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.