Three years is not a particularly long period of time, but for a marquee hip-hop artist like Young Jeezy, it's an eternity. The last time Young Jeezy put out an album -- in 2008, when he released "The Recession" -- Barack Obama had yet to be elected, and the actual recession was only starting to take hold on the U.S. economy. Jeezy put both of those top-line news stories to good use on "The Recession," an underrated departure from his "Thug Motivation" series that saw the Atlanta superstar lament the lack of jobs in the U.S. before toasting Obama's imminent election on the stellar single, "My President."
"Thug Motivation 103: Hustlerz Ambition" hits shelves after months of non-starter singles and album delays; with a final release date of Dec. 20, the album may be arriving too late to make an impact on many Christmas wish lists. Still, "TM103" finds Jeezy clearly reinvigorated, and ready to redefine the hard-hitting sound that he rode to prominence in 2005. The album features a strong mix of solo cuts ("Nothing," "What I Do (Just Like That") and guest stars ( Jay-Z and Andre 3000 on "I Do," Jill Scott on "Trapped") that's reminiscent of Jeezy's debut, "Let's Get It: Thug Motivation 101." Yet the rapper has subtly improved his wordplay and expanded his thematic reach, while sticking to his specialties of inspiring the masses and flipping off detractors. "I betcha feel like the whole world hatin' on you/But what's the holdup? The whole world waiting on you," Jeezy tells himself on "F.A.M.E.," the album's best cut.
"TM103" may not be as consistently entertaining as Jeezy's earlier work, but the man hasn't lost a step, either. Let's just hope that "TM104" doesn't take as long to see the light of day.
Which songs on Young Jeezy's "Thug Motivation 103: Hustlerz Ambition" are among his best work? Here's our Twitter-length track-by-track review.
Jeezy opens "TM:103" by stating the obvious to the blocks and blogs, they've been "waiting on 103."
2. "What I Do (Just LIke That)"
Jeezy gives us a play-by-play track of his day to day on the trippy Drumma Boy-produced track.
3. "OJ" feat. Fabolous and Jadakiss
Young correlates the clearance of street hustling with O.J. Simpson' s relieve of charge. Two NY finests join in on the wordplay.
"Nothing" is a direct message to the haters: Jeezy made himself into something.
5. "Way Too Gone" feat. Future
Jeezy boasts his champagne living has him gone, over Mike Will outerspace soundscapes.
6. "Supafreak" feat. 2 Chainz
An austere banger in the vein of "Recession's" "By The Way," but 2 Chainz sounds out of place.
7. "All We Do"
"All we do is smoke and fuck, smoke and fuck," Jeezy rasps, quickly explaining why "TM103" took so long to finish.
8. "Leave You Alone" feat. Ne-Yo
Piano loops, subtle synths and classiness courtesy of Ne-Yo make this a winner.
Vivid descriptions of Jeezy's hustling days are offset by a celebratory but forgettable hook.
10. "Trapped" feat. Jill Scott
Ms. Scott and Jeezy spar over J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League's opulent production, and an unexpected collaboration pays dividends.
11. "F.A.M.E." feat. T.I.
Stunning single features upfront introspection from two Atlanta heavyweights, but the beat seals the deal.
12. "I Do" feat. Jay-Z and Andre 3000
"International Player's Anthem," four years later. Jeezy combs the crowd for a bride, while Hov and Three-Stacks toast l-o-v-e.
13. "Higher Learning" feat. Snoop Dogg, Devin The Dude and Mitchelle'l
Shockingly, a song called "Higher Learning" with Snoop Dogg is about weed. Soulful paean to that green is a serviceable posse cut.
14. "This One's For You" feat. Trick Daddy
Young salutes his fans, while Trick Daddy returns and bemoans young dudes wearing "tight shirts and skinnies."