Jeezy explains why he decided to make "Trap or Die 3" nearly twelve years after releasing the first "Trap or Die."
In 2005, Jeezy released Trap Or Die. In 2010, he released Trap Or Die 2: By Any Means Necessary. Last Friday, he released Trap Or Die 3. During HNHH's digital cover story interview with Jeezy, we asked him about revisiting one of his flagship mixtape series and how he looks at Trap or Die 3 in the context of his career. Here's what he had to say:
Why did you decide to revisit the 'Trap or Die' mixtape series?
My last album was Church in the Streets. I felt like that was needed -- [with] what was going on in the world at the time, you feel me. So it was like… My music is for the times, so if I feel a way about something, I’m very passionate about it; it’s not rap, it’s life to me. So when I did Church in the Streets, that’s where I felt the world was at. It was probably a little bit before its time. That’s just where my mind state was.
But coming on Trap or Die 3, you know I’m listening, watching the game, listening to how everything goes, and it kind of dawned on me that a lot of these cats are trying to be somebody I was when I came in the game -- 10 years ago. And even then, the reason why I went so hard is because I felt like it was being represented in a way that it could’ve been represented a little bit better. So Trap or Die 3 is basically taking the big homie stance and saying, you know, when it comes to this, I’m iconic. I do this shit better than anybody ‘cause this is what the fuck I do. For me, [it was a] real thought process of going in and making something that could and should be an album, but in the rawest mixtape form possible. So, you know, no cut, no outside direction, no outside production, just all Jeezy shit. And that’s what we did.
Looking back at the first 'Trap or Die' -- what did that tape do for your career? And now with Part 3, is this a way to keep that same spirit but with everything you’ve learned since then?
This the big homie stage. When I came in the game, I was just a wild, young motherfucker with some money. But to answer your question, the difference is is that I’m a lot wiser now. I understand all my trials and tribulations was for me to get to where I’m at now. But to answer your question about the first one, that shit [Trap or Die] totally changed my life. It went from me just running around Atlanta with some paper and a dream to me actually being able to stand on stage and do what I love. Me actually being able to, you know, represent for my city in the way that people really wanted to move there and see that shit -- firsthand.
And a lot of what I was doing was so authentic and real, it put me in a lot of fucked up situations. ‘Cause it was do or die -- meaning if it didn’t work then I was probably gonna go to prison ‘cause I had told too much, you feel what I’m saying, so I really couldn’t go back and do what I was into anyway ‘cause now everybody know who the fuck I am. And every word, every bar, every ad-lib in that first Trap or Die -- I was really coming from a place, like, if they never hear me again, they gonna feel me now. ‘Cause I didn’t know what was gonna happen. I didn’t know if I was gonna go to prison, I didn’t know if I was gonna get killed, I didn’t know if I was just gonna be fucked up out here, so I just gave it everything I had.
And that just put me in a place, you know -- 10 years, 12 years to this day I can still do those songs on stage and people still love ‘em. Play it in the club, people still love ‘em. And with that being said, that’s how I feel about this. I’m back to that shit. I’m back to that guy who’s focused on just “this” and nothing else. So you niggas in trouble. You in trouble! If you ain’t on your shit, I’m ‘bout to make you get on your shit. Ain’t no more cheating, you know what I’m saying. You coming hard or you going home. Period. Point blank.
Was it hard to make a project like 'Trap or Die 3' right after you made 'Church in the Streets'?
When you learn how to ride a bike, you know how to ride that bike. When you hit that pot, you know how to hit that pot. It never leaves. That’s the shit that gets me excited. I’m a hustler. It was that much easier.
The studio was small, it was dark, it was grimy. No big SSL board or expensive shit. Just what we call the shoe box. We had the shoe box working day and night, leaving that motherfucker at 9 or 10 in the morning, coming back at 3 in the evening. Ready to do it again. The hustle and grind. I love that shit. It’s my thing. I slept on my grandma’s couch for damn near ten years and wouldn’t get in the bed cause I wanted to be the first one up grinding. It just brought back that kind of feeling. That hunger, that excitement about what can you make the next day or how this song gonna play out.
Read Jeezy's HNHH digital cover story here and watch the interview and cover shoot BTS videos below.