Childhood & Early Life
Young Jeezy was born as Jay Wayne Jenkins on September 28, 1977, in Columbia, South Carolina. Soon after his birth, his parents, who were not married, separated. His mother took him to her home in Georgia, where she raised him with the help of her mother. He was often juggled between other family members as well.
As a young boy he was drawn to rap music as hip-hop songs were popular in the area he grew up.
He was raised in poverty, which led him to earn money through unlawful means like selling illegal cell phones and dealing in drugs. When he was a teenager, he moved to Atlanta where he continued to deal in drugs.
In 1994, he was sent to Youth Challenge Academy for nine months for possession of narcotics. During this time, he decided to let go of his dark past and rebuild his life.
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Young Jeezy was good with words, and had a sense of melody that led him into the music industry. With a friend, he started a music company called Corporate Thugz Entertainment in 1998. But soon he was bored sitting behind the desk, and wanted to step into the limelight as a performer.
He released his first independent album, ‘Thuggin' Under the Influence’ in 2001. In 2003, he released ‘Come Shop wit Me’, independently. It featured new tracks with some songs from the first album.
In 2004, he signed with Bad Boy Records, and joined the group Boyz n da Hood. Their self-titled album was released in June 2005, which peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard 200 charts.
In 2005, he signed with Def Jam Records, and released his debut single from his debut album, ‘And Then What’. It reached No. 67 on the Billboard Hot 100. ‘Let's Get It: Thug Motivation 101’ is his debut studio album, which was released on July 26, 2005. It debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200.
His second single, ‘Soul Survivor’, from the album ‘Let's Get It: Thug Motivation 101’ peaked at No. 4 on Billboard Hot 100 and became the highest-charting single of his career so far. The third single of the album, ‘My Hood’, peaked at No.77 on the Billboard Hot 100.
In 2005, he featured in several popular hip hop songs like Boyz n da Hood's ‘Dem Boyz,’ and Gucci Mane's ‘Icy’. He then quit the group and formed his own group U.S.D.A. (United Street Dopeboyz of America).
His second major label album ‘The Inspiration’ was released on December 12, 2006, and topped Billboard 200 chart. In 2007, his group U.S.D.A. released its debut album, ‘Cold Summer’, which debuted at No. 4 on Billboard 200.
His third album, ‘The Recession’, was released on September 2, 2008, and debuted at No. 1 on Billboard 200 chart. The lead single ‘Put On’ peaked at No.12 on Billboard Hot 100. The other singles were ‘Vacation’, ‘Crazy World’, ‘My President’, and ‘Who Dat’.
Jeezy appeared on ‘Love in This Club’ by Usher and ‘I'm So Paid’ by Akon. The former peaked at No.1 on Billboard Hot 100. ‘Lose My Mind’ is the first single from his album, ‘Thug Motivation 103: Hustlerz Ambition’. ‘Lose My Mind’ peaked at No. 35 on Billboard Hot 100.
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On May 17, 2011, the single ‘Ballin’ from ‘Thug Motivation 103’, was released, and peaked at No. 57 on Billboard Hot 100. On July 22, 2011, he released a track ‘Shake Life’, which was supposed to be featured in the album but was later dropped. On September 29, 2011, the single ‘F.A.M.E.’ was released. The fourth single ‘I Do’ peaked at No. 61 on Billboard Hot 100. ‘Leave You Alone’, the fifth single peaked No. 51 on Billboard Hot 100.
The ‘Thug Motivation 103’ album was released on December 20, 2011, and debuted at No. 3 on Billboard 200. In October 2012, he released a new single ‘Get Right’ on iTunes. His new mixtape ‘It's Tha World’ was released on December 12, 2012.
On August 13, 2013, he released a compilation mixtape with CTE World artists, and was featured on singles like ‘My Nigga’ and ‘Mob Life’. On September 17, 2013, his single ‘In My Head’ was released.
On May 30, 2014, he released the first single ‘Me Ok’ from his upcoming fifth studio album ‘Seen It All: The Autobiography’. The second single, ‘Seen It All’ was released on July 1, 2014. A new project, ‘Church in These Streets’, was released on November 13, 2015, which debuted at No. 4 on Billboard 200. Four other singles were also released soon after.
His new album ‘Trap or Die 3’ was released on October 28, 2016, which debuted at No. 1 on Billboard 200.
Young Jeezy’s album ‘Let's Get It: Thug Motivation 101’ sold 172,000 copies in the first week and was eventually certified Platinum by RIAA.
‘The Inspiration’ sold 352,000 copies in the first week, and was certified Platinum by RIAA. The album's first single ‘I Luv It’ peaked at No. 14 on Billboard Hot 100, and the second single, ‘Go Getta’ peaked at No. 18 on Billboard Hot 100.
His group U.S.D.A.’s debut album, ‘Cold Summer’ sold 95,000 copies in the first week. His third album, ‘The Recession’ sold 260,000 copies in the first week, and was certified Gold by RIAA. It topped the Billboard 200 as well.
His album ‘Thug Motivation 103’ sold 233,000 copies in the first week, and was certified Gold by RIAA.
Personal Life & Legacy
Young Jeezy is known for his kindness—he opened his house to the victims of Hurricane Katrina as a temporary shelter to stay. He also arranged for 12 trucks full of food, water, and clothing which he sent to the survivors.
In March 2005, he was arrested for carrying firearm without permit. However, his case was dropped due to lack of evidence.
In 2006, he launched his own clothing line and wanted to name it USDA. When the U.S. Department of Agriculture objected, he named it ‘8732’—the numbers associated with the alphabets USDA on a mobile phone.
He has two sons—Jadarius Jenkins and Shyheim Jenkins. On January 4, 2014, he was arrested for alleged battery, false imprisonment, and terrorist threats to his son Jadarius. Young Jeezy was later released on a bond of $45,000.