Jeezy’s new album, I Might Forgive… But I Don’t Forget, probably isn’t the best introduction to his work for the uninitiated.
The sprawling double album is 29 tracks long, has zero features, and serves to cement the artist’s legacy as one of trap’s most important innovators. There are references to early moments in his career, his struggles amidst his rise, and the world he built since first skyrocketing to rap stardom with 2005’s Let’s Get It: Thug Motivation 101.
Jeezy was almost a preordained star by the time he linked up with Def Jam for that first LP. His debut landed at No.2 on the Billboard 200, and his following LPs through 2019’s TM104: The Legend of the Snowman landed at No.1, No.1, No.3, No.2, No.4, No.1, No.6, and No.4, respectively.
He is for the people, and remains that same figure on I Might Forgive. Jeezy reckons with success, celebrating his wins while occasionally wondering why after all these triumphs he’s still left wanting more.
The thing that’s often overlooked about Jeezy is that even when he’s dealing with weighty topics or past traumas, he’s still funny as hell. Despite the turbulence that may impact his rhymes, he’s still looking for a bar that’ll make you cackle, or a moment that’ll get the whole club rapping along.
On “I Might Forgive,” which kicks off the album with typical Jeezy fare—menacing synths and MIDI orchestral arrangements—Jeezy scoffs at the haters who say his career is over. He refuses to whore himself out in return for another radio single, because his best hits build from the streets and force radio’s hand, not the other way around. On the cut, Jeezy still finds time to showcase some of his offbeat charm, rapping, “First of all, I’m too motherfuckin’ rich, so who y’all playin’ with?/ Y’all just like to hear yourself talk, y’all just be sayin’ shit (Damn) Wagyu with the truffle sauce, I just be tryin’ shit/ Hundred acres duplexes n***a, I just be buyin’ shit.” Only in Jeezy’s world is the concept of ordering world class steak random.
On the meditative “This too Shall Pass,” producers Ricky Polo and Joe Stanley cook up a comparatively minimal beat, but around weepy strings and an intoxicating, wraith-like vocal sample. Jeezy tells the story of getting raided by the feds, and shares it with such clarity and detail that it sounds like the whole thing went down yesterday. Jeezy remains an elite narrative force, able to weave tales and paint epic pictures whenever he feels the desire to do so. On “This too” he raps, “And I ain’t hear, ‘Hut one, hut two, hut three,’ swear to god them bitches just blitzed/ The DEA and the task, ‘Need a search warrant,’ my ass/ Had a hundred sixty thousand in the armrest/ Yeah, them dirty motherfuckers took my last.” The bars hit especially hard as Jeezy introduces the chorus, which finds him recalling, “You ever went to sleep with no cash?’ You ever woke up with no bag?/ Walk around, lookin’ all mad?/ Tell ’em this too shall pass.”
On I Might Forgive, Jeezy is gifting his devoted fan base with a massive look into all facets of his life, from early day trapping to where he’s out now: forgiving but not forgetting, taking stock of the blessings but never forgetting where he came from. It’s a satisfying listen, but it’s way too long, making the weaker songs stand out.
“Don’t Cheat” confirms that Jeezy should never make horny R&B songs, and “Everything About Me is True” finds Jeezy repeating themes that occur throughout the album but the chorus conjures up images of a somehow cornier version of Gary Glitter’s “Rock and Roll.”
The album is a behemoth, and it’s not entirely sure what statement Jeezy is making with almost 30 tracks aside from the fact that he’s now independent and can do whatever he wants, but mid Jeezy still has plenty of peaks.