ÔÇ£Selling drugs canÔÇÖt really be that hard, can it?ÔÇØ is what I asked myself the first time I heard LetÔÇÖs Get It: Thug Motivation 101. For sure, this is an absurd question to ask and, going further, astoundingly stupid to consider since I actually knew people that used to sell drugs for a living whom are currently serving out federal prison sentences. The underlying point, though, was more so a testament of JeezyÔÇÖs words than it was for any desire to be the reincarnation of Big Meech. During the summer after my second year of college 11 years ago today, Jay Jenkins aka Young Jeezy dropped one of my favorite rap debuts of all time.
ThereÔÇÖll be no shortage of people who disagree with my opinion and, frankly, theyÔÇÖd be well within their right. But, any album that can convince an otherwise law abiding citizen to temporarily suspend the trajectory of his legal career to start up a drug dealing enterprise warrants some serious merit. More than that, there arenÔÇÖt too many albums I know that go as hard in the paint as this album despite the lead act being as limited in his lyricism as Jeezy is. What he lacked in wordplay, however, Jizzle more than made up with an undeniable swagger and some consistently monsterous production.
When I was in college, music was still very much a ÔÇ£carÔÇØ thing for me. As a college sophomore that lived off campus, I spent a majority of my time in transit. If I wasnÔÇÖt driving to class, I was either driving back home, driving to work, or driving to a party. Thug Motivation made the Bose speaker system in my ÔÇÿ93 Lexus sound like the entire recording studio was in my vehicle. With the music turned up and the bass on full tilt, tracks like ÔÇ£Thug Motivation 101,ÔÇØ ÔÇ£Standing Ovation,ÔÇØ ÔÇ£Get Ya Mind Right,ÔÇØ and ÔÇ£Trap or DieÔÇØ werenÔÇÖt just ÔÇ£songsÔÇØ to me. They sounded like full-fledged negro spirituals.
Young Jeezy rapped simply but was highly effective. It wasnÔÇÖt always what he said, but how he said it. His words were truly inspirational in a sense that he was simply trying to tell the world, ÔÇ£Yo. IÔÇÖm here. IÔÇÖve always had to grind and itÔÇÖs never going to stop.ÔÇØ When he raps ÔÇ£I used to hit the kitchen lights, cockroaches erywhere/ now I hit the kitchen lights and itÔÇÖs marble floors erywhereÔÇØ it didnÔÇÖt really matter that those lines didnÔÇÖt rhyme. What matters is the visual. The sense of progress is instantly relatable to anybody whoÔÇÖs striving to have the means to live life as they see fit.
His stories were palpable with paranoia as listeners, regardless of their background, could feel like they were right there with him. On ÔÇ£DonÔÇÖt Get CaughtÔÇØ he tells the story of being pulled over by the police. JeezyÔÇÖs riding dirty and knows that if the police officer ÔÇ£search [the] trunk, he might find the tec/ Or a bag full of O’s, wrapped in duct tape/ N*gga, between some dirty ass clothes.ÔÇØ ItÔÇÖs always in these small pockets of music where JeezyÔÇÖs seemingly limited ability to turn a phrase shines brightly. He had a mastery of the story he was sharing with fans and he wielded that power to tell the listener exactly what he wanted them to know.
Whenever I go on a road trip and I need something to add the to the playlist, TM: 101 almost always gets added. ItÔÇÖs an album full of bangers and sequenced in a way that makes it easy to let it rock from top to bottom. The album is easily a crown jewel in JeezyÔÇÖs long and storied career which manages to sound just as fresh now as it did 11 years ago. If youÔÇÖve somehow never heard the album (is this even possible?) go fix that now. If you havenÔÇÖt played it in a while, turn it up high and let out a ÔÇ£yyyyyeeeeeaaaaaahhhhhhhÔÇØ for old times sake.
Trap Star: Revisiting Young JeezyÔÇÖs Best Album, ÔÇÿLetÔÇÖs Get It: Thug Motivation 101ÔÇÖ : UPROXX