September 4, 2008

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It’s not my policy to run reviews here that have appeared elsewhere, but due to space constraints my LA Times review of Young Jeezy’s “The Recession” got severely truncated. These are just the vagaries of the business but unfortunately, the published version tilts more polemic than actual review.

Yes, the original draft is venomous, slightly strident and still probably 200 words too short. But it’s sincere and maybe a necessary counterweight to the patently absurd, forced intellectualization that critics project onto Jeezy. If you don’t believe me, please see the Rolling Stone (now with video!) and Washington Post reviews, with the latter reconditely remarking that “The Recession” is a few tracks too bloated to be this generation’s “What’s Going On?.” Personally, I see it as more our “Revolver,” but hey what do I know?

Review After Jump

All you need to know about Atlanta crack rapper, Young Jeezy’s artistic aspirations, can be gleaned from the woefully warbled hook of “Crazy World.”

“They want that Young shit, that dumb shit, that where you from shit, that ride around your hood all day with your gun shit.”

With his third Def Jam album, The Recession, the 30-year old born Jay Jenkins certainly has the formula down pat: dull, dumb, sporadically rhymed raps pared with bloated blockbuster beats bursting with leaden, dragging drums and cavernous synthesizers. Almost completely bereft of any actual musical aptitude, Jeezy’s genius has generally manifested itself in his stellar marketing and self-promotional abilities.

Presenting himself as the ultimate dope boy made good, Jeezy has managed to successfully side-step questions of skill by promoting himself as less MC than aspirational ideal. Consequently, his first two Def Jam efforts were entitled “Let’s Get It: Thug Motivation 101,” and “The Inspiration.” One can argue the dubious merits of a philosophy capable of being distilled to two words: sell coke. But one can’t deny Jeezy’s popularity, with both records earning platinum plaques, partially fueled by the popularity of the rapper’s “Snowman” t-shirt line.

With the American economy currently in the throes of recession, Jeezy’s cannily attempted to manufacture an over-arching theme in the hope of adding heft to his repetitive raps. But his recession is more likely to engender depression from the dire reality that one of hip-hop’s leading and most critically lauded lights embodies the spirit of simple as stupid, rather than simple as stream-lined

Of course, Jeezy’s sonic sins would be partially pardonable were the record to flash any hint of fun or humor. Instead, the adlib-addled, street-cred consumed caricature is more content to rip off 2Pac (“Hustlaz Ambition”) and write astonishingly abominable hooks like that for “Amazin” (“Bitch, I’m amazing/Look what I’m blazin’/Eyes so low I look like an Asian.”)

The album’s lone anomaly is smash single, the Kanye West-aided “Put On.” Yet the track’s success only serves to highlight the stark differences between the charismatic and complex West and the stagnant, superficial Jeezy.

Download:
MP3: Young Jeezy ft. Kanye West-“Put On”

The infinitely better sample sources from “Circulate.”

MP3: Billy Paul-“Let the Dollar Circulate”
MP3: Steve Spacek-“Dollar”