On Friday (October 28), Jeezy will release the ninth full-length album of his career, Trap or Die 3. In advance of the album drop, the veteran ATL rapper has unleashed six records, including "Let Em Know," "All There," "Going Crazy" (with French Montana) and "Bout That" (with Lil Wayne), but so far none of them have been able to catch fire.
Will Jeezy's use of the "Trap or Die" title from his mixtape series help to excite non-die-hard fans? Is a return to "Trap or Die" mode Jeezy a smart business decision or a sign of artistic regression? And considering the mixed reviews that met Jeezy's last full-length, Church in These Streets, where has the CTE head honcho gone wrong?
1. Trap or Die was a classic Jeezy mixtape. How do you feel about artists reusing the title of their most popular work for marketing purposes?
Yoh, DJBooth: I hate it. It's hard to get it right the first time, even harder the second. Nostalgia is why we love franchise series, it's something new yet familiar, but more often than not what we anticipate is rarely delivered. Unless your first tape is equivalent to the movie Rush Hour, and your second tape is the caliber of Rush Hour 2, don't make a sequel.
Brendan Varan, DJBooth: Even while I understand this is 100% a marketing trick, it works on me every time. I know I shouldn’t be, but I’m actually more excited for Trap or Die 3 than I would be for the same project but with a different name. Ditto The Documentary 2, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx II, No Ceilings 2…the list goes on. (Note: No Ceilings 2 was terrible.)
Kevin Clark, OKP: A move like this makes be believe Jeezy's fallen into a rut of sorts and is relying on the public acknowledging his past successes. It only helps when the work is good, so I am hoping that Trap or Die 3 makes the same impact as its predecessors.
2. Jeezy's last full-length Church in These Streets was met with mixed reviews and achieved—by Jeezy standards—substandard sales numbers. Where did he go wrong?
Yoh: Jeezy was looking to reinvent, but not completely change what made people adore him. It was risky, I believe his new perspective lacked a new sound. If Church In These Streets went with a more gospel soul and less gutter trap, it would've helped people to see Jeezy as the hood's pastor and not the snowman in new clothes.
Brendan Varan: The singles were so forgettable I had to look them up just now to remember their titles. Wait, I actually really enjoyed “Sweet Life,” though it ranks pretty low on my list of songs I associate Jeezy with. To be honest, I lacked the interest to even make it through the whole album.
Kevin Clark: It seemed as if his brand of trap-rap wasn't the wave at the time, quite frankly. Leading with "God" as opposed to "Seen It All" where hardcore Jeezy fans love hearing him with Jay Z also was a step in the wrong direction. Lastly, on Church in These Streets, he was a bit muted and the bravado wasn't quite there with the adlibs.
3. Given that Jeezy's in a much different place now than he was back in 2005, is a return to the "Trap or Die" motif more a calculated smart business decision, artistic regression or both?
Yoh: Familiarity is comforting in moments of uncertainty. You can lean on it when something new doesn't go quite as planned. I think Trap Or Die is a safe zone, a place where he can revert to his old self, and not worry about not being accepted. It's well-calculated regression if successful, but in failure, it's artistic desperation.
Brendan Varan: It seems like a step back artistically, after Church In These Streets, which seemed like a step towards a wiser, more mature Jeezy. Then again, no one talked about that album and I almost forgot it existed, so it seems like a much smarter business decision to head back to what worked. I don’t think it’s fair for fans to ask artists to go back to their old sound/motifs, but if they go back voluntarily then hey, I’m all for it and I’ll be wearing my Snowman tee like it’s 2005 (even though I just got one for the first time this week).
Kevin Clark: Artistic regression. I would have loved to see Jeezy move forward, maybe talk about the significant street elements that come with being a success as opposed to when he was on the come-up, but that doesn't seem to be the move. If Jeezy could have given us the 21st-century man on these streets with stories that people can grow with and be motivated by then I'd say it was a smart decision. But Trap or Die 3 seems like an attempt by a surefire emcee to capitalize on past successes.
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