Not only is Jeezy back on the scene slinging grandeur street raps for his rabid fan base, but he’s doing it independently and with his longtime producer Shawty Redd.

“I know my day-one fans, and they know the day-one me, so this is back to square one,” Jeezy tells Billboard in an exclusive interview. “I just wanted to get back in with Shawty. It’s been a while since we did our formula, which was like, no A&Rs involved, no outside input. It was just me and him — him making the beats and actually recording me and engineering it, and me just coming with my thought process with no monetary gain in mind. It was pure.”

Laced with ironclad raps about chasing financial freedom and flexing on your haters (“Billions” and “First Mind”), Jeezy’s delivery remains sturdy and supple, while Redd’s booming trap sounds harken back to the days of TM: 101 and The Inspiration, making the duo’s return a splashy one. “There’s nobody that can make Jeezy music, especially Jeezy, Shawty Redd music,” gushes Jeezy. “It’s an acquired taste, but you gotta been riding with us day one to know what that is.”

With the crippling effects of COVID-19 rattling the nation every day, Jeezy hopes fans can be resourceful and “forward-thinking” during this pandemic. From DJ Nice’s jamming quarantine house parties to the flurry of Instagram battles by songwriters and producers, Jeezy is relishing hip-hop’s abilities to adjust amid the dark times.

“If you can hustle from your house or make moves from your house the same way you would if you were running around the streets and get it done, that’s a whole other game,” he offers. “If you’re watching everybody collaborating with each on IG, you’re seeing DJ battles, R&B battles, you ain’t see that. They’re innovative. They’re creative.”

Jeezy also suggests throwing Shawty Redd’s name into the ring for any producer matchups, even offering a tag-team matchup alongside T.I. against any trap twosome. “I just love the idea of being able to showcase our talents,” he says. “It’s music. Music gets us through wars. You know, during the hardest times [like] The Great Depression, it was music.”

The rapper also reflects on Nipsey Hussle, who died one year ago on March 31.  Speaking highly of the West Coast MC, Jeezy refers to him as an “ambitious a– kid that really knew what he wanted” and why “he was one of a kind to me.”

“I remember when Nip got his deal at Atlantic, and he told me about it,” recalls Jeezy. “He was like, ‘I’m gonna announce it in a year.’ I was kind of like, ‘You’re gonna wait for a year?’ He was like, ‘Yeah, I’m gonna wait until I drop my album.’ So he was patient enough to wait for a whole entire year to announce that he had a deal.”

He adds: “Everybody loved Nip. Nobody had anything bad to say. We all wish we can have that legacy when we’re not here anymore, that you still get love and respect ’cause people appreciated your energy.”

Watch the full interview above, and listen to Twenty/20 Pyrex Vision below.