Executive producers: Demetrius Ellerbee and L.A. Reid
Track listing: The Recession (Intro) / Welcome Back / By the Way / Crazy World / What They Want / Amazin’ / Hustlaz Ambition / Who Dat / Don’t You Know / Circulate / Word Play / Vacation / Everything / Talkin’ It There / Don’t Do It / Put On / Get Allot / My President
September 20, 2008
Hip Hop is Dead, Nas proclaimed nearly two years earlier in the title of his own chart-topping album. His commentary on the genre was likely more aimed at its vitality as an art form, rather than a commercial force, because even in the midst of the worst downturn the history of the music business, hip hop continued to sell, at least, relatively well.
After a slow start in 2008, with the exception of Rick Ross’s Trilla, hip hop staged a comeback in the summer with Lil Wayne’s chart-topping Tha Carter III, followed by Nas’s summit-reaching self-titled set. Young Jeezy’s The Recession marked the third hip hop set to hit Number 1 in the summer of ’08 and the second time the rapper born Jay Jenkins had topped the chart.
Following the release of the 2006 Number 1 The Inspiration, Jeezy stayed in the public eye with a number of releases designed to capitalize on his newfound fame, most notably 2007’s Cold Summer: The Authorized Mixtape. The album, billed as Young Jeezy Presents U.S.D.A… (that’s “United Streets Dopeboys of America” for those not in the know), peaked at number four in the spring of 2007, proving that anything bearing the name Young Jeezy could still shift some units.
Aside from his own releases, Jeezy also continued to stay in the spotlight with guest spots, including a high-profile stint on Usher’s chart-topping single “Love in the Club.” Even before The Recession, his third proper album, hit the street, Jeezy was receiving props from Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, who reportedly got himself pumped for his eight Gold Medal-winning swims by listening to “Go Getta,” a track from Jeezy’s 2006 set, The Inspiration: Thug Motivation 102.
For The Recession, Jeezy consciously attempted to broaden his appeal. “I think I came up with the name The Recession like midstream into the album, because when I looked up at the songs I had, like ‘My President’ and ‘Crazy World,’ I was like, maybe I’m paying too much attention to what’s going on, and I didn’t want my music to come out in a depressive [or] negative way,” he told Mesfin Fekadu of The Associated Press. “So I looked at what I had and I was like, ‘The rest of the songs that I am going to do are going to be those “We Shall Overcome” anthems that were always made, but were more street.’ But now I want to make them for everybody. You don’t even just have to be from the streets to know where I am coming from. Even though that’s what the music is intended for, I want to put it into terms where everyone can get it.”
Jeezy’s universal message proved to be a hit with fans. It sold 260,000 copies in its first week, according to Nielsen SoundScan. However, that number fell short of the 352,000-opening week he scored with his previous chart-topper, The Inspiration, Billboard reported.
While the fans snapped up The Recession, critics were divided. The album “is a few tracks too bloated to make it 2008’s What’s Going On, it still captures an incredible hulk of a rapper brilliantly embracing his Dark Knight sensibilities, delivering gloom and boom in a voice that refuses to be downsized,” wrote Chris Richards of the Washington Post. Yet Los Angeles Times critic Jeff Weiss dismissed the album in the paper. In an original draft of his review, published on his Passion of the Weiss blog, he noted, “The album’s lone anomaly is smash single, the Kanye West-aided ‘Put On.’ Yet the track’s success only serves to highlight the stark differences between the charismatic and complex West and the stagnant, superficial Jeezy.”
THE TOP FIVE
Week of September 20, 2008
1. The Recession, Young Jeezy
2. The Block, New Kids on the Block
3. LAX, The Game
4. Rock N Roll Jesus, Kid Rock
5. All Hope is Gone, Slipknot
Here’s the video clip for Young Jeezy’s “Put On.”