On this day, July 26, in hip-hop history…
2005: For a man who proudly wears an angry snowman as an emblem of their Jeezy sais quoi, summer might seem like a strange time for releasing a debut album. In the case of Jay Jenkins a.k.a. Young Jeezy, it turns out the month of July was the perfect time to unleash his classic debut, Let’s Get It: Thug Motivation 101. A record that’s reputation and influence grows as each season slowly passes us by.
Debuting at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 with a modest 172,000 records sold, TM 101 – as fans colloquially refer to it by – went to achieve platinum status with over one million records sold. Thus, establishing Jeezy as a dominant commercial force in hip-hop for the next decade. Powered by singles, “Go Crazy,” “And Then What” featuring Mannie Fresh and “Soul Survivor” featuring Akon, Thug Motivation 101 would go on to become a bedrock of the Southern trap rap canon.
Fans not only gravitated to the album’s towering gothic synthesizer production powered by up-and-coming producers like Shawty Redd, Drumma Boy and J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League, but to Jeezy’s relatable personality. The key to Jeezy’s strength as an artist is that he seemed like a regular dude from the block. Granted, a guy with ambitions to move “so much white it will hurt your eyes” but a man that felt profoundly like a guy many of his fans knew in their own life. Jeezy’s aspirational Tony Robbins-Meets-Bodie-From-The-Wire persona provided motivation for a generation of young rap fans looking to be somebody with his aphoristic rhymes and aspirational lifestyle.
Almost a decade later, Let’s Get It: Thug Motivation 101′s influence is undeniable. A year after Jeezy’s commercial success, Def Jam signed Rick Ross – an artist dismissed at the time as a crude carbon copy by critics – and the Teflon Don’s career flourished quickly to superstar status in his own right. Meanwhile, it’s trademark sound became the standard of Southern street rap for the next decade while Jeezy himself went on to become a multiplatinum selling artist for the next decade. TM 101 remains a favorite of fans everywhere and remains widely recognized as one of the best albums of the 2000s.