Young Jeezy
Thug Motivation 103

Young Jeezy’s 2008 album, “The Recession,” turned out to be a better economic indicator than even the Consumer Confidence Survey. More than predicting our country’s financial woes, the album became the crowning achievement in Jeezy’s career, cementing his rise to mainstream star. “Thug Motivation 103: Hustlerz Ambition,” isn’t as thrilling, but proves that Jeezy doesn’t have to see the future to remain among the genre’s elite. It doesn’t matter what kind of stories he’s telling, as long he’s telling them in his once-in-a-generation rasp.

There are few more arresting sounds in music than the 34-year-old rapper in full growl. His voice is something like a garbage disposal come to life — scary, serrated, vicious. While his throat sounds full of gravel, the beats remain as big as boulders. It’s an imposing formula and one that hasn’t steered him wrong yet. As the title suggests, “TM 103” is something of a thematic retreat, an album less of economic empathy and one of celebratory excess.

“Lookin’ at my Rollie, yeah, it’s almost seven/Bill Gates state of mind wit’ a automatic weapon,” he offers on “F.A.M.E.,” one of the many odes to Jeezy’s journey from the streets to mega-stardom. “I Do” is a surprising detour, an ode to fidelity featuring guest verses from Jay-Z and Andre 3000 that’s especially jarring in the wake of the album’s raunchy pairing of “Supafreak” and “All We Do.” Jeezy sounds more in his element trading rough verses with underground survivors Trick Daddy (“This One’s For You,” a Rick Ross diss) and Freddie Gibbs (“.38”).

On an album littered with guests, one of Jeezy’s best attributes is made all the more clear — for a rapper, he’s nearly peerless when it comes to delivering hooks, harsh croak and all. Every chorus sounds like a triumph and almost makes you want to chew on fiberglass and try to shout along.

— David Malitz

Cover art for Young Jeezy's album “Thug Motivation 103.” His first album, “The Recession” in 2008, brought the artist into the mainstream. (Courtesy of Def Jam)

Recommended Tracks

“.38,” “This One’s For You,” “F.A.M.E.”