Young Jeezy/Boyz N Da Hood
Let's Get It: Thug Motivation 101 (Def Jam)
Southern rappers are like those standup comedians in The Aristocrats: because they're all telling the same stories, the only things that set them apart are the particularities of their voices and the depths of their depravity. On those two counts, Atlanta's Young Jeezy bests just about all comers. First, there's his voice, a subterranean bellow that sounds less like Bone Crusher's than like a drunken preacher's, imparting his simple-minded catch phrases ("Yeeeah!" and "That's riiiight!") with the gravity of scripture. As for his lyrics, Jeezy's nickname says it all: he's the Snowman, iced out in diamonds and slinging white powder by the kilo.
Your new favourite rapper sent his buzz into overdrive early this year with Trap or Die, a mix tape that's arguably better than both his solo debut (Let's Get It: Thug Motivation 101) and Boyz N Da Hood, the first record from his much-hyped super-group. The latter outing pairs Jeezy and fellow ATL comer Jody Breeze with the veteran team of Duke and Big Gee, thus providing a nice cross-generational perspective on the hustler's lifestyle. The older MCs play their positions well, but it's the young guns who really steal the show here, Breeze's lyrical contortions weaving nimbly around Jeezy's blackly comic one-liners, all set to the kind of beats that get trunks rattling.
When Breeze's solo album drops later this year, it will be hard-pressed to match Let's Get It for consistency. From song to song Jeezy's debut is frighteningly good, one of the rare major-label discs that successfully manages (in Jay-Z's famous words) to bring "the suburbs to the 'hood". If there are crossover songs on this album-likely candidates include "My Hood" and "Soul Survivor"-they will cross over only on Jeezy's terms, littered as they are with the gruesome views and specific 'hood references that have made him the hottest rapper on the streets, in cyberspace, and everywhere in between.