Sunday, September 7, 2008

Young Jeezy's The Recession, Reviewed

So I finally got around to listening to The Recession
and to my surprise, it sucks. As a huge fan of his first two records, I struggle a little to explain why, since he hasn't deviated too far from his usual formula. However, the line between classic material and weedplate status can be awfully thin, and I think there are four major factors leading to the crossing of said line on this album:

1) worse beats
2) dumb hooks
3) obnoxious flows and deliveries
4) no more fun trademark adlibs

That said, let's get into this song by song. If I don't mention the beat, it's probably because it's too mediocre to talk about.


I liked this much better when it was 'Girls, Cash, Cars.' Sample was flipped way better. If you were going to make a song about everybody being broke, would you use this beat? The rapping on here's really slurred and lazy. Sample lyric:

God bless America, never been to Colombia
So I'm gon' need one of you to get the work to Colombia
But if need be I'll get the work to Columbia
That's South Carolina, just pay my driver

That just sucks.


Wherein Jeezy (or someone who sounds a lot like him) welcomes himself back, a weedcarrier not having been available to do the honors that day. The first four lines of the song end with place/face/face/face. If this is how you're going to come back, you're so not welcome.


For a second I thought he was going to make the classic overindulgent-rapper-on-his-third-album mistake of bringing in a kids' choir. But then they're abruptly dropped for something worse - a really long, boring hook where every line ends with 'by the way,' rendering the song borderline unlistenable. Appropriately, the beat's like a boring remake of 'Standing Ovation.'


This starts like a great Jeezy song - apocalyptic Thug Motivation 101-esque beat, urgently delivered first few bars, promises of 'dumb shit, where you from shit, ride around your hood all day with your gun shit' - but then Jeezy fails to deliver. Instead his flow falls into this really annoying pattern where he stresses the third-to-last syllable of each line, like so:

All I got to my name is two bricks and one felony
Your going back to jail that's what my conscious keep on telling me
I really ain't buying all this bullshit they selling me
When the government throwing more curves than the letter C
I said the letter C I guess that's for correctional
They try to box me in, sit me still like a vegetable

Can't quite explain why that's so annoying, but it is. As for content, Jeezy doesn't really have much to say - merely that the world is crazy and Bush is somehow at fault. Tonally, I don't think Jeezy's cut out for political protest. He doesn't seem to know how to sound angry - just celebratory or braggadocious. Even here, he sounds like he's bragging, or at best slightly bemused.


This is literally the first song on the album that's good enough to have made the cut on the first two. For once his flow's on point, the beat's serviceable, the conceit of Jeezy-as-teacher-for-a-living is hilarious, and the confused, extended sports metaphors for transporting coke are fun, in large part because the uneducated listener (such as myself) suspects there's this whole world of double-entendred out street slang going over his head in lines like these:

Young'n playing softball
'You playin softball?'
Yeah I'm playin softball
Same color as golf balls


The 'look what I'm blazin/eyes so low that I look like an Asian' hook isn't as bad as the sing-songy thing he does at the end of each line. It's like a horrible imitation of Juvenile's "Gone Ride With Me" flow.


The worst Ambitions As A Rider remake ever. The little computerized "i-i-i-i won't deny it" things on the hook are particularly pointless.


I really like Shawty Redd's production (though I don't need him to remind me that it's his track each time the hook comes around), but this beat reminds me of the stuff Mannie Fresh did towards the end of his time with Cash Money (think Checkmate), where he'd obscure his great sound with all kinds of whistle sound effects and digital gunk. Jeezy's a little lost here, but I did enjoy this line:

This ain't a mixtape
But the tape's mixed
Black tape, grey tape,
all around one brick

Kind of like a stinky homeless man's "fuck the state pen, fuck hoes at Penn State."


Wherein Jeezy devolves into babytalk and raps in a really weird voice. The one plus side of this song is that, what with all the haunting backing vocals, when Jeezy said

I don't live there, I just cook there
Aint' nothing in there, but fish and cookware

the image that came to my mind was that of a little creepy house in the woods, full of trout and pots and pans. But I doubt it did that for anyone else.


