Jeezy embarked on his music career in 2001, as Lil J, with the release of Thuggin' Under the Influence (T.U.I.). He later joined Boyz n da Hood in 2005, the same year his solo major label debut Let's Get It: Thug Motivation 101, was released. Its lead single "Soul Survivor", which features R&B singer Akon, became a top-ten hit in the US. His subsequent albums, The Inspiration (2006) and The Recession (2008), both yielded chart-topping singles. Jeezy has also been featured on numerous hip-hop and R&B hit singles, such as "Say I" by Christina Milian, "I'm So Paid" by Akon, "Hard" by Rihanna and "Love in This Club" by Usher, the latter of which reached number one on the US Billboard Hot 100, in 2008.
Jay Wayne Jenkins was born in Columbia, South Carolina and relocated to Atlanta, Georgia when he was a toddler. Because his parents were separated, custody of him transferred between family members frequently. In an interview with XXL magazine, he described his childhood as "empty". In 1994, he spent nine months in YCA (Youth Challenge Academy), a boot camp in Fort Stewart, Georgia, for narcotics possession.
Jeezy released his first independent album, Thuggin' Under the Influence (T.U.I.), in 2001 under the name Lil J. It featured artists such as Freddy J., Kinky B, Fidank, and Lil Jon, who also produced some of the tracks. In 2003, Jeezy released (also independently) Come Shop wit Me, a two-CD set featuring completely new tracks with some songs from T.U.I. Jeezy signed with Bad Boy Records in 2004 and joined the group Boyz n da Hood, whose self-titled album was released in June 2005 and peaked at #5 on the Billboard 200 albums charts.
In May 2004, Jazze Pha's manager Henry 'Noonie' Lee showed Young Jeezy's demo to his friend Shakir Stewart, Vice President Artist and Repertoire (VP A&R) at Def Jam. Stewart "fell in love with it [the demo] the first time [he] heard it" and took it to L.A. Reid. Reid recognised the talent and gave Stewart the green light to sign him. As the "hottest thing on the street" at the time, various labels - including Warner and Interscope – were after his signature. However, Young Jeezy decided he wanted to be in business with Stewart and Reid. As a result, signed with Def Jam Records.
Young Jeezy's debut single off his debut album, "And Then What" featuring Mannie Fresh, reached #67 on the Billboard Hot 100. Young Jeezy's major label debut, Let's Get It: Thug Motivation 101, was released on July 26, 2005. It debuted at #2 on the Billboard 200, selling 172,000 copies in its first week and was later certified Platinum by the RIAA. The second single off the album, "Soul Survivor" featuring Akon reached #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and would end up becoming Young Jeezy's highest-charting single of his career. The third single, "My Hood", reached #77 on the Billboard Hot 100. In an interview with HitQuarters, A&R Shakir Stewart said that Jeezy had recorded over 60 songs for the album.
In interviews and on several records, Young Jeezy has affirmed his resistance to commercialism in his music.Maintaining his street credibility, according to Young Jeezy, is of the utmost concern to him as an artist. In 2005, Young Jeezy was featured in several popular hip hop songs including Gucci Mane's "Icy" and Boyz n da Hood's "Dem Boyz". Due to having a successful solo career, he left the group.
In 2006, he was featured in Christina Milian's single "Say I". Jeezy's second major label album was The Inspiration, released in on December 12, 2006. It had topped the Billboard 200 with first-week sales of 352,000 copies and would also be certified Platinum by the RIAA. The album's first single "I Luv It" peaked at #14 on the Billboard Hot 100. The second single, "Go Getta" featuring R. Kelly peaked at #18 on the Billboard Hot 100.
He also portrayed himself in the hip-hop fighting themed game Def Jam: Icon. In 2007, Young Jeezy's group U.S.D.A. (alongside Blood Raw and Slick Pulla) released their debut album, Cold Summer. The album debuted at number 4 on the Billboard 200 with 95,000 copies sold in its first week.
Young Jeezy presented a week-long toy drive and charity event series with his CTE family with the first annual Toyz n da Hood toy drive. The series presented 1,000 toys for 1,000 kids at various locations in Macon and Atlanta, which began on December 17, 2007, with the CTE Christmas Kickoff from 10 pm to 5 am at Club Miami. The toy giveaway took place in the Unionville neighborhood of Macon and at the Old Fourth Ward Community in Atlanta.
Young Jeezy's third album, The Recession, was released on September 2, 2008, and would earn him his second consecutive number one album. It topped the Billboard 200 with first-week sales of 260,000 copies and was certified Gold by the RIAA. "Put On" featuring Kanye West was the lead single and had reached #12 on the Billboard Hot 100. It also led to a Grammy Nomination for Best Rap performance by a duo but came short. "Put On" was followed by "Vacation", "Crazy World", "My President" featuring Nas, and "Who Dat" to complete The Recession's singles. Young Jeezy appeared on "Love in This Club" by Usher and "I'm So Paid" by Akon (also with Lil Wayne). "Love in This Club" peaked at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Later, he performed on Ciara's single "Never Ever", from her album Fantasy Ride.
