It’s taken me a while to adjust to the fact that I am an “old head”, but the concept is pretty simple: at the end of the day, there are 15 year-olds that are obsessed with hip-hop, and I’m over twice their age. Unlike other people my age, I don’t downplay the talent of younger artists.
I recognize that the emphasis on lyricism has changed and that melodies play a much more crucial role in hip-hop. I still listen to Jay-Z, Nas, and Biggie, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t enjoy Young Thug, Roddy Ricch, or Baby Keem, either.
I do know one thing, though: a lot of younger hip-hop fans have Jeezy (formerly Young Jeezy) ALL the way fucked up. He might not be as relevant as other artists now, but it seems like there are younger rappers that don’t mind taking shots at Jeezy.
This must be partially because Gucci Mane has played such an integral role in developing younger Atlanta talent. Jay Jenkins (Jeezy) kept more of a low-key profile when it came to signing or collaborating with younger rappers. “All There” was a notable exception — and it’s also an incredible song (RIP to Bankroll Fresh):
Young Thug lamented in his song, Light It Up: “Damn I can’t do nothing with Jeezy / and I plan on dying like this.” The line was simple — he has chosen his side, and Gucci Mane and Jeezy had the kind of “rap beef” that went all the way left — and became real beef. 21 Savage, who has also made his admiration for Gucci Mane quite clear — dissed Jeezy, as well.
I don’t pretend to know whether Atlanta rocks with the Snowman as much as it used to, and it’s no secret that the city loves Gucci Mane. However, it’s important to remember that there was a time where TI and Jeezy epitomized Southern rap. Jeezy was known for cinematic tracks that inspired those that might not have been motivated otherwise — and that kind of respect is hard to quantify.
Why did I take to Medium to show my appreciation for Jeezy? Well, he made it clear that he’s ready for some #Verzuz smoke against TI…and I see that a lot of people on Hip-Hop Twitter don’t recognize that this might be closer than they thought.
Jeezy may not have been known for lyricism the way TI was — but he still created some incredible songs and moments in rap history. For those that don’t know, TI was hoping for a duel with 50 Cent. Instead, he has now accepted a challenge that will undoubtedly lead to a night full of trap anthems.
If you’re a casual Jeezy fan, you might be expecting this list to include songs like the smash hit “Put On”, or point out that “Soul Survivor” was the kind of motivational street anthem that rap is missing these days. Those are some wonderful choices for great Jeezy songs, but I wouldn’t say that they are underrated.
We’re going to examine some of the most UNDERRATED Jeezy songs of all time. “I Do” may have stellar guest verses from two of the best emcees of all time — Jay-Z and Andre 3000 — but that’s for the people that don’t REALLY know Jeezy. The song was a smash hit and a great song — but it doesn’t embody what Jeezy is about.
These are five underrated and underappreciated songs from one of the most consistent Atlanta rappers of all time: Jay Jenkins, aka Jeezy.
Thug Motivation 101
There are few more recognizable Southern anthems than this one, starting with a haunting instrumental where Jeezy suggests that you “gotta believe” in thug motivation. If you’re from the South, this is the kind of intro that occupies a Meek Mill “Dreams And Nightmares (Intro)” status in cities like New Orleans, Houston, Atlanta, and more southern cities.
While the Donald Trump comparison may not have aged well, Jeezy’s words are still legendary to this day. If you walk up to a random person in a Southern city and say, “You ain’t never seen them pies…”
There’s a good chance that they’ll immediately respond with: Talking so much white, it’ll hurt your eyes!” Jeezy is known for his authenticity, emphasized in lines like: I seen it all, every gram, every bird / I spit the truth, every noun every verb” with the “That’s riiiiiiiiight” ad-lib. I get it: to younger fans, it might sound a little dry now…but it was ground-breaking for 2005.
Don’t take my word for it: ask around. Regardless, this is one of Jeezy’s most beloved songs of his entire career. Many have called Jeezy’s first studio album, Let’s Get It: Thug Motivation 101, a classic, and this is the first song that sets off the entire project.
Bury Me A G
Few songs are peak Jeezy, but “Bury Me A G” is undeniably one of them. The production here is absolutely incredible, and Jeezy’s voice boomed over the samples. Jeezy’s beauty is that he is often extremely effective in his simplicity. While other rappers are doing everything they can to impress you with multisyllabic rhyme schemes or creating some elaborate metaphor: Jeezy will just sit you there and tell you a story. This song appears on The Inspiration, released in 2006.
