Young Jeezy

Young Jeezy is just that—young. Originally named Li'l J (actually, originally he was named Jay Jenkins), the Atlanta rapper has the deadly serious focus of a teenage phenom with his eyes on the prize. His music completes the nefarious circle of monetarily driven rap: Jeezy leaves the coy allusions to other suckers and raps almost constantly about money—getting money, keeping money and getting more money. Far from trite, Young Jeezy's approach is a bracingly hard-core realization of what popular American hip-hop has hinged on in this musical epoch. It follows, of course, that his rap style isn't all that gripping; like anyone else singularly focused on getting paid, there's not a lot of room for him to revel in the fun and games of rap music. His sound, though, is great, particularly on last year's record, The Inspiration: Beats are thick and loose, vocals layered in deep Southern strata and unexpected elements like strings and synths recall an Olympian's pump-up soundtrack. Which isn't too far off, considering the approach a player like Young Jeezy has to take: Kid's well aware that staying knee-deep in bills means staying knee-deep in fresh sounds.

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