Where were you in 2005?
If you’re from where I’m from, you were somewhere bumping Trap of Die, the hottest mixtape of the year, featuring a rapper you had never really heard of before. Yeah you heard him in ’04 on Fabolous’ “Do The Damn Thang”, but you thought he was just another rapper so- so rapper. He did have that voice though.
When Young Jeezy and DJ Drama dropped the Trap or Die mixtape, it took over the streets instantly—nationwide. Since then Mr. 17.5 has been viewed as the quintessential drug rapper. He wears that crown almost effortlessly. Crack seemingly seeps out of his pores.
But don’t get it confused. Young isn’t here to brag about it. He’s been making his purpose in this rap shit clear since the beginning; he’s here to motivate the hood. And who else could wear those shoes. Just check the titles of his first three solo albums: Let’s Get It: Thug Motivation 101, The Inspiration and The Recession. As far as musical motivation, Jeezy is in a lane of his own.
Just ask 8-time Gold medalist Michael Phelps. Jeezy is a multi-platinum artist who raps as if he’s sitting in the unfurnished living room of a trap house in zone 3. Sure there’s a yellow Lambo sitting outside, but it could still go down at any minute.
So in 2008, as the hood is feeling more pain than it has in a long while, would else but Jeezy could talk Ghetto, USA through it. Nas set the tone for awareness over at Def Jam earlier this summer with Untitled. But Nas’ album is more of a statement to the other side; making them aware of what goes on over on this side. The Recession however is addressed directly to the streets. Don’t be mistaken, both albums are equally effective at accomplishing their goals.
On the intro, Jeezy uses the chorus to let you know what time it is :
“It’s a recession, everybody broke/ So I just came back, to give everybody hope.”
He later raps:
“Got a nine left/ just know imma grind that till I ain’t got dime left/Speaking of dime left/ nah I ain’t got a nine left/ had to pay up my bills now I ain’t gotta dime left.”
On “Circulate”, which features a hot sample from Billy Paul’s “Let the Dollar Circulate,” Jeezy keeps the theme going: “Got me looking at my stash like ‘where the fuck is the rest at’/ look at my watch like it’s a bad investment/ speaking investments, we speaking investments?/ my re-up money yeah I’m trying to invest it.”
In today’s rap game you rarely hear an artist able to speak from that vantage point. But Jeezy is the rare grounded rapper who has proven that he represents the struggle.
The Reccesion also takes time to address a few other issues on Jeezy’s mind. On “Wordplay” he takes aim at the critics who have accused him of being a poor lyricist and charge him with killing hip hop. He takes aim back though:
“Young killed hip hop/ don’t you know this dumb nigga still talking crack rock/ he got everybody following so that makes him the leader/ that means he gotta get indicted just to make you a believer…You can’t be serious/ what if Pac was hearing this?/ You bullshitting me/ I’m sure Biggie would agree/ if he had to pass the torch then that bitch would go to me/ now wouldn’t you agree, doesn’t matter I accept.”
That’s big talk. But he’s earned the right to say it and believe it.
You’ll probably read a lot of other reviews of this album that will say this album is the same ol’ same sol’ and it just may sound like that to them. But Ghetto, USA should love this album. And isn’t that who the album is made for?
Hov told us a long time ago: “How you rate music that thugs with nothing relate to?/ I help them see their way through it, not you”
You do the math.
Jeezy’s team of producers gave him exactly what he needed: beats he sounds best on. He’s not here to be Outkast and be super experimental. He stayed in his lane that carved out for himself.
He’s on it and focused this album. He’s getting nice. Without the takeaway of falsification or exaggeration.
Best tracks: Circulate, Wordplay, Put On (Remix) iTunes Bonus track