(Def Jam; 2008)
By Colin McGowan | 8 September 2008
Jeezy packs a lot of stupid metaphors into his verses in his inaccurately-titled third effort, reminding you he’s not an xbox. He also likens himself to LeBron James, though a more apt comparison makes itself clear through the boundless bombast, infectious charisma, and vapid sensationalism: Jeezy is something like Stallone circa Rambo. While The Recession may be an ugly closet packed to the hinges with empty bravado and posturing (tremendously insightful economic commentary by the way, Snowman), it would be sad to ignore how much immensely trashy fun it is. Watching Stallone break heads isn’t an intellectual pursuit, but it’s still enough to scratch one’s bi-yearly itch for cataclysmic bullshit.
In the same vein, Jeezy in hoarse-throated snarl: “Let me check my attitude / ‘Scuse me Mister Attitude / Why you got a attitude?” Yet I still smirk with glee. Perhaps because the beats are so stupid (good), with density like lead and triumphance something like horns ushering Caesar to his courtside seats at the Coliseum. In fact, they are horns, bastardized as they are, mixed in with dime store synths and MIDI strings. The total is a neat stack of budget masterpieces. “My President” swells with pride, “Vacation”‘s keys float above the ground in their pseudo-spooky opulence, and “By The Way”‘s defiant chorus is augmented with muted horns, more of the same but fitting.
Jeezy manages to fuck precisely zero of this splendor up, raspy tenor low as the scrape of a razor blade, charisma clutched in hand like a wad, and modesty, well, absent. And that’s how we’d prefer our caricatures, right? Not to comment on Jeezy in a personal respect, but rapper Jeezy is an asshole, spectacularly well-assured and foolhardily sincere in his “fuck you“s. “Welcome Back” is all violent electronic screeching and vitriol, assaulting the proverbial “haters” with profanity-laced insults before settling comfortably into self-aggrandizement. Like most everything on this album. Stallone: “Yeah, killing all those fucking Commies was great, but the important part is I looked nothing less than studly while doing so.” And such arrogance apparently can be a virtue—most of the tracks here prove as much, all swagger and sneer, employed in a fashion so intoxicating one forgets that not much is actually being said. Cool explosions trumping solid dialogue.
This is The Recession‘s glaring flaw, though, because flash fails to resonate after an extended period, and all the repetitive 808s, trapisms, and feeble attempts at political commentary get tiresome after 75 minutes. Relistening, the porousness and vapidity of the material makes it pretty obvious that rapper Jeezy’s personality is one note, gruff and brash, forever and ever. But in the album’s waning moments, “My President” erases any genuine qualms, sporting the record’s best Toomp impression (that’s including the Toomp-produced “The Recession (Intro)”), conjuring images of Jeezy atop some indomitably colossal skyscraper expounding: “My president is black / My Lambo’s blue / And I’ll be goddamned if my rims ain’t too,” providing us with our overdramatic, indulgent final scene to a self-important saga; we realize purchasing Swedish Fish for this was redundant. This is pop candy at its pinnacle.