It has been 10 years since Jeezy introduced himself with his solo major-label debut, Let’s Get It: Thug Motivation 101, which helped popularize the trap sound that still dominates rap today. But instead of being content with the sound he pioneered, the 38-year-old is burrowing deeper, finding new spiritual themes on sixth LP Church in These Streets (Nov. 13, Def Jam).
The streets and church don’t typically mix. What inspired the name of your album?
In the South, religion and superstition are the shit. When people get to that place where they feel lost, the first thing they do is go to church. In the streets right now, a lot of people are lost. They ain’t going to come to church, so I’m going to bring the church to the streets.
Are there any similarities between rapping and preaching?
You take on the role of a pastor to the streets. And gospel, it’s that talk, that folk talk, slave talk, if you will. On Church in These Streets, I wanted to bring it together. I wanted to say, “OK, this is our gospel, this is our Sunday service, this is our Bible study, this is what we believe in.”
Your recently released Politically Correct EP is introspective, which is different for you.
Everything that you’re hearing now is me taking the approach of writing songs like a diary. I have a pad; I’ve never had a pad before in my whole life. One of my partners was like: “You’re a poet, you should write in your diary.” So I’m just sitting there and writing it as if I was writing a letter, because I’m good at writing letters.
T.I. recently got himself in a jam by saying he won’t vote for Hillary Clinton because she’s a woman. Do you ever feel pressured to watch what you say and be politically correct?
When I’m on my ignorant shit, I’m just on my ignorant shit. [However], I don’t naturally say things that are going to put me in a situation that I don’t want to be in. You got to say things that you want to stand behind. Barack [Obama] don’t talk crazy, and if he does we’ll never hear it. (Laughs.)
In 2008, you predicted President Obama’s win by releasing “My President Is Black.” What do you think of what he has done?
He did all right for a situation that was messed up. We’re going to have to wait until he’s out of office to see how much of a difference he made. He got less than a year left. He’s got to turn up. He went and got bin Laden. That was a plus. He changed health care. He brought unemployment down.
Would you make a song for Hillary Clinton?
Will I make a song for Hillary? Nah, I wouldn’t. Nah.
Now that you’re writing more, are you reading more, too?
I try to more than I used to. One of my guys out in Los Angeles sends me books every week. He’s a smart dude. I ask him where he get all this information from and he says, “Books, man.” A dude who reads a lot knows everything.