Jeezy might not be young anymore, but he’s still inspirational. The artist formerly known as Young Jeezy, aka Jay Wayne Jenkins, has pumped up a plethora of elite athletes during workouts or before games with his music. LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Ricky Rubio are on record stating that the hip-hop sensation’s anthemic jams help take them to another place on the NBA court.
The recording artist of choice for the Philadelphia-based Temple Owls football team is Jeezy. Jeezy, 37, who has recorded such soaring chart-toppers as “Sole Survivor,” “I Luv It” and “Go Getta,” shocked the Owls recently when he gave the team a motivational speech before they faced 23rd-ranked East Carolina University. The fired-up Owls proceeded to upset ECU. It was their first-ever win over a ranked opponent.
“It was so cool,” Jeezy said. “I think my music can’t help but pump people up,” Jeezy said. “I’ve heard from Carmelo (Anthony). He loves what I do.”
There is something about Jeezy’s catchy, energetic jams. Since he emerged from Atlanta a decade ago, he has consistently penned celebratory, dense and visceral songs.
“I do things a certain way,” Jeezy said. “You know when you hear my music that it’s me. I’m unmistakable.”
Jeezy, who will perform Sunday at the Cotillion, is back with the aptly titled “Seen It All: The Autobiography.” The new tunes are urgent, rousing slices of the unpredictable rapper’s life. “I laid it all out,” Jeezy said. “There are pieces of me all over this one.”
America loves an underdog, and that’s what Jeezy has been since childhood. After emerging out of a hardscrabble early existence, Jeezy has survived. He’s had run-ins with the law, the latest in August when he was arrested on a weapons charge in California.
“I keep coming back to the surface no matter how many times I get dragged down,” Jeezy said. “I’m tough that way. You can’t just give up.”
That was the message Jeezy gave earlier in the month to kids at a juvenile detention center in Detroit. Jeezy delivered a motivational speech filled with hope.
“I told them that this isn’t the end of the world,” Jeezy said. “I told them that it could be worse. But it could be better. They have the ability to make the right decision. I’ve made some bad decisions, and fortunately I’ve had the chance to make the necessary changes.”
Jeezy, who has become one of the elder statesmen of rap, isn’t surprised that he draws well all over the country. “I think that’s because there are hoods everywhere in America,” Jeezy said. “People understand what I’m rapping about. They live what I lived. That stuff never fades from my memory. I put all of that in my music. I think that’s why my songs sound so different from everybody else’s (material). I’m in the Jeezy pocket. There isn’t any other place like that. I come at you from a different direction. Different is a good thing. That stands out in a world where so much sounds the same.”
If you go
When: 8 p.m. Sunday
Where: The Cotillion, 11120 W. Kellogg
Tickets: $31.50-$36.50, www.thecotillion.com, 316-722-4201