Come Shop wit' Me, his independently distributed debut from 2003, allegedly sold more than 50,000 copies. As a member of Boyz N da Hood, he was behind a self-titled album (released just weeks before Let's Get It) that debuted in the Top Ten of the Billboard album chart. Driven by the hit 'Soul Survivor', Let's Get It: Thug Motivation 101 eventually did even better, nestling at the number two spot in the Billboard 200. The Inspiration: Thug Motivation 102 followed in late 2006, and by that point, Jeezy had become one of the most prominent MCs; the album became his first number one smash. In 2007 he introduced his U.S.D.A. crew with the album Cold Summer, and then returned to his solo career a year later with the politically minded The Recession -- his second set to reach number one. In 2010 the single 'Lose My Mind' announced the coming of his fourth major-label release. A diagnosis of Bell's palsy would shift the rapper's priorities, delaying the release of the album until late 2011 when TM:103 Hustlerz Ambition finally landed.
Words: Andy Kellman
A sequence of events juggled the release dates for Boyz N da Hood's first album (issued on Bad Boy) and Young Jeezy's own widely distributed breakout (issued on Def Jam). Boyz N da Hood hit the Top Five the week it was released, and Young Jeezy -- the group's most visible member -- wound up releasing Let's Get It: Thug Motivation 101 only a month later. His prominence has come hard and fast (and not without a fair share of controversy), but in truth, he has been active in the underground since the mid-'90s. More a businessman than a traditional MC, his boasts are either deliberately pronounced or mush-mouthed and are often stamped with a druggy "Aaaayy!" Far from the South's best MC, he nonetheless makes up for it with his storytelling ability and obvious desire to inspire hard work, even if the "million dollar dreams" are followed by "federal nightmares." His mentality is almost permanently stuck on monetary gain, whether he's talking about moving "white" (his nickname is Snowman) or doing whatever necessary to keep up appearances. A definite product of the South, it's apparent throughout Let's Get It that his claim of being raised by the group UGK and the label No Limit is no joke. Like Boyz N da Hood, the album was made as if crunk never happened. Partial list of benefactors: Mannie Fresh, Trick Daddy, Young Buck, Bun B, Akon, Shawty Redd, ColliPark, Jazze Pha.
Words: Andy Kellman
According to Young Jeezy, The Recession, his third studio album, was like “Thug Motivation (his debut) on steroids”. Arguably the former trap star’s best release, musically fans saw Jeezy go from relentless drug pusher to respected thug poet all the while offering political teachings from the eyes of a hustler. Still keeping with the familiar sounds of the trap - haunting pianos, heavy 808s, and handclaps - producers such as DJ Toomp, Drumma Boy, and J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League armed Jeezy with countless credible dirty south backdrops upon which he fed the streets his “Thug Motivation”. Of all the singles released, which included “Vacation”, “Crazy World”, and the Kanye West assisted street anthem “Put On”, the most notable was his presidential cry for action “My President”. Highly influential when encouraging non-voters to vote, the Obama administration owes Jeezy a lot of thanks for helping Barack Obama become the first African American President. While subject matters chopped and changed, the motivational message on The Recession didn’t. It has since gone on to be certified Platinum with sales over a million copies.
Words: Will “ill Will” Lavin"
After releasing The Recession in 2008, Young Jeezy suffered his own three-year layoff due to legal problems and a fight with the crippling disease Bell's palsy. Add a paradigm shift in Hip Hop radio, where the introspection of Drake and Kid Cudi found favor over Jeezy and T.I.'s extroverted pusher music, then top if off with a slew of missed released dates and the whole thing stinks of a setup, which is why any fond appreciation of TM:103 must come from the "warts and all" department. This unforgiving return to form doesn’t suffer from being over-thought and it’s not even overwrought, but it is overstuffed at 14 tracks (make that 18 for the deluxe version) and the most welcoming moments are pushed to the back (the "F.A.M.E."/"I Do"/"Higher Learning" sequence is like a trap music glitter dome with Jay-Z, André 3000, T.I., and Snoop Dogg all on the guest list). These minor complaints will matter little to returning fans as their needs are put first with the front half of album rolling like a steamroller fueled by grind-time anthems. Even the hack "game needs me"-styled opener is welcome as the rapper forces "Waiting" out of his hoarse throat like it was gravel, and after "What I Do" does something infectious and incredible with an economic hook and a Drumma Boy beat, the bold "OJ" comes along filled with iffy metaphors and a trailer load of controversy. The scattershot and irresponsible number is a red herring and kept a safe distance from the album’s true key track, "Trapped," where Jeezy and Jill Scott offer a crafted and complicated social statement, one that’s soulful and the worthy successor to "My President." What’s made Jeezy's evolution as an artist interesting is that this rebel without a cause sometimes finds one, and even when he's more Hulk than Bruce Banner, his changes are driven by emotion rather than something calculated. Here he's driven by the hunger to put things back where they were and live up to TM:103's official subtitle, Hustlerz Ambition, along with its unofficial one, Trap or Die Tryin'.
Words: David Jeffries
Young Jeezy's first album for Def Jam, Let's Get It: Thug Motivation 101, was such a breakout success that it immediately left his Bad Boy album with Boyz N da Hood -- released just weeks prior -- as an afterthought. What is his appeal, exactly? His persona revolves around being a crack dealer, but he spins it as a motivational speaker who encourages people to do what they need to do to get paid. School kids proudly donned Jeezy's snowman T-shirts, even if the closest they'll ever come to hustling is selling chocolates for a class trip. Jeezy's not an exceptional rapper; he has a peculiar way of getting his support, though it's not without a discernible amount of charisma. On The Inspiration: Thug Motivation 102, this is best exemplified in the opening verse to the Timbaland-produced "3 A.M.": "It's Young Jizzo and I'm back with Timbo/With another hit, you're still stuck in a limbo/A ad lib here and a ad lib there/F*ck it, ad libs everywhere." Few other MCs could get away with something so purposefully lazy. In Jeezy's half-determined/half-careless voice, it's a quotable (and a pretty damn funny one at that), more energizing and memorable than an average MC's complex, tongue-twisting metaphor. To that kind of extent, Jeezy does little to make this disc different from Let's Get It. Its first several tracks limp and flail around, which isn't a good sign, but once "I Luv It" kicks in, everything tightens and sharpens, placing the album a very slight shade beneath Let's Get It. Some of the highlights: "I Luv It," the closest stature-wise to "Go Crazy," a DJ Toomp production that's as anthemic as his work on T.I.'s "What You Know"; "Mr. 17.5," a fine "Go Crazy" retread. There's also "Streets on Lock," a "Trapstar" retread, where Jeezy maps out some of the reasons for his success: "When I speak, these niggas believe me/'Cause, bitch, I'm Jeezy." "Dreamin'," in which Jeezy recalls the guilt of being a crack dealer while his mother's an addict, takes the cake as the best reflecting pool track of 2006.
Words: Andy Kellman