Over the course of a string of successful underground releases and two solo major-label albums, Young Jeezy has carved out a career from the dubious distinction of being the most authentically “hood” MC on the market. But on the dramatically titled The Recession, Jeezy seems to be angling for a more ambitious designation — to be not just of the hood, but for the hood.
Unfortunately — much like on his morally disagreeable but highly entertaining major-label debut, Let’s Get It: Thug Motivation 101, and the less disagreeable and less entertaining follow-up, The Inspiration: Thug Motivation 102 — Young Jeezy does not have much to say. This wasn’t a problem when boasts of his drug selling and party proclivities were all that were expected: “Jeezy like to drink, Jeezy like to smoke/ Jeezy like to mix Arm and Hammer with his coke” pretty much said it all.
But putting out an album called The Recession right now, and draping the American flag over your head on its cover, comes with expectations of politically conscious ruminations. Instead, we get more of the same: When Jeezy says “You niggas want wordplay, but I’m ’bout bird play,” it’s safe to assume he’s referring to something slightly more illicit than a newfound passion for ornithology.
“My President" is The Recession’s closer and the album’s most explicitly political track. “My President is black,” Jeezy declares right off the top. But he can’t go a half a bar without resorting to idle materialism: “My Lambo blue, and I’ll be goddamned if my rims ain’t, too” tops off the couplet. It’s decidedly Jeezy, and it would be foolish to expect anything else.
It should be noted that The Recession sounds great: From top to bottom the album features the type of bouncy, rich production that sounds incredible as snatches of music from the stereo of a passing car (or even out of tinny laptop speakers). A large cast of Southern producers, including Shawty Redd, Drumma Boy, and J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League, provide Jeezy with the kind of grand, swooping beats that have throughout his career best elevated his tempered, and at times even plodding, flow.
“Who gives a fuck what you think of me unless you feeding my family,” Jeezy says on “Hustlaz Ambition,” and it’s perhaps the most telling moment on the album. Jeezy’s acknowledged the recession, and he’s perhaps chosen to lead by example — by crafting a commercially viable album, by ensuring he and his own are taken care of. And maybe, in the process, he’s delivered exactly what the times call for — an hour-plus of escapism. “They want that Young shit, that dumb shit/ That where you from shit/ That ride around your hood all day with your gun shit,” he lets us know on “Crazy World.” Well, they got it.