Nine years ago, the world was introduced to a rapper who would later be referred to as the godfather of trap music. That rapper is [the no longer young] Jeezy, a 36-year-old Atlanta t-r-a-p-s-t-a-r who paved the way for the sub-genre to enter the mainstream. Whether you love him or hate him, there’s no denying the fact that he’s one of the realest, most consistent artists in his lane.
That said, there have been many non-believers over the past couple of years who claim Jeezy “fell off” or “doesn’t have it any more.” With his 7th studio album (5th if you exclude posse releases from Boyz N Da Hood and USDA) Seen It All, the Snowman hopes to prove the critics wrong and follow-up his 2011 album TM103 with another street classic. Does he achieve this? Is it possible to top the infamous album The Recession? Begin reading our track-by-track review below for the answers.
1. “¼ Block”
Intros have always been one of the high points of Jeezy’s career, and when it comes to the first track, fans of Jeezy have grown to anticipate the hell out of it. Whether it’s a mixtape or an album, Jeezy has demonstrated EXACTLY how to set the mood for a project and does it with great precision.
Seen It All‘s intro is ¼ Block, a song that, as expected, sets the mood for exactly what you can expect to hear from the project. Now, that statement may come across as a negative because of repetition, but that’s definitely not the case here. Jeezy gets an insane beat from Childish Major and begins his autobiography as a kid who grew up selling drugs for a living. Jeezy reminisces back on his early teen years when he started out with just a quarter block (of cocaine) and fantasized about getting rich and owning a Benz, as mentioned in the line “All the while fantasizing, visualizing, comin’ through in a Benz with a dimepiece.” He hustled day in and day out by dealing on the corner, hoping to one day get rich enough to get out of the hood. The menacing, gritty song defines real street music, and all you hustlers out there will definitely be playing this for years to come. Even if you don’t consider yourself a hustler, I’d recommend giving this one a listen.
2. “What You Say”
With Childish Major on the beat once again, Jeezy wants to put this exact thought into your head: I’M STILL THE KING OF THE BLOCK! He may be 36 years old and 10+ years into this rap game but nothing has changed in terms of his music and raw storytelling. With Jizzle flexing harder than ever, What You Say is one of those songs that can perfectly describe Jeezy as an artist in just 3 minutes. It’s also one of those songs that will fit in with any Jeezy project due to its dynamic structure.
3. “Black Eskimo”
An early favorite to many was Black Eskimo, the third track on the Seen It All LP. The 808-heavy song is undesirably short, clocking in at just 2 minutes, and is debatably comparable to Jay Z’s Beach Is Better. Carrying along the same topic as the previous track, Jeezy introduces the listener to his newly-acclaimed alter-ego, the Black Eskimo. This so-called “black eskimo” guy is compared to a “god” and also to “MJ.” Boastful as all hell, Jeezy makes it known that he’s an elite artist in this game and that he’s purchased almost anything you dream about. Lines like: “Had them coming to Atlanta for the Hawks/Had the ticket, was the man in the city/Had the city so motherfuckin hot/Damn near bought a fan for my city” demonstrates that the Black Eskimo knows exactly what type of buzz he’s been generating for over 10 years.
One of my personal favorites from this album is Enough, a vintage-sounding go-getter anthem that serves up pure motivation on a platter. The instrumental and song structure are very reminiscent of the TM101/Trap Or Die days, which is undoubtedly a plus in this case. Whether you’re in the streets selling drugs like Jeezy did, or sitting in front of the TV all day, Enough should have some sort of impact on the way you view life. For Jeezy, the way he got out of the hood was by selling drugs and grinding his ass off! With this song, Jeezy motivates you. Not to sell drugs, but rather to go out there and work hard for what YOU want. If that means never sleeping for more than 4 hours, then do it! This song struck a deep chord with me and helped get my mind back on track with what I want to do in life. Let this song be fuel for you to go chase your dreams. Pure motivation music.
5. “Holy Ghost”
Ah, Holy Ghost, a dark, introspective record that is produced by one of Jeezy’s go-to producers, Don Cannon. This is the part of the album where the story built with the previous 4 tracks begins to fully focus and take shape. After previously telling us about grinding hard and making millions, Jeezy has now found himself thinking he (or his former partner Freddie Gibbs) has the world figured out on Holy Ghost.
