Young Jeezy doesn’t need anyone to give him the best of both worlds. Behind door number one, the Atlanta native has President Hova and Def Jam, who are capitalizing on his underground mix-tape success by releasing Jeezy’s major-label debut, Let’s Get It. Behind door number two, he has P. Diddy, who chose Jeezy for his prefab Southern rap supergroup, Boyz N Da Hood. Either way, this hustler-turned rapper wins out.
The Snowman, as he’s known (“They call me residue / I leave blow on these beats”), follows in the footsteps of A-Town selfmade men such as T.I., though he sounds like a Dixie-fried, slow-motion Jadakiss — a hulking MC who’s equipped with both darkly comic punch lines and the street cred to prove he’s earned his name. On his solo slab, Jeezy rides beats of the digital Southern-stroll variety (the Mannie Fresh-produced “And Then What”) and the East Coast helium-soul style (“Last of the Dying Breed”). His lyrics have both a down-to-asphalt feel (“I got million-dollar dreams and federal nightmares / We pop Cris, my niggas, and still drink beer”) and a smirking humor (“I’m so emotional, I love my Glock”).
On the Boyz N Da Hood disc, Jeezy falls in line with the rest of Diddy’s Georgia recruits: Jody Breeze, Big Gee, and Big Duke. Posited as a Southern N.W.A, the foursome make a credible attempt to live up to the hype, powering themselves on Diddy’s deep-pocket samples (Jazze Pha, Erick Sermon), Southern harmony, social observations, and an unflinching amount of red-eyed trap-house talk. Rather than act as Da Band-style demographic appeasers, Boyz revive the dying model of the hip-hop group. Every song — from the menacing introductory single, “Dem Boyz,” to the album standout “Felonies” — is fueled by the dynamic between Breeze’s ferocious twang and Jeezy’s asthmatic warnings. Pity they don’t have a reality show themselves.
Grades: Young Jeezy, B; Boyz N Da Hood, B+