Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Jeezy
Life is coming full circle for Jeezy.
On Friday, the rapper, 43, released his new album The Recession 2, the follow-up to his 2008 album The Recession, which was born from memories of his childhood.
"My uncles and people that I respected always played music from all these different singers — like Curtis Mayfield, Bobby Womack — who really talked about pain and what was going on in the world," Jeezy tells PEOPLE. "I know how that music made me feel. It made me feel strong. It made me feel powerful. It made me feel like I can do anything because it felt like being a Black man."
"I only got that feeling when I was riding in my uncle's old school Delta Oldsmobile, when he was dressed up in his best clothes and he had his shades on, and he was looking real Black Panther," he adds. "I was like, 'That's who I want to be when I grow up: a strong Black man.' That's what this [album] embodies."
Both Recession albums, Jeezy says, "capture" the place in time in which they were made.
"On my first Recession album, we were rejoicing because Barack Obama just got into office, and there was a new regime," he says. "[Recession 2] is different. Four months ago, we were marching, rioting, fighting, protesting in the middle of a pandemic, dealing with racial issues and dealing with a presidential leader that wasn't being presidential with not telling the general public about the coronavirus to basically drawing a line trying to divide and conquer."
"You had things like the Breonna Taylor murder, you had Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, " he continues. "All these things happened during the pandemic. I wanted to embody what it was like for my people to witness all of that. I also wanted to start the celebration process because with everybody getting out to vote and doing their part, we turned Georgia blue. We now have a Black Vice President who is a woman."
Though Jeezy doesn't think that President-elect Joe Biden is the "end all be all," he is happy the country is making steps in the right direction.
"I was more excited about the fact that people actually got a chance to see that their vote counted," he says. "When it got down to the wire, we saw how every individual vote counted. What I loved about Joe Biden's speech was that he credited the African American community because he understands we do have value and significance in this. I just was happy for people to see that every little bit counts."
Ahead of the album release last week, Jeezy debuted his new single titled "Therapy For My Soul," which was written while he was "dealing with things internally."
"I'm a very private person and I'm public, so a lot of things that happened in my past, I never spoke on," he says. "I had a friend of mine that told me about therapy and how it worked for him, and I said, 'You know what? I'm going to let the world be my therapist. I'm just going to tell them how I truly feel about these things that I've heard about over the years that I've never spoke on.' So I just wanted to clear my head and get this stack of bricks off my back, and that's what that was."
He's also excited that fans can now hear one of his favorite songs on the album, "Almighty Black Dollar" with Rick Ross.
"I feel like it's going to be the anthem," he says. "It's going to be the anthem for getting back out here, getting on top of our entrepreneurship, building our businesses, building our Black dollar, uplifting our communities, putting our people in power, putting the right people in office ... whatever it is, that's the mission we're on. We are the culture, we shift things. We say what's fashion. We say what's cool. We say what's music. We make these brands billions of dollars."
"Even with the election, we saw that," he adds. "We were instrumental in what happened. So that's what this record is about: us being the vessels that make these things cool around the world, and make these brands all this money. So 'Almighty Black Dollar' is one of my favorites."
Another of his favorites is his collaboration with Demi Lovato on the album, called "My Reputation."
"It's like one of those songs my uncle used to ride around and play for me in that Oldsmobile," he says. "This album is me basically picking everybody up who wants to ride, and letting them hop in the passenger seat of that Oldsmobile that you see on the front cover, and letting them ride a couple of blocks with me so I can inspire them to be strong too. I'm bringing you with me."
In addition to the new album, Jeezy has been busy with his (Re)Session podcast, his Fox Soul talk show, Worth a Conversation, his executive position at Def Jam Records and, of course, planning his wedding with fiancée Jeannie Mai.
"I try to stay out of that, but Jeannie and I are a team," he says, "So she definitely throws things at me and I'm like, 'I like that' or 'I don't know about that.' It's definitely a team effort, because everything we do, we do as a unit."
The Recession 2 is out now.