Young Jeezy with Island/Def Jam president Steve Bartels at Jeezy's listening session in New York Thursday night
On Thursday night, a who's-who of hip-hop tastemakers gathered in New York's Quad Recording Studios to get a first listen to Young Jeezy's much talked about, long delayed fourth album "TM:103 - Hustlerz Ambition," set to arrive on Jeezy's own Corporate Thugz Entertainment in conjunction with Def Jam / Universal on Dec. 20. Standing in the middle of a packed studio and dressed in all black, Jeezy played host, introducing tracks and pantomiming along to records, skully cap on, drink in hand. "It's been a long time coming," he admitted before playing the collection, which included songs with Ne-Yo ("Leave It Alone," produced by Warren G), Jadakiss and Fabolous ("OJ"), and Jay-Z and Outkast's Andre 3000 (on the standout "I Do").
Among the guests were Def Jam President Steve Bartels; Warner Music Group EVP (and former Def Jam president) Kevin Liles, who is managing Jeezy through his KWL Enterprises; Murder Inc. founder Irv Gotti; Def Jam's VP of promotion Shawn Pecas; Def Jam Lifestyle Director Steve Carless; and Def Jam Youth Lifestyle Marketing Manager Tim Glover.
Also present were MTV and Shade 45 personality Sway Calloway, Hot 97 personality Minya "Miss Info" Oh, GQ Senior Editor Will Welch, XXL Magazine Editor-in-Chief Vanessa Satten, XXL Executive Editor Jayson Rodriguez and Editor-at Large Shaheem Reid (both formerly of MTV News), Fader Senior Editor Sam Hockley-Smith, Jeff Rosenthal of It's the Real, Complex's Insanul Ahmed and RapRadar's Brian "B.Dot" Miller, among others.
"I wanted to bring it back to like back in the day, do something different," said Gabe Tesoriero, Def Jam's Vice President of Media and Artist Relations, about holding the event at Quad. The studio has played host to a multitude of notable rap recording sessions over the years, but is perhaps most infamously known in rap circles as the studio where Tupac Shakur was shot five times while being robbed in 1994.
By the end of the night, the session had dissolved into something more like a house party. Liles and Pecas were dancing in the middle of the room while members of the press - many of them longtime friends and associates, who had worked with Jeezy over the years - talked about the album, and one of Jeezy's CTE associates passed out TM:103 promo tees. "Let it go, let it go!" Pecas yelled, as Jeezy stepped up to introduce the last song of the night. "I won't even tell y'all who's on this track," Jeezy said over the music. "I'm just gonna play it."
As "I Do" banged through the speakers and the collected members of the media marveled at the song's superstar cameos, photographer Johnny Nunez swept into the room in a flurry of flash. Nunez was gone just as quickly and the night came to an end.
Young Jeezy has sent all three of his albums to date to the top of the Top R&B/Hip-Hop albums chart. Two of them, "TM 102: The Inspiration" (2006) and his most recent solo effort, "The Recession" (2008), debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. (His debut album, "Thug Motivation 101: Let's Get It," debuted at No. 2.) The first single pegged to "TM:103," "Lose My Mind," featured Plies and peaked at No. 35 on the Hot 100 on May, 22, 2010.