Release Date: Sep 2, 2008
Record label: Def Jam
P.O.S. :: Chill, dummyDoomtree RecordsAuthor: Patrick TaylorI've been a fan of Stefon "P.O.S." Alexander since his debut nearly 10 years ago. On "Audition" and 2009's "Never Better," he proved himself to be one of the few artists who could successfully meld punk rock and hip-hop. Fellow Minnesotans ….
On 2008's finest hip-hop album, Atlanta rapper Young Jeezy sets out his stall: "It's a recession, everybody broke/So I came back to give everybody hope." The album touches upon economic issues without dwelling on them, and it captures the spirit of the times with an unerring precision. The Recession is tinged with bleakness and joy, but the prevailing mood is a kind of majestic, emotional gravity. Jeezy's gruff proclamations are borne along on a litter of triumphal arrangements - horns, whiplash beats, soulful backing vocals, yearning melodies - and you are swept along in their wake.
As commercial rappers go, Young Jeezy and The Game don’t have much in common. Jeezy speaks in an Atlanta drawl, while The Game is a gruff son of Compton. Jeezy brags on his albums about selling cocaine; The Game waxes poetic about gang warfare. Yet with their third CDs, they share a tough choice: Switch things up or stick with the formulas that earned their previous efforts gold and platinum plaques? It’s clear from The Recession‘s first track that Jeezy has done the former, ditching the ebullient street-capitalist persona of his first two CDs: ”It’s the recession/Everybody broke,” he gripes.
Dropping the sequential album titles for his third release, Young Jeezy's The Recession introduces itself as anything but Thug Motivation 103. The opening title track features a collage of some very 2008 news reports where America is going broke while the "they just don't care about us" feeling sweeps the nation. Then Jeezy enters trading his non-stop swagger for social commentary, and while the singalong thug chorus is as strong as ever, the rapper's transformation from cocaine-slinging king to voice of the people is unconvincing, especially when he mentions his personal driver and how his "make it rain" sessions at the strip club are getting more conservative.
A self-inflicted recession“It’s the recession / everybody broke” Young Jeezy proclaims on the title track of The Recession, an album about economic hardship that's light on self-righteousness yet ends up as impoverished as the subprime mortgage market. Young stays in the spotlight for his third album with only a few feature tracks like the Kanye West-featured stint in street-heater “Put On. ” Nas leapfrogs from Untitled’s Obama anthem to the stellar “My President” here, and mines his hustler spirit to crow about “22 inch rims like Hulk Hogan’s arms” while Jeezy muses that “Bush robbed all of us / does that make him a criminal / then he cheated in Florida / does that make him a Seminole?”His muscular brand of ATL hip-hop is still solid, yet Jeezy frequently ditches trap-star swagger to play defense and pre-empt criticism.
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.