Every time I listen to The Recession or just see Jeezy on TV or in a magazine or whatever it reminds me that he’s the only real rap star we’ve got right now. Wayne stopped trying over a year ago, to the point where I can’t decide whether him mugging it up with Kid Rock at a country awards show is worse because I didn’t even bat an eye or because he mugged it up with Kid Rock at a country awards show. Kanye was always more pop star than rap star but even on that front he’s on a sabbatical. You could maybe argue T.I., who sold out but still really went at it in some places on Paper Trail, but we won’t be seeing his face for a while. After that who’s left? Jay? Nas? Plies and Ross? BET is still trying to pretend like Nelly is famous.
I feel kind of lazy even writing about this video. For one, videos don’t matter anymore, so this doesn’t carry the weight of “Ha” or “Get Ya Hustle On” even though it desperately tries to. I felt this way after the “Put On” video emerged, which did way less than this video does with a song that’s worth way more. Secondly, Jeezy’s not doing anything special in a video that is pure formula (right down to the McCain/Palin masks), so it would be foolish to classify it as anything more than a bullet point as to why The Recession is great and why its existence matters.
Still, it’s intense and moving to see Jeezy rapping this dark, sinister and hopeless song in the middle of a mosh pit. It’s still prescient to see a song called “Crazy World” visualized like this. Even the splices of video showing falling buildings and alligators are artfully done. And for some reason, Jeezy riding around in a Go Kart seems to oddly fit in.
Put simply, Jeezy seems to be the only major rapper that cares, not even about real rap, but about the way a famous rapper should carry himself. There’s no Ross-like fake kingpin shit that is appropriate in song but smothers you elsewhere. There’s none of the shameless genre-hopping that’s makes Jay and Wayne fans embarrassed to own their albums. He doesn’t play the acoustic guitar or have a blog or a freestyle up on YouTube every two hours. He’s humble, smart and judicious. He has the hood on his back but he doesn’t flaunt it, and in the case of “Vacation”, he gives them as much power as they give him. He puts his art out, take it or leave it.
I sense that Jeezy feels like being a rap star is his duty, both to rap and his fans. I sense that he feels like he’s carrying the torch, whereas Wayne and countless others feel like they’re the flame. This is why, to me, he carries himself so gracefully.
And lastly, besides the music being really great, there’s a reason why The Recession is so powerful: Jeezy lets it speak for itself.