Young Jeezy
The Recession
Def Jam

3 stars

It’s campaign season, so even non-hip-hop heads should have noticed the last track, “Mr. President,” on Young Jeezy’s The Recession.

Over sweeping, “Hail to the Chief”-style strings, Jeezy raps “My president is black / My Lambo’s blue / And I’ll be goddamned if my rims ain’t too.”

The track isn’t as overtly political as Nas’s “Black President” (which echoes its “Yes we can / Change the world” hook with a sample of an Obama speech), but it’s a digestible statement of support that marries social change and materialism. The chorus repeats the “My president is black” refrain, followed by “My momma ain’t home and daddy still in jail / Tryin’ a make a plate / Anybody seen the scale?”, then “My money’s light green and my Jordans light gray / And they love to see white / Now how much you tryn’ a say?” (For a campaign that’s been looking for the support of the hip-hop community, thank God this isn’t the song that calls Hillary Clinton an irrelevant bitch.)

Jeezy’s growl and trademark boasts still ground the body of the album, his third, but could it be that Jeezy’s brand of crack rap has gained an extra consciousness? Jeezy’s lyrics address his personal politics more than before; the album’s introduction opens with newscasters warning about the economic downturn, until those voices are overtaken by a woman’s frustrated rant about the rising cost of living. But don’t worry that the soapbox oratory outweighs Jeezy’s regular fare; rhymes about cash and blow still dominate.

Reassurance that we just have to keep on keeping on when “Bush tryn’ a punish us … you get more time for selling dope than murder / in this crazy world” translates neatly into Jeezyian terms: Money may be slow, but the world keeps turning just as his rims keep spinning.

But forget the new consciousness for a moment. Even the rhymes about slinging on the streets are sharper than before, and the album (produced by DJ Toomp, Kanye West and Drumma Boy, among others) packages them into controlled, punchy numbers: “Circulate,” with bright trumpet calls and hiccupy verses, and “Word Play,” where he addresses haters over a soaring soul line.

Built on rifle-shot snare, “Everything” slouches dirge-like toward an ending that — for better or worse — becomes a vehicle for guest-star Anthony Hamilton. At a time when it seems the majority of big-label rappers lean heavily on guest contributors, Jeezy keeps a relatively low guest list, featuring Hamilton, Lil Boosie, Nas, Trey Songz and West, which allows Jeezy to carry his own weight. The Recession’s first single, “Put On,” simply pops with the West-on-Autotune guest verse; West doesn’t commandeer the track as he’s prone to doing.

The Recession slows down when the braggadocio-heavy schtick turns to filler, like the lazy, questionable chorus of “Amazin’ ”: “Cuz bitch I’m amazin’ / Look what I’m blazin / Eyes so low / Yeah I look like an Asian.” The stormy “By the Way” tires with heavy-handed repetitions of the title phrase, rescued somewhat by rising, video-game synths.

Although Jeezy’s execution of up-by-your-boot straps crack rap was always consistent — raw, though carefully produced, with a heaviness perfect for blasting in the car in hot weather — The Recession’s stronger political bent demonstrates dimensions at which his previous work only hinted.

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