Young Jeezy: The Recession (Album Review)

Young Jeezy has a problem. Since the Georgia native blindsided the national Hip-Hop scene with 2005’s Let’s Get It: Thug Motivation 101, there have been countless peers who have appropriated his raspy voice and ad lib centered flow to craft their own hits.

Jeezy reaffirmed his position with 2006’s The Inspiration, but rumblings are strong in 2008 about if he can still maintain his position. With his third LP, aptly titled The Recession (Def Jam), Young Jeezy seeks to answer those questions using the United State’s economic and moral decline as his central theme.

The album starts with immense promise courtesy of the tour de force opening named “The Recession Intro.” The track features mood-setting news interludes proclaiming the impending economic recession before Jeezy attacks the booming, triumphant synths and horns of DJ Toomp. Here Jeezy deftly reflects on the country’s current financial slump through the perspectives of the poor, middle-class, and street hustlers.

Jeezy maintains the mode of conqueror on “Welcome Back.” The Atlanta MC draws a line in the sand against the many style imitators that have emerged in his shadow. “Let me check my attitude / Excuse Mr. Attitude, why you got an attitude? / Can’t stand these rapping n****s / Fakin’ ass trappin’ n****s / Never ever had a pack n****s”.

Long time collaborators Midnight Black and Drumma Boy handle the bulk of production on the album’s middle tracks, which results in the LP’s gift and curse. On the high-powered anthems “Crazy World” and “Hustlaz Ambition,” Jeezy lives up to his promise that this album reflected the content of his debut but “on steroids.”

The former track exhibits Jeezy detailing the struggles of hustling to feed an entire family and the hypocritical nature of our justice system. The latter interpolates lyrical elements of Tupac’s classic “Ambitionz As A Ridah” over sprawling synth effects for a clear example of Jeezy’s signature sound.

Surprisingly it’s the overall lack of diversity in the production that hurts the album’s first half, not Jeezy, who lyrically touches on enough topics to uphold his end. The continuous bombardment of the same garish, synth-styled musical arrangements (“Don’t You Know,” “What They Want,” “Amazin”) start to pull the LP down into one long monotonous vibe.

This error must have been sensed, because things get back on track starting with the lush, Don Cannon-produced “Circulate.” The snowman sounds refreshed and energized over the non-synthetic instrumentation, which utilizes a sample of Billy Paul’s “Let The Dollar Circulate.” The sample’s trumpets, bongos, string instruments, and poverty-focused chorus enliven Jeezy’s lyrics and fits perfectly with the recession theme.

Anthony Hamilton and Lil Boosie (“Everything”), Trey Songz (“Takin’ It There”), and Kanye West (“Put On”) ensure that the album hits the home stretch strong as each guest compliments Jeezy’s style and don’t deter from the overall flow. The most interesting guest spot comes courtesy of Queens lyricist Nas.

With the hatchet buried, both MCs use their contrasting styles to offer commentary on Barack Obama courtesy of “My President.” Jeezy pontificates on the Democrat nominee’s important example for those in the streets, while Nas plays elder statesman exhorting Obama to remain humble in spite of his growing superstardom.

Overcoming shaky moments in the album’s early half, Jeezy again sets himself apart from his Trap music peers. But this time he combines a serious social theme with his usual content to make that distinction. And while there’s no doubt that America is currently in an economic decline, in 2008 that same claim cannot be made about Young Jeezy.

Young Jeezy Featuring Kanye West

"Put On"

Young Jeezy

"Hustlaz Ambition"