We may have been the first blog to post about Jeezy back in Nov. (although I’m sure there’s a chance he was namedropped in the gelandweave archives back when) but I never really followed up on it. First heard him on Thug Matrimony, checked the tracks Serg posted, thought he seemed pretty good but I wasn’t about to go out of my way researching dude. Then I hear Trap or Die – I think I got it about two months ago? Sat on it for awhile. Spent some time with it. Realized I loved it, realized his style was totally different from what I thought it was (circa “Fucking Around”). Copped the Boyz n Da Hood album. Uneven but fantastic in parts. And then this album drops and suddenly everybody loves Jeezy! Well isn’t that nice. I waited around and finally bought it today so here’s my reaction because I’m at work late and the phones are not exactly ringing off the hook so here are my SO NECCESSARY thoughts on the first listen to Let’s Get It: Thug Motivation 101.
What I like about it:
Jeezy is Mr. Charisma isn’t he? SCRATCHY smoker’s voice. The “THATSSSSSS RIIIIGHT” underlining punchlines, real-talk alternating with goofy “AYYY!” the ghetto tragi-comedy of performance reflecting reality, distorted through the lens of personality and real-life struggles warped and broadcast by the urge to entertain, and oh yes: the SNOWMAN chain (see Ozone Mag for the pornographic detail) and all the white/snow/cold summer/icy refs. Then there’s the songs. A long-ass album that is somehow incredibly consistent and mostly-great, Rocky-anthemic beats (“Standing Ovation,” “Trapstar”) and knowledge jewels (“Don’t Get Caught,” “Talk To Em”) the late-90s Cash Money optimism of “My Hood” and the still-amazing finale “Air Forces.” great guests (T.I., Trick Daddy) and just the feeling that Jeezy knows his “punchlines and riddles” are corny, so he has to underline them – eh? eh? nah. “AYYYYYYY.” But best of all, biggest strength and biggest weakness: like T.I., Jeezy doesn’t look for the pop charts, he pulls them to him. Aside from “Icy” (which, according to Gucci Mane’s old Murder Dog interview, he didn’t allow Jeezy to use on the album – pity) Jeezy is not pulling the Ludacris “THIS IS FOR MTV AUDIENCES”-style single, and instead following the T.I. blueprint – make “QUALITY STREET MUSIC” and tell the people to come to you if they want their drug tales raw and uncut, want their drama LIKE THE DJ. AYYYYYYY. The closest thing to a potential pop cut is “My Hood,” and maybe “Trapstar,” and I love both of those but judging from the amusing snowman-shaped sticker attached to the saran wrap when I purchased the thing, the label’s pretty set on following up “And Then What” with “Soul Survivor,” the Akon-produced track.
Finally, its lighter on the violence than the Boyz’ album, which was peppered with guntalk; not that it ignores it, but it envelopes it realistically, without cartoon exaggeration; Jeezy’s not standing on the cover holding various assault rifles. Jeezy’s looking backwards, learning from experience, teaching the babies, emphasizing the future, well aware of what it took to get here etc. Not that he sounds eager to be fucked with, but he doesn’t want to go out in a hail of cartoon gunfire either. Or as its summed up in the liner notes when he shouts out the “United Gangsta Nation, Bloods, Crips, GD’s Vice Lords – Let’s bring it together and get this money.” Let’s Get It indeed.
What I don’t like:
I only listened to the album one time through, but I’m not too impressed with the Mannie single. (I know its been out for a while, but in Chicago they’re still playing “Icy” so I think I have an excuse for not hearing it til now). I’ll give the song some more time but corny Mannie introductions (“Fags, hags and scalliwags!”) and all, I was not feeling it.
Its not as good as Trap or Die. Not as immediate, not as ENTHUSIASTIC, no shouts of GANGSTA GRIZILLS! No “Crunk Muzik” beat. No Ennio Morricone-style rap beat. No explanation of what “Gangsta means to me.” The album’s just less consistent, a bit too long, and, as is customary with albums vs. mixtapes, there’s just less flow from track to track.
MOST OF ALL: the mixing. OK so this sort of complaint annoys me normally because it reminds me of when this dude at college told me he didn’t like the beats on Cuban Linx because the snare was MIXED TOO LOUD. And I’m like …the fuck. But for some reason, the beats on the whole album, even the Jazze Pha ones, sound very very THIN. Like, where the fuck is the bass? This actually kinda bothered me on Trap or Die and the Boyz album too, although not to the extent that it does here. Everything has been mixed to provide optimal trebel-assualt, or something. Is there a reason for it? Even the soul-sampling on “Talk to Em” sounds like the bass has been reverse-filtered so it sounds weirdly SHALLOW.
This album is great and I’m sure it’ll just grow on me with time. If you don’t have Trap or Die though, pick that shit up. OK I’m done talking about Jeezy.