With just a single breath, hip-hop fans can tell when rapper Young Jeezy is featured on a track. Since stepping onto the hip-hop stage circa 2004 with Bad Boy Records and after three years of independent endeavors, his raspy voice and southern demeanor have charmed hip-hop fans. The Recession, released on Sept. 2, is his third album release through Def Jam, and, overall, it has the same raw feel as his past work. However, the record is confused – it seems as if Young Jeezy decided he wanted to make political commentary while leaving room for club bangers. In the end, he didn’t accomplish either of these things to his fullest potential.
Still, The Recession has been released with precise timing. The current economic state has left many Americans, whether hip-hop fans or not, faced with uncertainty about economic stability. The title track merges chopped news segments about the changing economy with booming marching band production by DJ Toomp. “No one’s whispering about the r-word anymore,” a reporter explains. “Now, they just come right out and say it.” As the chorus emphasizes, “Everybody broke,” including Jeezy himself. Here, Jeezy reestablishes himself as a man with an agenda, and this time, it’s political.
Or so it seems. By the third track, Young Jeezy’s bland topic choices become quickly evident. A string of predictable revelations in “Amazin’” (“I’m amazing, forget the haters”) and “Get Allot” (“I get a lot of money”) is disappointing if one expected a conceptual album. Of course, it is not fair to expect conscious rap from an artist who has not chosen to represent that end of the hip-hop spectrum, but it also is not fair for Jeezy to mislead his audience into thinking that this album takes up political rap.
Jeezy quickly convinces us of the opposite. For one, he seems more self-centered than humanitarian, and he clearly has nothing to worry about when it comes to money. On “Crazy World,” he proclaims: “This world still spinning and my rims still spinning.” Though in the context of the song Young Jeezy is trying to be motivational, here he seems superficial. As a result, Jeezy distances himself from his audience, portraying himself as untouchable, while the rest of us are losing jobs. Guess he isn’t really broke, either.
The moments where Young Jeezy does directly allude to the theme of recession and politics are promising. “Put On,” an ode to his hometown featuring Kanye West wailing on an annoyingly likable Auto-Tune, has enjoyed frequent radio play and weeks at the top of BET’s 106 and Park’s countdown. “My President,” featuring a carefully crafted verse by Nas, is clearly inspired by Barack Obama’s run for presidency (“Stuntin’ on Martin Luther, feelin’ just like a king / guess this is what he meant when he said that he had a dream”). These political tracks are not club bangers, but they are just as enjoyable – perhaps even more so – as the moments when Jeezy reminds us that he’s “the truth” and “the proof” – as if we could have forgotten.
Despite the album’s excessive self-praise and ad-libs, it is clear that Jeezy is pleasing his fans. The Recession is No. 1 on Billboard’s Top 200 for the week of Sept. 2. Overall, this is a respectable effort that could have been strengthened by a narrower focus and fewer cocky ABC rhymes.