In this case, the story is that some people that were jealous of his success decided to shoot Jeezy dead. Jeezy’s street affiliations were well-known. He was tied in with The Black Mafia Family and close friends with its leader, Big Meech:
Jeezy has probably thought about jail and death more than many other rappers, but that doesn’t stop some exciting moments in this song where he speaks on who might owe him money and asking why people can’t give him “a second to think” as he processes the fact that he just died. The song asks that he is “buried a G, nothing more, nothing less.”
The song, overall, is something special. The chorus is more hypnotic than you might expect, and a lot of lines that might fall flat with other rappers seem a lot realer when it comes from Jeezy. He does a lot in this song: speaks to family members, asks for some forgiveness, and for you to “pour out a little liquor.”
By 2008, Young Jeezy (as he was called at the time) was one of the largest rappers. However, he had dominated the radio for three years, and there were questions about whether Jeezy would be able to adapt. In my opinion, Jeezy not only adapted but created the best album of his career in The Recession, released in September 2008.
There were plenty of rappers out in 2008, but I can assure you that they were more focused on creating hits rather than speaking to the actual recession taking place during the time. Jeezy decided to flip the script and base his entire project around the country’s economic conditions, and he created an album that has truly stood the test of time. Many rap fans appreciated Jeezy’s flow, which could be predictable at times, but were wondering if he was capable of much more.
“Circulate” sees Jeezy switching things up completely…here, he is rhyming over a Billy Paul sample and it’s a far cry from the haunting trap anthems that is more of Jenkins’ forte. In this song, he rhymes over horns, trumpets, and more, and his lyrics adapt to the instruments impeccably.
His street-focused subject matter may not have changed…in the first verse, he says: Remember back when? When I got the snow low / I was in and out the state just like promo”, but it MATCHES the beat perfectly.
At times, Jeezy repeats Billy Paul’s lyrics, which speak about a recession and the need for the dollar to circulate. The result makes for an incredibly standout song on a cohesive and captivating project.
He also seems to be still quite concerned with his role as an OG drug dealer, offering advice like: I’ll tell you what, this is what I’ll tell you, when shit get rough, no telling what they’ll sell you. This is easily one of my personal Jeezy songs of all time.
Jeezy might be known for the fact that he can “motivate” the thugs and hustlers of the world, and I still firmly believe that “Get Right” never really got the respect that it deserved. The song was released in 2012 as a single, but it appeared on the mixtape “It’s Tha World” rather than any official project. The song might have a nightclub-friendly chorus, but Jeezy speaks on some deeper issues than you may realize.
For those who don’t know, Jeezy had a falling out with Blue Davinci around this time (Davinci was a rapper associated with BMF). Some beats simply sound perfect for Jeezy, and I don’t know if it’s the piano, the drums, or the synths — but this instrumental literally seems like it was created for him. The harmonizing on the chorus is catchy, but the gems here are in the Jeezy verses.
Here, Jeezy complains about friends switching up while also making his stance clear regarding Bleu: Hood nigga, yeah, and I’m living major / Whole fucking hood know I made ya / Whole fucking block know I saved ya / Your own fucking folks know I raised ya.” He switches up his flow in his second verse and makes it clear that he feels like Bleu Davinci was snitching: Acting ass nigga, give him three strikes / heard he rapped to the judge, gave him three mics.”
It’s important to remember that Jeezy is taking shots at a BMF rapper, which isn’t a small matter. This is an organization that made over a quarter billion dollars during its time on the streets. This song also came out in 2012, during a time where many felt like Jeezy’s flow was outdated, and his career was slowing.
Jeezy stood his ground, and it appears as though his statements have aged quite well. For those that don’t know, J Diggs put out a song with further details. He elaborates on how Jeezy signing to Def Jam caused tension between Big Meech and Jeezy. However, he also confirms that now Big Meech considers Bleu Davinci to be a “rat” (or a government informant, for those who don’t know).
Many praised how Jeezy handled the situation, as he never took to social media or interviews to elaborate on any tension…but “Get Right” was the only real response needed.
Of course, the beauty of “Get Right” is that this is a great song even if you didn’t know about the street beef. It’s the kind of song that you might play when you’re pregaming at your apartment, riding down the highway, or just get motivated in general. The song has also aged well, as his take on the situation was proven correct.