In the summer of 2008, Young Jeezy was at the center of a controversy over his choice for president. While he had previously endorsed Barack Obama, he spoke about meeting and supporting John McCain during an interview with Vibe magazine. The statement caused a stir, and Jeezy quickly clarified his choice, via a viral video. In the four-minute explanation, Jeezy made it clear, Obama was his main choice. "I represent the Democratic party. ... I've never been nor do I ever plan to be a John McCain supporter", the rapper said. "I support Barack Obama."
Jeezy and Jay-Z performed in a concert to celebrate the inauguration of President Barack Obama on January 18, 2009. On The O'Reilly Factor, commentator Bill O'Reilly criticized their performance as a "rant that offended people", but Jeezy responded: "I got white friends. It's nothing like that. I'm a taxpayer, I got a right to voice my opinion at any point in time. I don't think he
It was announced on November 2009 that Jeezy started working on Thug Motivation 103. In March 2010, it was reported that Young Jeezy dropped "Young" from his stage name. Later, Young Jeezy denied the name change and claimed it was just a rumor: however, on the cover for his single "Lose My Mind", his name is printed as "Jeezy". "Lose My Mind" reached #35 on the Billboard Hot 100. On May 17, 2011, Jeezy released the first single for Thug Motivation 103, "Ballin", which features Lil Wayne and had peaked at #57 on the Billboard Hot 100.
On March 4, 2010, Jeezy released the track "Illin", featuring the group Clipse; specifically, Pusha T. On the track Pusha T raps, "No amount of record sales could derail this ...Stuffing dead prezzies in the wall like that Yale bitch..." The line was controversial and many felt the line was in bad taste and demeaned Yale student Annie Le, who was murdered in 2009, by making light of a crime that had grabbed a lot of media attention due to its extremely upsetting and tragic nature. On July 22, 2011, Jeezy released a track called "Shake Life" and was intended to be the second single off Thug Motivation 103, but was later scrapped from the album. On July 26, 2011, Jeezy announced a September 20, 2011 release date for Thug Motivation 103. However the album was pushed back yet again, this time to December 20, 2011. On September 29, 2011, Jeezy released the third single off Thug Motivation 103, named "F.A.M.E." (which is an acronym that stands for Fake Ass Motherfuckers Envy), featuring T.I. It was is the first song appearance from T.I. since being released from prison. On December 20, 2011, the Thug Motivation 103 was finally released, and had debuted at #3 on the Billboard 200 with first-week sales of 233,000 copies and was certified Gold by the RIAA. "I Do" featuring André 3000 and Jay-Z was the fourth single and reached #61 on the Billboard Hot 100. "Leave You Alone" featuring Ne-Yo was released as the fifth single and reached #51 on the Billboard Hot 100. In 2012, Young Jeezy's "I Do" received a Grammy nomination for Best Rap Performance.
In October 2012, Jeezy released a new single called "Get Right" on iTunes and sent it to radio. Shortly after the release of the single it had been confirmed by Jeezy that he had plans of releasing a new mixtape by the end of 2012 as well as a new album in 2013. Later on further details were released that Jeezy's new mixtape was called It's Tha World which was released on December 12, 2012 and is hosted by DJ Drama. The mixtape features 2 Chainz, Trey Songz, Lil Boosie, Birdman, YG and E-40. Production came from Jahlil Beats, The Renegades, DJ Mustard, Warren G, Mike WiLL Made It, Cardo and Black Metaphor.
On August 13, 2013, he released a compilation mixtape with CTE World artists, Doughboyz Cashout and YG titled Boss Yo Life Up Gang. He was featured on both singles "My Nigga" by YG and "Mob Life" by Doughboyz Cashout. On September 17, 2013, Jeezy premiered the first single "In My Head" produced by Childish Major, from his CTE collaboration mixtape "Its Tha World 2". The following day he announced plans to release his next album soon, saying it will detail deeper into his street origins. He revealed that Future, Usher, Ludacris, and Don Cannon would be involved in the album.
On May 30, 2014, Jeezy released the first single "Me Ok" from his upcoming fifth studio album Seen It All: The Autobiography. On July 1, 2014, he released the second single, the title track "Seen It All" featuring Jay-Z. On August 31, 2015, Jeezy announced that he will release a new project entitled Church in These Streets. Four singles were released. The project was released on November 13, 2015. It debuted at #4 on the Billboard 200.
On October 28, 2016, Jeezy released his new album Trap or Die 3, which became available for pre-order on iTunes earlier that month. It debued at number one on the Billboard 200, becoming Jeezy's third album to top the chart. Following the release of Trap or Die 3, Jeezy announced that a new album titled Snow Season which is slated to be released by the end of 2016.