I guess this is good, but considering this is the soul-sampling Cannon-produced sequel to Mr 17.5 and Go Crazy, two fantastic songs, it's kind of a letdown. Some critics are all excited about the "looking at my watch like it's a bad investment" line. Understandably, I guess, but it's not that big a deal.


Tell me this isn't an inferior remake of 'What You Talkin Bout.' Jeezy says he's "way too intelligent to play up my intelligence." He wouldn't want the other dealers catching onto his lyrical skills. That might... anyway.


Sing-rap's like blues; every melody's been used before. I forget who Jeezy borrowed this one from, but he doesn't interpret it very well. Why didn't Jeezy actually rap about his vacations on this? That could've been fun.


Of course, Boosie practically has the best album of the verse here. (And I don't much like Boosie; Jeezy's just that bad on this album.) I don't know why Anthony Hamilton had to sully his good name getting in on this mess. Talking about how he draws a line around his family and shit.


Basically the worst Southern chick song ever. Why does Jeezy even bother? This shit will never make it to the radio and no one's going to buy the record because he made a song about girls "bustin like a Uzi." (Trey in the background crooning 'uziiiiiiiiiiii' is just really gratuitous.)


Sampled and rapped over far better on Trae's 'Restless' and Freeway's (Scarface-featuring!!) 'Baby Don't Do It.' Jeezy just totally ignores the beauty of the sample and shouts over the beat about his friend in prison. Like a horrible version of the previous album's 'Dreamin.'


Jeezy's delivery is unusually staccato and uncompelling here. It's like he's so focused on enunciating each syllable that he forgot to convey any charisma or sense of interest in his atypically decent punchlines. Then this overrated rapper comes in and bitches into autotune about how he's gotten so much 'big fame' and money that he's become estranged from his old hoes and feels really lonely. It's really touching stuff.


The hook to this song goes, in part:

"Let's talk about hate, cuz I get a lot of that
Let's talk about money, cuz I get a lot of that"

Or, you know, we could not talk about it and say we did. More shitty sing-flow here.


The greatest song ever. Starring Jeezy as Barack Obama and Nas as Joe Biden. (Get it? Jeezy's the charismatic young man, Nas is the washed-up, garrulous, not especially bright old one... well anyway.)

Best songs: My President, What They Want, Circulate... and Who Dat.


Anonymous said...

geez dude, Im really happy tht both tr (a/e)y s got their own blogs started up, but both of you dont allow 'anonymous' commentors. whts w/ the anonymous-commenter discrimination? We're humans too. Now I'm forced to conform and actually have an account set up...but complaints aside, i agree w/ you to a large degree. this is the first jeezy album thats disappointed me. i however, actually dont mind "welcome back" & "crazy world" and really like "put on" - that beat sounds like desolation and alienation personified, and the brags, generic as they may be, work well as a fuck you to the recession- yknow maintaining your pride and flossing in the face of a failing economy. I aways saw it as a retarded coke rap/'hood' version of braveheart's "they may take our lives, but they'll never take our freeeeeeeeeeeeeedom" line. sorry if I projected a mental image of jeezy in a kilt for you. i neeed a vacation

Trey Stone said...

i didn't even know my blog didn't allow anonymous commentators. clearly it's got a mind of its own

tray said...

I didn't know I didn't allow anonymous commenters either. I suppose I agree about the desolation and alienation personified (or beatified), and the brags are fine on paper but Kanye's drama queen schtick does very little for me and Jeezy just sounds a little sluggish there. And in general I think all the that's rights and haHAAAAs and ayyyyys are sorely missed. They filled the spaces between bars, allowed him to get away with a really slow flow, and most importantly, were really funny. Without them, he's almost like a less entertaining version of Rick Ross. The only good thing I take away from this album is that there's little reason to think the falloff is irreversible.

Jesus Shuttlesworth said...

i just saw the CD cover in a store today. why does the sticker say "the controversial new album from Young Jeezy?" what is so dangerous about what he has to say, especially when you think this is his worst album?

tray said...

Well, McCain doesn't even seem to want to admit that we're in a recession, so maybe the mere title is controversial. No, seriously, he got taken out of context; I guess Def Jam just thinks politics = controversy. And Untitled has sold relatively well, so they're probably hoping to piggyback off of that.