Published Aug 29, 2014When you're 36 years old and dropping your fifth major rap album, it's time to drop the "young" prefix. By now, Atlanta trap star Jeezy — who actually made local noise back in 2001 under the handle Lil J — is anything but a novice. So as fellow ATLiens Ludacris, T.I. and Gucci Mane have, at times, reached higher highs, they've also released some bricks. Seemingly reckless when he burst into the hip-hop conversation a decade ago, Jeezy has proven to be remarkably consistent, maturing with each LP ("My President," anyone?) yet still cranking out bass-heavy block anthems made for after-market car stereos and rolled windows.
"What You Say" and "Me OK" smack you with the type of rumbling, chant-charged hooks that require just one listen to win CTE loyalists over. And the Jay Z-assisted title track is a heater of the first degree, as two famous former drug dealers reflect on their snowy past. But it's on simmering cuts like the very Pac-like "Holy Ghost," which wrestles with regret and forgiveness, and the upbeat downer "Beez Like," that we get a glimpse of Jay Jenkins' demons. Sure, the usual Jeezy tropes of hustling and encouraging others to also hustle haven't gone anywhere — the rote "Been Getting Money (featuring Akon)" could be plopped on any Jeezy album and no one would notice — but there's a heap of real-life wisdom here, too. The reactionary Jeezy probably got your attention, but the reflective Jeezy is determined to maintain it. He's a rare, diamond-encrusted rapper who still plausibly speaks for the poor. (CTE/Def Jam)