Tuesday, November 14, 2006

what it is. what it was.

more contemplative snow scenes

Expectations for an album can’t help but frame an artist for success or failure. Nas and Snoop seem to be succeeding and, as highly as I regard Raekwon, his ramp up to OB4CL2 is also surpassing my already high expectations. Young Jeezy plays on a different field than those three MCs but the bar he has to clear is, none-the-less, higher than most. His latest buzz tape with DJ Drama ‘I Am The Street Dream,’ provides just enough lift on this trial jump to increase expectations even more. There is great 'weighty' stuff here but even Jeezy’s throw away party joints live up to his subtle-with-a-sledgehammer brilliance. Paying homage to Three 6 Mafia (yeah we love to pop collars / you can catch me in the projects like Pat) Jeezy flips Project Pat’s immortal ‘Gel and Weave’ hook to honor his favorite party favors. His rhymes span the hip-hop map from the Bay Area (I got my Stunna shades on / tell me when to go) to Hollis (Adidas shoes / in my trap-star stance) but he holds them in his sphere of phrasing (witness his pronunciation of ‘Adidas’). Although one could easily read contradiction or sloppiness in these ad-lib-punctuated phrases (I came to get drunk, baby / I ain’t tryin’ to dance /… after 4 or 5 shots, 3 or 4 blunts / I just might do my dance…) never doubt that his simplicity embodies precision. It is no mistake that he only mentions coke when mixing it with henny.
On Drama’s latest mixtape the between-cut voice messages remind us how ferocious Jeezy’s personality and voice can sound. Does that frantic energy have a more pronounced contrast with his booth vocals in this sophomore round or is it just easy to forget compared to his mesmerizing and deliberate delivery? Like David Mamet, Jeezy can annoy audiences with affected construction of shoptalk chunks and repetition of phrases (for rhythm in Mamet’s case, for emphasis in Jeezy’s). Those audiences have made a bad assumption that ‘real’ depends on naturalism rather than the poetic. Although I have no doubt that both writers would distance themselves from the word ‘poetry.’
Who is going to make me a t-shirt with this zen nugget emblazoned on it?

All up in the spot and make it do what it do
and that’s exactly what it does.
What it is. What it was.

How real is that? It is what it is.

Jeezy voice mail to DJ Drama
Young Jeezy – All I Need