Young Jeezy

The Inspiration: Thug Motivation 102

Young Jeezy isn't a lyricist or a technician who impresses critics with his dense wordplay. He's a larger-than-life personality, the kind of swaggering intimidator who forces you to love him or hate him. On The Inspiration, you can visualize him in the studio, hollering along to the beat. Are you going to tell him to shut up?

A blue-ribbon array of producers — from local hitter Shawty Red to industry legend Timbaland — joins Young Jeezy on this effort, and each is careful to accent his blustery timbre with heavy keyboard lines and a heightened sense of drama. The entire album rumbles loudly like Dolby Digital Sound and unfolds with the perverse self-righteousness of a Jerry Bruckheimer flick. Now that the "crack rap" movement — a bizarre hip-hop phenomenon that celebrates rappers for their monomaniacal focus on drug-dealing anthems — is in full swing, Jeezy no longer has to apologize for his snowman persona.

Not that he would, anyway. "That d-boy bullshit, yeah I'm still on it," he raps on "Still On It." Then, to court sympathy, he offers "Dreamin'," a growing-up-in-the-hood fable where he rhymes, "Mom smokin' rocks, same shit I'm selling/So who's wrong, her or me/She addicted to the high, I'm addicted to the cash/I almost put my hands on her when I caught her in my stash." As the last action hero of this aural shoot 'em-up, Jeezy doesn't care about acceptance. As he says on "Keep It Gangsta," "I keep it gangsta and they love that shit." 3 stars.