Young Jeezy's first album for Def Jam, Let's Get It: Thug Motivation 101
, was such a breakout success that it immediately left his Bad Boy
album with Boyz N da Hood -- released just weeks prior -- as an afterthought. What is his appeal, exactly? His persona revolves around being a crack dealer, but he spins it as a motivational speaker who encourages people to do what they need to do to get paid. School kids proudly donned Jeezy's snowman T-shirts, even if the closest they'll ever come to hustling is selling chocolates for a class trip. Jeezy's not an exceptional rapper; he has a peculiar way of getting his support, though it's not without a discernible amount of charisma. On The Inspiration: Thug Motivation 102
, this is best exemplified in the opening verse to the Timbaland-produced "3 A.M.": "It's Young Jizzo and I'm back with Timbo/With another hit, you're still stuck in a limbo/A ad lib here and a ad lib there/F*ck it, ad libs everywhere." Few other MCs could get away with something so purposefully lazy. In Jeezy's half-determined/half-careless voice, it's a quotable (and a pretty damn funny one at that), more energizing and memorable than an average MC's complex, tongue-twisting metaphor. To that kind of extent, Jeezy does little to make this disc different from Let's Get It. Its first several tracks limp and flail around, which isn't a good sign, but once "I Luv It" kicks in, everything tightens and sharpens, placing the album a very slight shade beneath Let's Get It. Some of the highlights: "I Luv It," the closest stature-wise to "Go Crazy," a DJ Toomp production that's as anthemic as his work on T.I.'s "What You Know"; "Mr. 17.5," a fine "Go Crazy" retread. There's also "Streets on Lock," a "Trapstar" retread, where Jeezy maps out some of the reasons for his success: "When I speak, these niggas believe me/'Cause, bitch, I'm Jeezy." "Dreamin'," in which Jeezy recalls the guilt of being a crack dealer while his mother's an addict, takes the cake as the best reflecting pool track of 2006.