Why Thug Motivation 101 Is One Of The Best Hip-Hop Albums of the Last 10 Years

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"I remember nights, I didn't remember nights / I damn near went crazy, had to get it right..." Young Jeezy, "Standing Ovation"


Ten years ago this week, the music world was shook to its very core thanks to a young MC out of Atlanta who rapped not just to represent himself, but to represent every person in the trap that could hear him.

That MC was Jeezy, and his album Thug Motivation 101 changed the way many within the genre of hip-hop looked at the South, and more importantly what it took to make dynamic music.

Track-for-track, TM101 is strikingly different from many other albums that came out in the mid-00's. Though his wordplay was far from mediocre, Jeezy was more concerned with creating powerful records for the streets than writing poetic bars.

Every single that released from the project felt like an event. In terms of production Jeezy didn't only just recruit known heavyweights like Mr. Collipark and Mannie Fresh, but he also recruited up-and-coming musical luminaries like Shawty Redd and Don Cannon.

Perhaps most important about this album, however, was the subject matter. Jeezy's discussion of the trap (a Southern term for ghetto) is vividly candid. The trap is known as such because many believe the inner city is a "trap" by the government to entrap young, impoverished minorities and exploit them.

On tracks like "Soul Survivor," Jeezy talks about the U.S. government's haphazard activity in the slums ("First they give us the work / Then they put us in jail") and his efforts to avoid them as he fights for his own survival and those dear to him.

By the end of this album, Jeezy makes it abundantly clear that no matter what your profession or occupation, give it everything you can and keep striving, no matter what obstacles are placed in front of you.