Young Jeezy — Thug Motivation 103: Hustlerz Ambition Album Review (Track-By-Track) by Jay Fingers

By Jay Fingers

When Young Jeezy first got into the hip-hop game, he sought to education a nation of thugs via a syllabus of his own design. The first lesson was 2005’s classic Let’s Get It: Thug Motivation 101 and was swiftly followed the next year by The Inspiration (also known as Thug Motivation 102). Thought the Snowman departed from his lesson plan when The Recession came around, but now he’s back with a new album, Thug Motivation 103: Hustlerz Ambition. Is it ambitious enough to keep Jeezy’s thug following motivated and inspired?

1. “Waiting” – C

“Sorry for the wait” is basically what Jeezy’s saying on the album’s intro. If this is any indication of what’s to come, however, perhaps a bit more time in the studio would’ve done some good. Though it would like to be, this song is nowhere near as anthemic as TM101’s title track. Jeezy’s layered hook and Lil Lody’s anemic production fails to excite.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PaUWoBBoOpg]

2. “What I Do (Just Like That)” – C

Jeezy spits self-aggrandizing lyrics over horror movie pianos and whiny synths. Again, Lil Lody is responsible for the beat. This is the type of production DJ Paul and Juicy J could do in their sleep, and with much more thump and flair.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LsrtkIJ6yfo]

3. “OJ” (featuring Fabolous and Jadakiss) – C

Cocaine punchline rap. There’s nothing here you haven’t heard before. While coke rap can be entertaining, and even artful when done well, this track is rather lame, with limp references to the infamous O.J. Simpson murder case: “killin’ that white bitch,” “the best to ever do it and get away with it,” and “the gloves don’t fit him so they gotta acquit him.” All three have done better than this.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RiHgi2jDmbo]

4. “Nothing” – C-

What is Jeezy rhyming about in this song? Absolutely nothing. The beat, while generic, does have some “get up and go.”

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VW_SDyMnewU]

5. “Way Too Gone” (featuring Future) – C+

Everything about this song screams “Young Money,” from the Noah “40” Shebib-ish beat, with its muted textures and atmospheric vibe, to the no-name guest star doing a pretty bad Lil Wayne impression. Sorry, Future, but unless you switch your style up, you won’t have a future in the rap game.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SanvfT831u0]

6. “Supafreak” (featuring 2 Chainz) – C-

What better way to celebrate your success as a street pharmacist than to get high, get drunk, and find a promiscuous partner for the evening? Unfortunately, this uninspired song is about as titillating as a drunken rant from Kat Stacks. Then again, that may be your thing. Guest rapper 2 Chainz adds nothing memorable to the proceedings.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AlH7OofL5_k]

7. “All We Do” – B

Here, Jizzle simply praises his main chick. Rest assured, given its subject matter, the song is quite gutter; the smoothed out production, courtesy of Midnight Black, makes this one a winner. It’s funny that Jeezy has cemented his status as one of the genre’s premiere trap rappers but actually fares better when he tries different things, such as this song which he jokingly calls “love making music.”

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dh0LrSgrq6s]

8. “Leave You Alone” (featuring Ne-Yo) – B+

Back to back love anthems on a Jeezy album? Quelle surprise! With R&B crooner Ne-Yo on the hook, Jeezy comes strong with the type of track that was, at one point in time, de rigueur for hip-hop albums. The gothic piano chords from Warren G add a touch of menace, just enough to remind you that this playalistic song is about a thug and his bad chick. If this one doesn’t find its way to radio, something is clearly wrong.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BBmHoghSKoM]

9. “Everythang” – C+

Jeezy used to have nothing. Now, thanks to the rap game, he has everything he desires. The track aspires to be inspirational but falls short of its goal. Lil Lody is back on the boards for this one.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u2fxcjCxX5c]

10. “Trapped” (featuring Jill Scott) – B+

An interesting collaboration, the first song from production squad J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League. Jill Scott takes lead on the song with a spoken word intro; she also takes command of the hook. While the subject matter isn’t anything new, what raises this song above your standard “ghetto’s got us trapped but we still gon’ make it” anthem is the contrast between Jeezy’s gravelly drawl and Jill’s buttery vocals.

11. “F.A.M.E.” (featuring T.I.) – A-

J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League blesses Jeezy with another winner, this time a collaboration with fellow ATL trapper T.I. The song’s title is an acronym for “Fake Ass Motherf***ers Envy,” and is an aural middle finger to all his detractors. The song also marked Tip’s first appearance on wax after his second prison stint and he sounds both remorseful and rejuvenated. It’s the T.I. that was sorely missing on No Mercy. Of note, “F.A.M.E.” samples the trance-music classic “Air for Life” by Above & Beyond.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Kz0V2_xmv4]

12. “I Do” (featuring Jay-Z and Andre 3000) – A-

We get it. You’re married to the game. But such unholy matrimony hasn’t sounded this dope since Outkast and UGK recited their wedding vows on “International Players Anthem.” Speaking of Outkast, Three Stacks delivers a stellar verse, which is fitting since rumors abound that it was originally a song for his debut solo. Jay-Z also comes strong, as per usual, and Jeezy excels with his opening verse. The soul-drenched production from M16 utilizes sped-up vocals, horns, and xxx drums to great effect.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VWiwU1RVcLU]

13. “Higher Learnin’” (featuring Snoop Dogg, Devin the Dude, and Mitchelle’l) – B

A funky, laid-back weed anthem. While both Jeezy and Big Snoop Dogg fare well, this track belongs to The Dude, who makes being in need of herb sound as poetic as Solomon’s songs.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iv3e5uGOnB4]

14. “This One’s For You” (featuring Trick Daddy) – B-

This is almost a sequel to “F.A.M.E.,” albeit a bit more hardcore and direct. Jeezy and T-Double-D unleash a torrent of venomous verses upon their haters, enemies, and critic. Trick Daddy particularly seems ticked off, and it’s great to hear the Mayor of Miami come so strong on this track. Surprisingly, Lil Lody handle the production and managed not to botch it up.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=–UYwqvDdmg]

15. “.38” (featuring Freddie Gibbs) – B

Jizzle hooks up with Gangsta Gibbs for a bit of anger management, thug style. Once again, Lil Lody surprises on the beat, but this song works mostly because of Jeezy and Gibbs’ gangsterisms.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ceh3T8j5VpM]

Overall Grade: B-

Our Favorite Tracks: “Leave You Alone,” “F.A.M.E.,” “I Do,” “Higher Learnin’”

Our Recommendation: DOWNLOAD A FEW TRACKS

The main problem with TM103 isn’t a lack of charisma or vocal gimmickry, two things Jeezy has always relied on to satiate his fanbase. It’s that upstart producer Lil Lody handled the majority of the album’s production. Lody, a Memphis native, may be a competent producer but his unapologetic aping of seasoned beatsmiths Lex Luger and Shawty Redd reveals he’s yet to develop his own sound. That hurt TM103’s chances of being a better album. Once other producers, such as Warren G, M16, and J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League figured into the mix, Jeezy was able to craft songs that were enjoyable, memorable, and sometimes emotional.

Only about half the album, the latter half, is worth listening to more than once. If Jeezy opts to work with the right collaborators on the next project, perhaps he’ll find the motivation to make another street classic.

What are your thoughts on Young Jeezy – Thug Motivation 103?

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