Interview: Shy Glizzy Talks New Mixtape ‘Young Jefe,’ Meeting Birdman And President Obama’s New Plan

The theme of Shy Glizzy’s most recent mixtape, Young Jefe, spawned from a conversation he had with Birdman in Miami on New Year’s Eve. While Glizzy wouldn’t share exactly what the Big Tymer said to him, it’s evident their discussion has had an instrumental effect on his music.

“A conversation with Birdman will change your life,” says Glizzy as he recalls his first encounter with the Cash Money Records Co-founder. “I haven’t been out the studio since I met Birdman. Not a day has gone passed; man, that shit gave me too much motivation.”

Glizzy, 21, is a prominent voice for the youth in the nation’s capital. After a robbery charge sent him to a juvenile detention center, he turned to rapping to avoid the negative temptations his neighborhood presented. His music has become an outlet for his aggression and a vivid portrayal of the drug exchange and violence that plagues the streets of Washington, D.C.

With four fiery mixtapes under his belt and a host of high-profile endorsements, Shy Glizzy seems to be on his way. But can his signature high-pitched voice and crime-laden lyrics help him achieve success above the underground and outside of the district? Only time will tell.

VIBE caught up with the Young Jefe, to talk about his new mixtape, the support he’s received from other rappers and one of President Obama’s latest initiatives. – Christopher Harris

VIBE: How does it feel to have this new mixtape out? It’s being played on the radio and it’s getting a lot of attention, how does that feel?
Shy Glizzy: It feels good. It’s definitely an honor. I appreciate all the love, that’s what I was working for.

What’s your favorite track on Young Jefe and why?
“Free the Gang,” that’s my favorite song because it’s so real. All my music is real, it’s authentic but it’s something about that song that I love.

What is it about that song?
The reality of it, all my homies threw their life away and I’m out here thuggin’ by myself. I like the whole tape but “Free the Gang” is definitely something that I ride to everyday. I like “Awwsome,” “Medallin,””White Girl.”

Plies is featured on “Free the Gang,” how did it feel to work with him?
I did a song for him and he did a song for me. It was definitely cool working with him because that’s somebody I used to listen to before I was rapping.

Where did the title Young Jefe come from?
Young boss, I really just make music based on where I’m at right now in my life. The music is on some boss shit. As I’m working on my next project, the title will have to be whatever I’m going through.

When did rap become a reality for you?
About four years ago, I came home off a little robbery charge. Juvenile shit and I found something better to do but I really took it serious once the people started fucking with me.

What was it about that incident that made you want to get into rap?
It made me want it but as I seen the response that I was getting, that made me really want it. People were looking at me different in the streets, they showed me love, that meant a lot to me, that was my motivation.

Along with rapping, you often mention trapping a lot in your lyrics. When did that lifestyle begin for you?
I was a born trapper. We were born off the porch. I was born into that lifestyle. I was going to school with thick pockets at 12 years old in 7th grade. I’ve been doing that shit forever.

President Obama has a new program called “My Brother’s Keeper” to help young black men going through hardships. Do you think something like that would’ve helped you out growing up?
Hell yea. I would love to be a part of something like that. If we had something like that coming up, it definitely would’ve made a difference.

So, do you think this program will be useful for young black men in the future?
Yeah, it’ll definitely be useful. Shout out to Obama. Young niggas don’t have no guidance these days, so they definitely need that.

What’s it like to have a lot of money at a young age?
It’s a wonderful feeling. That’s why I’m so humble and I’m ready for whatever comes my way. A lot of niggas ain’t fortunate to have that. It comes and goes.

Young Jefe features a few shout outs from rappers like Yo Gotti, Birdman and others, how does it feel to receive respect from artists of that stature?
It’s a wonderful feeling. Those are people I used to look at like ‘damn, look at how they’re living.’ I come from the other side. I don’t come from that life. So, being able to see that shit, it just made me work harder and get in the studio. I haven’t been out the studio since I met Birdman. Not a day has gone passed. At first I wasn’t even in the studio like that but after I met him, man that shit gave me too much motivation.

When did you meet Birdman?
I brought in new years with him. I brought in 2014 with Young Money – Cash Money. That’s where Young Jefe came from.

Did you guys get a chance to talk?
Hell yea. A conversation with him will change your life, that’s all I’mma say.

Can you share any details on that conversation?
Just know that I’m coming man.

Earlier on in your career you started off with that “3 milli” video, which was a diss track at Chief Keef. Where does that stand right now?
Nah, I’m passed that I ain’t on that shit. I’m worried about myself. Glizzy gang, that’s it. I’m not worried about no other rappers.

Wale once said he felt like there was more hate in D.C. than love. Do you feel the same way or has the fans reaction to you been different?
True fact. I mean the love that I get outweighs the hate. It’s a true fact for most people from here. But me being in the position I’m in, streets love me, streets love Glizzy but there’s a lot of motherfuckers that hate me too. One of my haters equals a million people that love me.

What’s next for Glizzy?
Music, music and more music. At the beginning of the year, I said I was going to be the biggest young nigga in the game. That’s the goal and that’s gon’ happen. I’mma be the biggest young nigga in the game. Right here from DC, they ain’t gon’ never see nothing like it… ever.