Young Jeezy’s success wasn’t supposed to happen. His 2003 indie debut, Come Shop Wit’ Me, went mostly unheard, but his persistent mixtape grind led to a deal with Def Jam. Despite the hype, his first major label single, “Over Here,” was ignored by radio and video in 2004. Within a year’s time, however, Da Snowman had blanketed both mediums with anthemic music, resulting in a platinum plaque for Let’s Get It: Thug Motivation 101. Now, with his re-up disc, The Inspiration, Jeezy tries to get another standing ovation.
Those lampooning Jeezy’s juvenile ad-libs and sordid drug tales need to note that he’s not a rapper—he’s a motivational speaker. Amid Shawty Redd’s triumphant horns and woofer-busting 808s on “U Know What It Is,” the trap star explains his appeal: “I gave ’em my heart/They lend me they ears/The best gangsta shit that you heard in years.” Proof of these proclamations lies in gutter cuts like the Timbaland-produced “3 A.M.” and the ominous “Bury Me a G.”
Enlisting R. Kelly for hook support on “Go Getta,” Jeezy also showcases his knack for crafting commercial fare without forsaking his thugged-out mystique. Responsible for the previous track’s thumping synths, the Runners switch up their signature screwed vocal–driven sound again for the Keyshia Cole–assisted “Dreamin’.” Over sweeping strings and spacey keys, Jeezy offers insight into his complicated relationship with his mother (“She addicted to the high, I’m addicted to the cash/Almost put my hands on her when I caught her in my stash”).
Despite the aforementioned notable tracks, The Inspiration does have plenty of uninspired material. Adhering to a musical arch that relies heavily on similar gothic organs and horns, the songs, at points, begin to sound the same. Jeezy also occasionally pens the overly simplistic hook that fails to hit its mark (for example, those on “Keep It Gangsta” and “J.E.E.Z.Y.”). Without building off of his original blueprint, Jeezy fails to motivate many new listeners and winds up stuck in the trap. —PAUL W. ARNOLD
Read the rest of XXL’s Critical Beatdown review section in the XXL’s March 2007 issue (#89)