The song puts you in the shoes of Jeezy as he’s in the back of a Rolls-Royce, just sitting back, stressed, thinking about life. Telling the chauffeur “Anywhere but here,” Jeezy stresses the fact that he has a lot on his mind and just wants to get away from it all. The opening lines also signify the fact that he can afford such fancy commodities. Many people would like to have the life of a celebrity but not many people realize that it’s not nearly as good as you may think – and that’s what Jeezy pens in Holy Ghost. Transitioning from the streets to the music/entertainment business is a bold move because he realizes that old partners will never look at him the same. The lines “Trade ’em all for my dawgs, yea, I’m talkin’ to you/Where did we go wrong? Because I don’t have a clue” are debatably aimed at Jeezy’s former partner and CTE signee Freddie Gibbs. Continuing, Jeezy shows sympathy for one of his former partners in the lines: “So I regret the day you ever serve that nigga/Took 5 years of your life, you didn’t deserve that nigga/I guess power and pain look it’s somewhat the same/I lost my dawg to the fame, I charge it all to the game.” Jeezy just wants to recline in his Rolls-Royce Ghost and get away from the world for a little while. Understandable.
6. “Me OK”
After getting emotional and sympathetic in the previous track, Jeezy quickly jumps back up and let’s you know, “Me OK.” Known for coining the phrase “trap or die,” Jeezy oh so boastfully raps aloud in the bass-heavy Drumma boy-produced single Me OK. Initially being released as a street single, Jeezy’s Me OK quickly turned into a fan-favorite and smartly enough, his team decided to include it on the standard version of the Seen It All LP. The lines “Two door Rolls is how I’m rollin’, plus you know a nigga totin’/Keep that street nigga paper, rubber band it, it ain’t foldin’/First the XXL, read about me in the Forbes/That’s a long way from trappin’ in that 4-door Accord” perfectly portrays how far he’s come.This is one of my favorite Jeezy songs of the past 3 years, due to its grittiness and tremendous replay value.
7. “4 Zones”
Confused. That’s the first word that came to mind on my first listen of 4 Zones and to be honest, I didn’t like it too much. The reason being is…auto-tune. If you’re not familiar with Jeezy, this may not be odd for you, but to you guys who’ve been listening to him for a while know that he never uses auto-tune. Let me tell you something, this song is a grower! After playing the record back a few times, I found myself liking this song more and more. With Mike Will Made It providing the incredible backdrop, Jeezy kicks the song off with a quick flanged intro and then wastes no time with diving into the auto-tune-heavy hook, which is contagiously catchy. With that being said, I don’t think the song, overall, would be nearly as good if Mike Will didn’t supply the cinematic, unworldly-sounding beat. This is that one song on an album that seems different, yet better than the rest. You have to at least respect the risk the Black Eskimo took on this one. Easily a top 3 song on the album and my personal favorite behind the title track. This is one of those songs from an album that you’ll still be excited to hear 3+ years later.
8. “Been Getting Money” (feat. Akon)
By now, Jeezy has graduated from the block and recruits Akon to help tell the money-making tale in Been Getting Money. Perhaps one of the most anticipated songs from the album, mainly due to the classic single Soul Survivor, fell way short of expectations due to an outdated structure. Even though Akon can still sing like he’s in his prime, the lyrics and sound just don’t seem modern any more. Even though Akon has the ability to make anything somewhat catchy, the lyrics on the hook are stale. This is a song I’ve tried getting into but just can’t.
9. “Fuck The World” (feat. August Alsina)
After getting money for years, Jeezy continues the autobiography with Fuck The World, an ode to that special lady. With Def Jam label-mate August Alsina singing the melodic hook, the deep, slow-pace of the song creates great diversity for the album. The unique, guitar-infused instrumental sets a great backdrop for the tempo change in the hook and verses. However, with the amazing voice of Mr. Alsina, I wanted more. Now, I know that a falsetto hook would not fit well with the rest of the album but I at least wanted something showing more than a faint whisper. Sadly, this track looked a lot better on paper and is one of those songs that you have to be in a certain mood to listen to. If you just listened to 4 Zones or Enough, chances are, you will quickly skip Fuck The World. The Alsina hook is decent, nothing amazing, but definitely gets the theme of the song across in a very straight-forward manner.
