Young Jeezy

The Recession

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Dropping the sequential album titles for his third release, Young Jeezy's The Recession introduces itself as anything but Thug Motivation 103. The opening title track features a collage of some very 2008 news reports where America is going broke while the "they just don't care about us" feeling sweeps the nation. Then Jeezy enters trading his non-stop swagger for social commentary, and while the singalong thug chorus is as strong as ever, the rapper's transformation from cocaine-slinging king to voice of the people is unconvincing, especially when he mentions his personal driver and how his "make it rain" sessions at the strip club are getting more conservative. The Barack Obama shout-out that closes the album -- "My President" with special guest Nas -- works much better with flippant verses ("We ready for damn change/So you all let the man shine") more suitable for a man who prefers to be called "The Snowman." Same goes for "Circulate" and its great line about oil prices ("Gas higher than me") but The Recession abandons politics often enough that you can't call it ponderous or even a concept album. With those great drums and fake trumpets producer Drumma Boy loves so much, trap star anthem "Amazin" is simple, feel-good music for pimps and players, while the soul-filled "Word Play" finds Jeezy and the J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League celebrating the power of rap with warm nostalgia in their hearts. "Put On" with Kanye West singing through an Auto-Tune is the usual second-line goodness that Jeezy normally rounds out albums with, but there's more forgettable filler than expected, most of it sounding like mixtape leftovers or in the case of "Vacation," lackluster and forced club tracks. Of course with 18 songs the album allows for some dead weight and trimming. Even if it falls a distant third out of the first three, the scattershot Recession is still a welcome and even risky step forward, one carried by its highlights and the newfound awareness that the cocaine grind isn't everything.

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