Jeezy also doesn’t advertise that he’s a Crip in the same way that others do, which is a testament to the admirable low-key way that he carries himself. On “Get Right”, he has no problem making his affiliations known, traveling back to Macon and filming the following:
If you are asked to speak about Jeezy’s best songs, many people would name “Go Crazy.” However, I STILL feel like the song is underrated. It may have been a single on Jeezy’s first album (arguably a classic), and you can hear this song EVERYWHERE in NYC at the time (I was there) — but it remains underappreciated in my humble opinion.
I would also point out that this isn’t just one of Jeezy’s best songs on the album — AND it’s not just one of his best songs. It also arguably features one of Jay-Z’s best guest verses of all time. No, I am not exaggerating.
When it comes to rapping about drug dealing, both Jeezy and Jay-Z are two of the best of all time. When they decide to do it over an incredible Curtis Mayfield sample, it ends up creating an incredibly uplifting and beautiful song that has aged INCREDIBLY over the years. There are very few songs from 2005 that STILL sound this good.
There’s a lot to unpack here, but Jeezy interpolates some Jay-Z lyrics when he begins the song, which is a creative way to pay homage to Hov before he shows up. Jeezy holds his own and doesn’t mind switching up his flow here — and the simple wordplay over the instruments sound truly incredible: I’m emotional, I hug the block / I’m so emotional, I love my glock / Cash rules everything around me, so what’s realer? / For the scrilla, call me a Ghostface Killah.”
Jeezy’s chorus is one of the best drug dealer rap choruses in history. He triumphantly declares that the “dope boys go crazy” when they play that new Jeezy. Jeezy has always been known for his hooks, but there’s something about this one that is more special.
The second verse offers more simple lines that work better because he doesn’t mind changing cadences…The streets is watching / The name is warm…The product’s white / a star is born.”
Jay-Z, as mentioned before, delivers one of his best guest verses ever, with mind-blowing lines like:
More than a street legend, homie, it’s Hova
More than a relief pitcher, I’m “the closer”
The Mariano of the Marriot, ah,
If money talks the whole world ’bout to hear me out….”
It’s not surprising to find that Jay-Z gave Jeezy many more bars than the average verse, which is a testament to the fact that they will become frequent collaborators. Hov even takes the opportunity to set the record straight regarding just how much of a trendsetter he is, taking friendly shots at P.Diddy:
Don’t follow me young’n, follow my moves, I’m not a role model
A bad influence got the world drinking gold bottles
When puff was in that tub spilling Mo’ (Moet)
I was at my video, Cris’ (Cristal) on the speedboat
In my lifetime nigga, go through your research
St. Thomas my nigga, that was me first…
He ends the verse brilliantly with:
They say the truth shall come to the light
But everybody grab your chain because your boy that bright
Some would argue that Jay-Z stole the show here, but this is still easily one of Jeezy’s best songs — and he still is responsible for the majority of the song. This will undoubtedly be played during the Verzuz battle, and it will be interesting to find whether TI will comment on the fact that he once had this beat and freestyled over it.
There are many arguments about legends, and many feel like the term gets thrown around too much. Can a legend exist without a classic album? Can a rapper be a legend if they never went platinum?
While there’s nothing wrong with these debates, it should be noted that Jeezy really has more accolades than many young fans might realize.He has the sales, he has the street credibility in spades, and he was instrumental in helping YG rise to the forefront of rap.
It’s also important to remember that countless rappers were trying to copy Jeezy’s style at the time, as well. Atlanta is now the most crucial city in rap (I don’t think this is that debatable), but a lot of people seem to forget Jeezy’s impact.
They might not remember that schools tried to ban the Snowman shirt, making them more popular. They might not have recognized the power of “Trap Or Die,” which is one of those Jeezy songs that could never be “underrated” due to its impact and influence.
Since I’m from New Orleans, one fact that I will NEVER forget about this man is that he opened up his home to victims of Hurricane Katrina, during a time where he was finally rising to the top. This is also the man who created “My President”, a song dedicated to Barack Obama. He rapped proudly that “My President is black” before the country’s black president took office. He also squashed beef with a legend (Nas) and invited him on the track:
There are many incredible moments in Jeezy’s career, but I hope that this post helped you open your eyes to some songs that might not be appreciated by “Hip-Hop Twitter” or newer fans as much as I would have hoped. I am certainly looking forward to the Verzuz with TI. While I do think that TI might take the win…
Don’t count Jeezy out.
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