10. “Seen It All” (feat. Jay Z)
With Cardo laying down the pavement, Jeezy’s Seen It All title track is everything you can ever want from a hip-hop song. Jeezy and Jay Z have build quite the chemistry since first working with each other on Go Crazy back in 2005, and it definitely shows in this record. Sharing a hook together, the two OG’s rap about everything they’ve seen in this rap game over the past 10+ years. Hov’s verse on this record is amazing – one of his best in recent memory. Jeezy also delivers quality bars on the aggressive, uptempo track. The video game-esque instrumental samples Japanese artist Toyoshima Tazumi and is an amazing approach in turn with the song’s overall structure. Is it too early to call this song a classic? Not in my mind. This is a classic song.
11. “Win Is A Win”
At only 1:30 in length, Jeezy spits emotionally over the incredible, laid-back instrumental that was crafted by Black Metaphor. Opening up with the retrospective lines, “I hope my words they inspire ya, spoke like a true leader/The first to admit life’s more than two seaters/Man oh man how my priorities fucked up/Remember nights I’m passin’ out in the Rari, too fucked up,” show that raw, emotional storytelling that Jeezy is so good at. The closing line, “Live real or die tryin’ is still a victory nigga,” is powerful and Jeezy decides to let the beat ride out.
12. “Beautiful” (feat. Game & Rick Ross)
Besides the overused sample used in this instrumental, the song itself is not too bad. With Black Metaphor on the beat once again, Jeezy, Game and Rick Ross tell the tales of their lavish lifestyle in Beautiful. Although the lyrics are nothing special, the instrumental and song structure are dope and will create vivid imagery in your head. The hook is nothing special and the song lacks replay value. Again, this is one of those songs you have to be in a certain mood to tolerate.
13. “Beez Like” (feat. Lil Boosie)
A harmonizing, emotional, uptempo Jeezy song is always appreciated in a pool full of grind-hard trap music – in the name of diversity. Those three elements above are exactly how I would describe Beez Like, Jeezy’s highly anticipated collaboration with Lil Boosie, who recorded his verse fresh out of jail earlier this year. The Will-A-Fool instrumental used in this track is very different, one that I could never imagine Jeezy rapping over – but it works, and well. The song is all about making it through struggle and hard times, and there’s no better feature here than Boosie. After being in jail for over 5 years, Boosie can tell you what it “Beez Like” missing his daughter’s first period and not being there for the people who need him (his mother). Both rappers have been on one helluva ride called life and this is the track where they can pour it all out. This is an emotional, commercial-sounding song that’s a great sound-change and is a clear standout. [Editorial Note From Matt: This is my favorite song on the album.]
14. “No Tears” (feat. Future)
One of the more powerful songs on the album, No Tears, finds Jeezy and Future reminiscing back on their early years before music. With Mike Will Made It on the beat, the
duo trio who brought us the club banger Way Too Gone, decide to take a completely different route, and it works. After a rather disappointing album in Honest, Future picks it back up with a smooth hook that infuses emotion into the themes of losing friends and having non-believers, but still moving on without crying (metaphorically). The song itself was originally released in visual form and, to be honest, that was a GREAT move. The music video takes place in the slums of the Virgin Islands and the scenery gives you a real, eye-opening feel to the meaning and emotion behind the song. Another different sound for Jeezy and it just goes to show how diverse this LP really is.
15. “How I Did It (Perfection)”
Known for mastering the intro, it seems that Jeezy has also mastered the art of book-ending an album with a great closer. How I Did It (Perfection) is an outro track that will paint vivid images in your head while riding out on a late Friday night. It’s a track that displays street music at its finest. It’s a track that, again, touches on the same subject matter but with a new approach. The meaning behind the song is that Jeezy has done everything in his life/career with sheer perfection.
Overall, Jeezy’s Seen It All is everything a fan could ever want from an album at this point in his career. He’s been rapping about selling drugs for over 10 years but still finds a way to layer the songs and lyrics in new, outlandish fashion that prevents staleness. The production on this LP is nothing short of impeccable. With producers ranging from Mike Will Made It, to Black Metaphor, to Cardo, the sounds are all fresh and spacey, proving that Jeezy still has a keen ear for great instrumentals. Jeezy has also shown lyrical progression on this album, getting steeper into the storytelling, personal aspect of rap music.
Now, is Seen It All a better album than The Recession? No. Is it better than TM101? VERY close, but no – mainly due to the fact that TM101 was the first mainstream-perceived trap album. Although it’s not quite on par with Jeezy when he was in his prime, Seen It All is an amazingly diverse album that will sit well with rap fans, and in the canon of his discography. The godfather of trap music has blessed the streets with another incredible album that may not be topped by anybody in this lane for years, if at all.
Be sure to let us know your thoughts on the album by leaving a rating and comment below!