“I was a boy in the ‘hood before I ever knew Puffy, bitch,” spits Young Jeezy right from the jump-off on his latest pre-TM:103 hype-stoking mixtape “The Real Is Back 2.” The boast is Jeezy in capsule form: The content in his raps still hails from the trap, but now he spits his stories of slangin’ from a superstar status. But while your favorite trapper’s most favored rapper’s upcoming Def Jam project will call on a bigger budget and bring in his new A-list rap pals, the 11-track short “Real Is Back 2” sounds like Jeezy distilled down to his dopest best. From the brooding opener “Trump” with its talk of “niggas pulling home invasions” to the marginally more introspective closer, “Real Nigga Anthem,” the mixtape unravels as a concentrated blast of Jeezy’s street sermons layered over productions patched together from the triple threat of beastly bass-lines, searing snares, and sinister synth lines. At under 45 minutes, it’s an undeniable ride.
Beyond “The Real Is Back 2’s” buzz-building function though, it also introduces the subplot of Freddie Gibbs’ role in the CTE empire. Granted verse time on a quartet of tracks, the blend of Gibbs and Jeezy works stylistically, with the Gary gangsta’s fleeter flow often flipping into double time and embellishing Jeezy’s economic and guttural voice to smart effect. But too often Gibbs still sounds like a rapper yet to find the voice he’s comfortable with. As singular in subject matter as Jeezy’s trap raps can be, he always sounds like he believes what he’s spitting, even when he’s one-upping Kanye by claiming to use “Louis Vuitton toilet paper.” In his new mentor’s shadow though, Gibbs still veers between wanting to establish himself as a new generation Scarface who pens nuanced gangsta narratives and going with his baser, street-centered instincts. His contributions here don’t offer a solution, but at least rolling with CTE will give Gibbs the benefit of a consistent production sound.
But Gibbs is just the secondary story here, and “The Real Is Back 2” comfortably underscores the strength of Jeezy’s all platinum rap formula. The only drawback? Someone’s yet to invent an app to surgically remove DJ Drama’s voice from mixtapes.
DX Consensus: “EP-worthy”
Listen to Young Jeezy The Real Is Back 2