When it comes to crafting trap anthems that speak straight to the soul, Jeezy never fails to deliver. Born Jay Wayne Jenkins in 1977, the MC got started pushing mixtapes in his native Atlanta, generating enough regional fame to score a stint in Diddy-signed Southern gangsta group Boyz N Da Hood. But in 2005, Jeezy went solo with Let’s Get It: Thug Motivation 101, which laid bare his dedication to providing hustlers of all kinds with a soundtrack for grinding toward their dreams. Accented by his signature, growled-out “yeahhh” ad lib, single “Soul Survivor” epitomized Jeezy’s authentic adherence to the G-code through vividly detailed scenes of street struggles, tough triumphs, and the emotional toll of it all. He doubled down on 2008’s The Recession, but also flexed his famous deadpan humor on tracks like “Put On,” an impassioned ode to representing one’s city that features an Auto-Tuned Kanye West and manages to turn references to NASA and celery into legit boasts. After a steady stream of consistently gritty releases, Jeezy achieved a new level of tenacity on 2016’s Trap Or Die 3, which unleashed production hulking enough to match the man’s established gravitas (see bass-heavy hood hymn “All There” with late ATL trapper Bankroll Fresh). Though deeply Southern, Jeezy remains hip-hop’s guiding light for the streets at large, encouraging listeners and peers alike to elevate with every breath they take, no matter the circumstances.
BORNSeptember 28, 1977