Music Reviews
Young Jeezy

Young Jeezy

The Recession

Def Jam/Universal/Corporate Thugz Entertainment

To anyone that has heard Let’s Get It: Thug Motivation 101 or The Inspiration: Thug Motivation 102, The Recession may seem like an unlikely title for a Young Jeezy Album. “Mr. 17.5” has made himself a household name extolling the virtues of selling cocaine. In fact, to this point, trapping has defined Young Jeezy’s aesthetic. But his third album, The Recession sees Jeezy successfully adding some new skills to his hip-hop resume.

Fast money, fast cars, and fast women are still the objects of Jeezy’s ambition, but The Recession finds these pursuits interrupted by the realities of America’s recent economic downturn. Now “The Snowman” aims to let the rest of us know that hustlers are feeling the pinch too. Communicating this while maintaining a Miami Vice swagger is the album’s biggest challenge and its biggest success.

Tracks like “The Recession,” “Crazy World,” and “Circulate,” juxtapose the anxiety of constantly coming up a few dollars short with the patented trap or die braggadocio of “Welcome Back,” “What They Want,” and “Word Play.” But instead of sounding like a schizophrenic diatribe, the result is an album that articulates times are hard without coming off as whiny. What is most impressive is the apparent ease with which Jeezy does it all: barking out “Even though the money’s slow, it’s still spendin’!” on the anthemic “Crazy World.”

Jeezy does take a break from his “motivating” narrative with mixed results. “Everything” and “Takin’ it There” cast Jeezy as Romeo, as he directs his attention to the ladies (with assistance from Anthony Hamilton and Lil Boosie, and Trey Songz, respectively). The songs, though a bit unimaginative, do work; but not as much as “Vacation,” which finds Jeezy crooning a la Yung Joc on “A Couple Grand.” Strangely, “Vacation” not only survives, it thrives, simultaneously slapping like a ‘hood classic while retaining the distinctive vibe of a crossover hit. Unfortunately “Amazin’” and “Hustlaz Ambition” fail to fully recapture the thrills of Thug Motivation or the immediacy of the rest of The Recession.

Musically, Young Jeezy has successfully combined the adrenaline pumping drum machine patterns and gothic synthesizer riffs of his debut with the funky soul samples of his sophomore album. Producers DJ Toomp, Shawty Red, J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League, and Drumma Boy’s tracks all congeal into a distinctive and enjoyable narrative, highlighted by the undeniably tight Don Cannon-produced “Circulate” with its infectious bass line, sparse hand claps, and boisterous sampled horns.

All told The Recession is a progression for Young Jeezy. Songs like “What They Want” and “Word Play” show an increased lyrical proficiency while the Kanye West-assisted “Put On” shows he has not lost the knack for making gangster pop that his fans have come to love. Yet it is ultimately the maturity of tracks like “My President” (featuring Nas) that best demonstrate that Young Jeezy has more than one hustle. Perhaps hard times do bring out the best in all of us.

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