With much of the blogosphere saying he lost it, the streets feening for some motivation and longtime fans looking for reasons to believe again, Young Jeezy has been in unfamiliar territory for the last two years. For the first time since entering the game with street classics Trap Or Die and Let’s Get It: Thug Motivation 101, Jizzle’s once secure spot as The People’s Champ was coming into question. Fast forward through months of broken release dates, a quasi-beef with a certain other Def Jam artist, and returning the Real with DJ Drama on two well-received mixtapes, and Da Snowman has returned to silence talk of a demise on the soundtrack to his comeback story, TM:103 Hustlerz Ambition.
The highly anticipated threequel in the Thug Motivation series finds Jeezy—confident as ever—making an emphatic reemergence, carrying a feeling of revival from 2005′s Let’s Get It, sprinkled with moments of growth and realization.
“They waiting, they waiting,” echoes Jeez as the blaring intro (fittingly titled “Waiting”) cracks open the class. Confident as ever, Da Snowman reintroduces himself and brushes off the skeptics roaring, “I made it this far, a fool with my foolish pride/Look at me, what you see? A fool and his foolish ride/Y’all know damn well I wouldn’t lettin’ you niggas down/Just to sit back and watch you led by these fuckin’ clowns/Four albums in, niggas still talking this real shit/Three classics in, nigga, and that’s on some real shit.” Produced by burgeoning beatsmith, Lil Lody—who crafted eight tracks on the album—the intro rises to expectations, offering the same sort of anthemic feel that consumes the openers to plenty of Jeezy’s projects.
On the raucous “Just Like That,” Mr. 17.5 (if those numbers are still correct) wears his bravado on his sleeve as he flaunts his partygoer ways over the Drumma Boy produced street banger, bellowing, “I’m the life of the party, bring the party some life/You know I’m dead-ass serious/Why? Cause I said it twice/We talking straight suicide, we taking shots to the head/Must be drinking amnesia, ’cause I forgot what I said.” With the chilling “OJ”—accentuated with piano keys—the self-assuredness is kicked up another notch as Jeezy, along with featured guests Fabolous and Jadakiss, flood the street-fantasia with coke braggadocio and luxury raps.
On such an anticipated project, the Trapper-turned-Thug Motivator delivers an appeasing body of work that was indeed worth the wait. From the chest-pumping “Nothing,” to the standing-on-the-couch club tinged anthem “Way Too Gone” (with Future), not to mention the tranquilizing “Higher Learning” (alongside Snoop Dogg and Devin the Dude), the album offers a cogent dose of everything, while still managing to not feel all over the place. Longtime fans may have a problem with the radio-ready “Leave You Alone” (featuring Ne-Yo), but Jizzle actually sounds comfortable, and he makes up for any transgressions on the insatiable “All We Do (Smoke & Fuck).” Infused with a flurry of ardent go-getta beats (“Everythang”) and, well, motivation, TM:103 does captures the essentia of his prior albums. Offering the fire of TM101, the rollick -and-celebration of TM102 and the rowdiness of The Recession, the album is more effective than ineffective, far more energetic than boring.
Another highlight comes with the inspiring “Trapped” (next to Jill Scott)—where Jeezy offers some of the realist shit he ever wrote over J.U.S.T.I.C.E League’s lurching backdrop (“I’ve been cursed since the day this Earth earthed me/I been cursed since the day my momma birthed me/And how did I get here in the first place?/Oh, that’s right the trap was my birthplace”) and the soulful exuberance cooing “I Do” featuring Jay-Z and Andre 3000.
Despite the abundance of features (twelve), Snow’s fourth studio album is indeed a win. It’s not glutted with a blizzard of coke boasts like his previous projects in the TM series, and offers a little more variety than just street cuts. But rest assured, the album is filled with anthems that’ll have you riding around your hood all day with your gun shit. So is Da Snowman back? It feels like he never left. —Ralph Bristout (@RalphieBlackmon)