Requiem for a Genre?
Chuck D. once called rap the black CNN, but demand for intelligent hip-hop — as with demand for the news channel — seems way down. Are consumers seeking the equivalent of the Outdoor Life Network gone picture-in-picture with Spike TV, hunter/gatherers championing firepower and horsepower? Let’s Get It: Thug Motivation 101, from Boyz N da Hood frontman Young Jeezy, appears to be the breakout hit of such a mad season.Finding positives on Let’s Get It is needle-in-haystack territory. At best, common gangsta rap misogyny is largely absent. Young Jeezy concentrates instead on the lost-comrade rant “Talk to ‘Em” and a painfully silly narcotics vocabulary (“Residential shit / Call it George Bush,” from “Get Ya Mind Right,” being a typical example).
Otherwise, this album exemplifies long-standing issues with the genre. From its oh-so-1987 glorification of the drug trade, to lyrics full of “hey” and “yeah,” to the chorus of “Trap Star” — with a spelling-out of the title that somehow omits the second “A” — Let’s Get It is deplorably stupid.
What’s stunning is that more engaging sounds might have made this not so off-putting. Yet many tracks have a martial feel to them recalling Laibach more than Juvenile. There’s also Young Jeezy’s deliberate cadence, one that disses the music’s street-corner origins. Throughout the album it sounds like he’s freestyling. Very slowly. So you can’t tell. If he makes. A mistake.
Don’t expect critical smears to change Young Jeezy’s ways. He claims unabashed pride in motivating thugs through “Gangster Music,” “‘Cause I’m a real nigga / and I don’t like rappers.” An attitude like that could get an art form killed one of these days.