Jeezy Says Fiancée Jeannie Mai Is 'Back in Full Force' After Emergency Surgery: 'She's Fearless'

Brianne Tracy
·7 min read

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Jeezy has found a fellow "Soul Survivor" in fiancée Jeannie Mai.

The rapper, 43, tells PEOPLE that The Real host, 41, is doing "better" after undergoing emergency surgery earlier this month for epiglottitis, a potentially life-threatening condition that occurs when the epiglottis — a small cartilage lid that covers the windpipe — swells and blocks the flow of air into the lungs, according to Mayo Clinic.

"She's at about 180 percent," Jeezy says. "She's very strong. She's fearless."

As a result of Mai's diagnosis, she had no choice but to withdraw from competing on season 29 of Dancing with the Stars, which Jeezy (born Jay Wayne Jenkins) says was "so hard" for her.

"I saw how much she put into it, and it was real for her," he says. "We had a real talk and I had to tell her, 'Your life comes first.' She's not a quitter — she's a winner. I'm glad she's on my team because she does not quit. I'm just happy she's back in full force and ready to take the world once again."

Gilbert Carrasquillo/GC Images Jeannie Mai and Jeezy

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For having to experience the marriage vow of being together "in sickness and in health" ahead of their wedding, Jeezy says, "I think we did okay!"

Just as Jeezy was there for Mai through her surgery, she was there for him as he created his new album The Recession 2, out Friday.

"I remember just sitting here in the living room one day like, 'Yo, I got to go to Atlanta, I got a lot of stuff in my mind, I got a lot of stuff in my heart, and I need to get it off,'" Jeezy says. "She said, 'Yeah, I've been seeing you walking and pacing and saying things to yourself.' She was so down like, 'Let's go.'"

"We got on a plane together and came to Atlanta," he continues. "The first day I landed, I got right in the studio, and I didn't leave until the album was done. She supported me the whole time. It was really a great process, if I'm honest."

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The host of 'The Real' and rapper/philanthropist confirmed their romance last August

The idea for Recession 2, the follow-up to his 2008 album The Recession, 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 says. "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 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."

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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."

Earlier this week, Jeezy released his new single from the album 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 looking forward to fans hearing 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, wedding planning.

"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 debuts Friday.