Jeezy’s tenth studio album is a sleek quarantine-inspired trap; a cruise-worthy ride to the horizon with a hood CEO mindset. It’s equal parts old and new Jeezy, somewhat focused on the current lockdown and awakening of 2020. Often while listening to Recession 2, I’m reminded of Magna Carta Holy Grail and To Pimp a Butterfly. It’s a refined, forward-thinking rap record, laced with soul samples and bold political statements. The raspy bounce of Jezzy’s voice is both urgent and exhausted. He’s spirited enough to enlist Yo Gotti and Ne-Yo for cameos, but old-heady enough to include a track like “Praying Right”. Despite some bloat in the tracklist, this album hits hard from beginning to end. Black power and group prosperity is the mindset, but the execution is often a little messy.
Recession 2 opens with “Oh Lord feat. Tamika Mallory”, which features a looming sample of “Trouble So Hard” by Vera Hall. Flanking Jeezy’s verses between Hall’s sample and Mallory’s prose is a high watermark for the project. The progressive Black political declarations act as a chorus for the thunderous opening track. The trio of vocals not only execute the tape’s overall theme of unity concisely, but help contextualize some of the album’s stronger entries later on. “Modern”, “Da Ghetto” and “Almighty Black Dollar” are Jezzy at his best, recruiting heavyweights like E-40 and Rick Ross to cement the hood’s financial and social intentions. “Burned down Black Wall Street, now it’s time for the getback!” growls Rick Ross on one of the stronger closing tracks of the collection. The beats feel simultaneously gutter and upbeat, never sacrificing edge for the message. Early on, Jeezy laments, “George still dead, Breanna still gone.” without any explanation needed.
Everything is cohesive until about halfway through, where more melodic ideas get thrown into the mix. The production is undeniably solid, just held down by some lackluster hooks. “Therapy For My Soul” addresses beef with various rappers but done so with one of the album’s lesser choruses. Same goes for “Death of Me” and “Reputation”, which don’t fit quite right with the rest of the tracklist. “The Glory feat. Ne-Yo”, is a contagiously nostalgic dance interlude. Jeezy oscillates between casual direction and bleak storytelling, bouncing over a familiar Marvin Gaye sample. “My Reputation feat. Demi Lovato & Lil Duval” is a clunky interpolation of an S.O.S. Band classic, failing to do the original track much justice.
However, Recession 2 is far from maudlin. “Here We Go” proves Jeezy can elevate a simple trap instrumental into something special. “The Kingdom” nearly sounds like a Roots track and is amplified by escalating horns and passages beckoning optimism, “Everybody in that bitch worth six figures / best part is, they ain’t killin no n***as.” It’s progressive, sentimental and just a few tracks too long.