Young Jeezy – Thug Motivation 103: Hustlerz Ambition | Album Review

With the festive season already offering up classic material [Common, The Roots], there is still a hankering from a few for something more… Something motivational. Whilst the aforementioned may offer a whole heap of realness, ATL’s supremo Young Jeezy offers an intriguing dosage of uncompromising street tales and reality which keeps many heads drawn to him.

A bullish aura in addition to a mind more aware of social matters than some presume, Jeezy’s series of Thug Motivation albums have cannoned out narratives ranging from the pride of his city to the significance of a black president, somewhat surprisingly garnering critical acknowledgement. Making Thug Motivation 103 a highly anticipated feature, sighs of relief were breathed when Def Jam announced its release would fall in the last quarter of 2011. With no more delays in sight and a tracklist announced, now all can marvel at the next installment to one of Hip Hops most intriguing underdog series.

With all the label politics and reasons cited for the delayed release of TM103, Jeezy acknowledges the delay on the aptly titled opening track “Waiting.” Playing up to the crowd who bay for his street poetry, the C.T.E Head doesn’t disappoint; taking hold of the Lil Lody constructed beat and declaring himself king amidst a world of pretenders. Young Jeezy’s gravel tones and bossy delivery adds grandeur to the listening experience of his fourth album and its grand atmosphere is well deserved.

Staying well in his comfort zone of referencing hard white, gun talk and V.I.P status, Jizzle’s rhetoric scores moderately on lyrical execution but high in its ‘hype’ value. With a target heavily placed on his back, “Nothing” describes Jeez being on the radar of adversaries still on the block, whilst “Way Too Gone” celebrates (with rapper Future) the financial and female benefits of his musical conquests, and he gets ghetto romantic on the far from subtle “All We Do.”

Young Jeezy recruits rookies and experience to add an edge to Thug Motivation 103. For those who are acquired to such taste, recent phenomena 2 Chainz adds his signature drawl to “SupaFreak,” the New York Mafioso of Fabolous and Jadakiss provide lyrical sharpness on the shadowy “OJ,” whilst Jeezy gets sleepy eyed on the smoky “Higher Learning” alongside Snoop Dogg, Devin The Dude, Wiz Khalifa and Mitchelle’I. For the die hard fans of the C.T.E General, YJ’s strength comes from when he goes at tracks solo, with only the anthemic instrumentals and famed ad-libs as his ally.

Whilst the mentioned guest stars do make TM103 a star studded event, at times the added names take away the musical ferocity from potentially heavyweight tracks. However, when looking at features which bolster the album, three tracks come to mind. The first – “F.A.M.E” with self proclaimed King T.I., gets heavy on the imposing J.U.S.T.I.C.E League production as Tip and Jizzle again dispel the myth that money and celebrity with an air of greatness in their delivery.

Going in the opposite direction of the intense “F.A.M.E,” “I Do” is a celebratory affair, bringing on board two lyrical kingpins in the form of Jay Z and Andre 3000 to bask in their own individual loves. Jeezy’s ode to the game, Jigga’s love of the streets and 3K’s wooing of a sweetheart are unsurprisingly solid performances, shining uniquely on the M16 production which provides a lighter moment to the predominantly intense atmosphere of 103.

The final – and arguably greatest feature – comes on “Trapped” when the darling of contemporary soul Jill Scott holds together Jeezy’s woe induced verses. The haunting J.U.S.T.I.C.E League orchestration provides a claustrophobic scene as the rapper comes to terms with the burdens of being birthed in his troubled surroundings and the consequences of it. “Trapped” also stands out amongst the rest of the 14 tracks (as well as the bonus cuts including “Ballin’” with Lil Wayne and “Never Be The Same” alongside Eminem) due to Jizzle embracing the human interest side to the trap in comparison to the ignorant glorifications of the struggle often conceived.

Going for consistency instead of sporadic mega anthems, Thug Motivation 103 sees Young Jeezy once again usher in ‘the struggle’ which impresses regardless of its delay. It scores points for its realness (however bleak and distasteful), as rather than playing up to the overused Tony Montana blueprint, Jeezy’s stance as the more rugged, everyday street soldier remains unpolished and honest; which has been at the forefront of the Def Jam artist’s product since his inception.

Whilst the LP doesn’t make the greatest jump to the next platform of musical greatness, as production remains familiar to previous records and with evidence lacking of an upgraded lyrical pedigree, Jeezy’s energy and deliverance pulls many of the tracks away from the mediocrity zone. A fitting end to a trilogy which has sent shockwaves throughout the music world, Thug Motivation 103: Hustlerz Ambition brings to a closure the definition of the hustle from one of rap’s enigmatic beings.

Young Jeezy – Thug Motivation 103: Hustlerz Ambition
Released: December 20, 2011
Label: CTE/Def Jam
Buy: iTunes UK / iTunes US / Amazon UK / Amazon US

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