New Jeezy video 'Sweet Life' spotlights criminal justice reform

Story highlights

  • Jeezy released his new music video on Monday
  • CNN's Don Lemon talked to the Atlanta rapper last month

Washington (CNN)Atlanta rapper Jeezy premiered his new music video Monday, which, while highlighting his personal feelings, has a political message regarding criminal justice reform.

The black-and-white video features images of Jeezy reading a newspaper that references youth incarceration, and the video is interspersed with images of police officers arresting a young black man, prisons and gun violence. In a statement announcing the video, Jeezy said his song "Sweet Life" references his own trials and tribulations.
"Ever since I came into this music game, I've tried to make motivational music, whether you're on the corner hustling or in the corner office making power moves," he said in the statement. "'Sweet Life' is no different, but it's a bit more of a personal track because I rap about my own trials and tribulations. I wanted this video, with Janelle Monae, to show what could have happened to me and does happen to African Americans every day."
    He added, "Whether it's the criminal justice system, demonizing hip-hop culture in the media or crime within our own communities, I wanted to address these issues head-on visually."
    The track comes from Jeezy's album "Church In These Streets," which is out now.
    As Black Lives Matter activists rallied at the Mall of America last month to protest the killing of Jamar Clark by police in North Minneapolis last month, CNN's Don Lemon talked to Jeezy, who is an outspoken supporter of the movement.
    "I think that if it only took 20 people to get the attention of CNN and the rest of the world, they're on to a great start," Jeezy said.
    Mall of America officials tried to block the protests, contending the marchers were unlawfully on private property. The protesters then moved from the mall to the Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport.
    "I definitely think the mall should have handled it a lot differently," said Jeezy. The rapper added that he has lost several friends to gun violence over the years, and his music has long wrestled with the themes of what he calls police brutality and civil rights violations.
    Jeezy's song "Streetz" from his "Politically Correct" mixtape takes place in a cemetery, as names of friends killed on the streets flash across the screen.
    The streets are "pretty much a war zone" right now," Jeezy said, and tough times and poverty make people "resort to what they know" -- whether it's selling drugs to get by, stealing or even turning to violence.
    "That's where we draw the line ... We love our kids and we'll protect our kids," said Jeezy, who earlier this week donated toys to over 600 children in his hometown of Macon, Georgia, through his Street Dreamz foundation.
    Jeezy, who has expressed support for Hillary Clinton's presidential bid, slammed Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump. The mogul "should have been out of the race a long time ago because of his actions."
    Trump is running for president "for his business, for his brand," Jeezy said, adding, "When I look at Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, I see people that actually care about the people."