In June I was invited to a listening party for the rising ATLien Young Jeezy and his solo debut Let’s Get It: Thug Motivation 101. Even before his work with Bad Boy’s southern conglomerate of emcees Boyz N Da Hood, Jeezy was the talk of the industry, the next sure shot south of the Mason-Dixon. Jeezy’s “buzz worthy” status is not based on his skill but on his reputation as a “G.” Fuck a live stage show or a liquid flow: It’s all about how many bricks you flipped and how many bitches you pimped. As I approached the Manhattan west-side loft, it became apparent that Jeezy’s hype was more than industry talk: mixtape deejays, Internet deejays, Net-heads, thugs, wannabe rappers, press, label folk, video chicks and star chasers (men and women) all gathered to cop some product from a rapper better known as the Snowman.
As an unapologetic gangsta and trapper, Jeezy is a one-dimensional rapper with limited lyrical range and ability, but he does compensate for those deficiencies with an undeniable presence and charisma. Jeezy’s flow has a narcotic effect and is further stressed with his (over)use of adlibs. On “Air Forces” Jeezy’s melodic hook is lethal in its potency: “I went from old-school Chevy’s to drop-top Porches/ You couldn’t walk a mile off in my Air Forces.”
Jeezy also shines on the Don Cannonproduced “Go Crazy.” Regal horns and staggered drums flutter over his vocals, leading to the simple yet infectious hook: “When they play that new Jeezy all the dope boys go crazy/ watch the dope boys go crazy/ I pop my collar/ than I swing my chain/ you can catch me in the club pimpin’ doin’ my thing.”
Unfortunately, uplifting tracks like “Talk to ‘Em” and “Lets Get It/Sky’s the Limit” are rare moments of positive motivation. Thug Motivation never escapes the block or expands the hustle beyond drug dealing. Jeezy also has the unfortunate tendency to air out weak lines such as “Yeah, I’m so crazy/ these other rappers actors like Patrick Swayze” and “A lot of niggas crossing over/ nah, dog, not me/ closest I’ve ever been to commercial is when I watch TV.”
For those looking for their music to inspire and motivate, Young Jeezy is not the answer, nor is he (as the industry would portray) the saving grace of hip-hop. Although Jeezy knows how to use his skills to nod some heads, he remains yet another story that feeds into the negative stereotypes and aspects of hip-hop. Let’s Get It: Thug Motivation 101 stands as another example of the industry confusing the dope game with hip-hop music.