Interview

Jeezy Interview for Brick Mag

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Profiled the hustle god Young Jeezy for Brick. Available in UK and US stores, or pre-order here.

Here's a snippet too. 

Tech has Steve Jobs, Buddhists have the Dalai Lama, the streets have Jeezy. Trap’s avowed saint, his voice scolds subwoofers like hot coal. Each rasped ad-lib is a street mantra. Every “aye” or “let’s get it” a firm earworm, sticking to the synapses and energising dopeboys. Harder than mortar, renowned for flipping bricks of another kind, Jeezy’s perpetually consistent. The Snowman has soundtracked more white powder than Frosty. But it’s more than that. Whether flipping rock or real estate, Jay Wayne Jenkins embodies the grind. He’s the street dream, the late shift, the second job on a Sunday, the determination to succeed and the hustle to do it. Who else took a pay cut to pursue music and picked Birdman up in a Porsche before fame, just to stunt? Who else negotiated simultaneous contracts with L.A Reid and Diddy, counted America’s most infamous cartel B.M.F as allies and bought two million of real cash to a cover shoot because he didn’t want any fakery? Only Jeezy.

Now 40, and pursuing a tenth street sermon, the Snowman’s an industry vet. From grams to Grammy nominations, number one albums to false arrests and public beef, he’s seen it all. Jeezy should be satisfied, at peace. But that’s not how the resolute hustler operates, he’s addicted to adversity. Years of pot whipping and pistol gripping will do that. “I just feel like you should never stop challenging yourself, that had a lot to do with my success. Just being put in predicaments that I could figure or navigate myself through, that’s the excitement.” Talking to Jeezy is like attending a prime motivational seminar, minus cheering moms and regrettable instalment fees. A hood Tony Robbins, his conversation makes you want to be better, try harder, do more. We half-joke about starting an advice column. Every other line is quotable. He means it too. “Your next move has got to be your best move, especially if you’re from where we’re from. It’s always about getting to that next level, surrounding yourself with the right things. How can you push yourself to do something you’ve never done before? That’s what it’s always about.”

 

Off season, but on track: Autumn In June

Off season, but on track: Autumn In June

In the tabloid imagination, the underprivileged are depicted as degenerates. Ghetto inhabitants are lazy and stupid. Crips and Bloods are sociopaths and junkies are two-legged invertebrates. Reality isn’t so monochrome. Every shooter, look-out, corner boy and Capo is a breathing contradiction. Gangsters can be articulate, complex and emotional. Autumn in June adds to the alternate reality.

Despite sharing Ice Cube’s proving grounds and dabbling in hip-hop, he’s more Morrissey than Mack 10. “When I was younger, everybody tries to box you, especially when you come from certain places. Once you start letting that get to you, that shit is miserable. It’s the worst thing ever.” A Phil Collins stan, Autumn grips synthesizer not Glock. When friends repped the set, he hustled studio time, even working out of a trap house on unused equipment. The Mexican American produced for Suga Free as a teenager, but accelerated toward a synth highway.

Wishing to keep personal and musical tangents separate, Autumn’s true name is unknown. He focuses on art, rather than earthly details. The wistful singer’s identity is cloaked under a haze of Daft Punk, Prince and a little Depeche Mode. Debut Magenta is equal measures love lost and carnality. Narcotic episodes are recalled under neon afterglow and music to step to. This ying and yang is deliberate.

“The songwriter part of my brain is a sad soul, it’s very personal, but the producer side of me, I love happy melodies. I love to make that type of music and they both connect.” A capable beat-smith, Autumn traverses electronica’s borders, delving into new wave on “Starlight” and channeling Nile Rodgers’ boogie licks on “I Guess It’s Cool To Be Lonely.” He flexes production dexterity across 12 tracks, dabbling in trap, dance and mild dubstep. For those recoiling at the latter, these trials are a brief foray rather than seismic bass wobble. Standout tunes invoke moonman Giorgio Moroder’s Italo disco, launching into space bound synths. “Cocaine 80s” and “You’re A Model Too” mesh danceable robot-rock with moody reflection.

The 20 something fully composed, performed and engineered Magneta, opting for totalitarian approach. “The album is 100% for me. I don’t usually make music for people, I make it for myself and that’s the only way to stay true to it.” Raised in the streets, yet undefined by his past, Autumn’s odes oppose hood stereotypes. Once again, 2Pac’s message is proven true, thugs get lonely too.

People from rough areas are usually portrayed as hardened gangstas. Someone such as yourself show there’s diversity everywhere.

It’s crazy, a lot of media portrays that. Guys need to be tough, when they need to be tough, but people are real people. Criminals are seen as the worst thing ever, but it’s rarely like that. Some people have their good days and their goofy sides. I’ve known friends that are super goofy and love to be playing, but when it comes down to it they turn up and they get with it. I guess there’s a certain thing that a lot of people think because you’re from a certain area, you’re all violent and extra out there. But I feel like everybody in their own mind, not everybody is just angry like all the time. It’s human nature that people look to have fun and they do things they enjoy. There’s obviously people here and there, but that’s in every community, even in rich communities, there’s people that just love violence.  

Dam Funk In Brick Vol #3

While galavanting around LA last year, I was lucky enough to interview Dam Funk. 

Los Angeles is inherently funky. Remnants of the paisley era occupy the city’s 500-mile radius. It’s in the fluorescent sun- set, Dre’s gangsta bounce and sporadic Impalas sweltering on palm lined avenues. As traffic crawls over motorways and humidity distorts the horizon, rare stations transmit bygone grooves. The zenith might be over, but funk is vital to Ca- li’s hub. Pasadena native Damon Riddick understands this. As Dâm-Funk, he’s advanced the genre more than anyone in the last decade. Yet, the modern funkster may never see his deserved recognition.

No fads, no sell-outs, integrity, sincerity, funk-first. Dâm’s unyielding values and uplifting tunes energise masses. Flick through social media and you’ll find someone who re- bukes fame’s façade. Riddick speaks as someone working in the industry, but not of the industry. His feed is stacked with virtuous mantras, every acknowledgement of success pref- aced by “humbly speaking.” Truly uncommon in an attention craving curriculum, Dâm is about his craft above all. In per- son, he exerts a passion for music, often claimed, but rarely possessed. When we convene at his favorite spot, The Cork in humble Ladera Heights, Riddick spends the first 30 minutes curating an afternoon soundtrack. The bar’s NFL commentary is silenced for a groove history lesson, but no one utters a complaint. You can’t fault Dâm for commandeering the juke- box, he’s more than earned it.

For the full piece, you can purchase Brick here. There's tons of great photography and articles better than mine.