Over the course of more than a decade in the music game (and who knows how long in the streets), Young Jeezy has more or less Seen It All.
The ATL mainstay once again draws upon that deep well of experience on his newly-released fifth studio album, via Def Jam Recordings. Subtitled The Autobiography, the set directly follows 2011's TM:103 Hustlerz Ambition. It comes on the heels of successful singles "Me OK" and "Beautiful," as well as the Booth-acclaimed title track.
Game, Jay Z, Rick Ross and more make guest appearances throughout the album, which is produced by the likes of Black Metaphor, Cardo and Drumma Boy.
Seen It All: The Autobiography Album Review
My first introduction to Jeezy was when I first started reading news reports that schools across America were banning Snowman t-shirts. (Surprise suburban America, snow is a metaphor for cocaine.) Of course, those news reports immediately made me go listen to Jeezy's recently released Thug Motivation 101 album, which because I was still firmly entrenched in my lyrical east-coast rap over everything phase, I dismissed. Even years later, when I was writing about hip-hop for a living, I still wasn't really listening to Jeezy; The Recession didn't sound to me like anything more than good work-out music.
I can't remember what
So when I first pressed play on Jizzle's fifth studio album, Seen It All, I was listening as a full-fledged fan. With news of his recent gun arrest and his revealing Combat Jack interview as the backdrop, I spent the next few days listening to Seen It All almost constantly, and while it's not everything my Snowman heart was hoping for, it's certainly a worthy addition to his catalog. I'm really looking for two things from a Jeezy album, the first being some full-fledged bangers, and Seen It All delivers on that count nicely. The first time I heard "What You Say" it was through my computer speakers and I was relatively unimpressed, but later, with my headphones on at full volume....the bass re-aligned my spine. The same goes for album opener "1-4 Block," single "Me OK" and the hilariously titled "Black Eskimo," if you can hear those and not feel inspired to run your block, whatever block that is, that's your problem.
The second thing I'm looking for is a couple transcendent tracks, records that give some more texture to the purely aggressive trap life feel of bangers like "What You Say." In that framework,"Seen It All" is easily one of the best songs Jeezy's ever done, and I've now listened to enough of the man's music to say that confidently. Jeezy's minimalist growl contrasts perfectly with the more melodic beat, the concept is perfect, and Jay comes through with one of his best verses in recent memory. (I would have slapped my grandma to hear Freddie Gibbs' flow on this beat too, sorry Grandma, but unfortunately that bridge looks pretty thoroughly burned.) "Beautiful" also comes across nicely, especially considering its dual purpose as a Rick Ross beef-squasher, but unfortunately not every collaboration is so smooth. Akon sounds as dated as you'd expect on "Been Gettin Money" and I admire Jeezy's attempt at a "Song Cry"-esque track with "No Tears," but it's just not happening with Future, who might have been better used on "4 Zones" instead of Jeezy trying his own hand at Auto-Tuned crooning.
On the whole though, while it might not be a classic, Seen It All will go down in hip-hop history as yet another dope album from an artist who's had an enormous (although under-rated) impact on rap. Jeezy was the first artist to really prove that Atlanta trap rap could be commercially lucrative, a blueprint that Rick Ross and others have followed to reach their own rap stardom. I don't think Jeezy really gets the recognition he deserves for that from the larger hip-hop world, but I can't control the larger hip-hop world. I can, however, control what plays through my headphones, and I foresee Seen It All staying in regular rotation for years to come. HA HA!
[Nathan S. is the managing editor of The DJBooth and a hip-hop writer. He also occasionally talks in podcast form and appears on RevoltTV. His beard is awesome. This is his Twitter.]
* Note to self, write "100 Properly Rated Rappers" listicle.
DJBooth Rating - 4 Spins