A strong case could be made that Jeezy made the “street album” what it is today. They’re those projects that don’t always come sanctioned by the label and typically don’t make it to retail, but they’re filled with original material utilizing the best an artist has to offer. Jeezy, along with DJ Drama, used these kinds of releases as early vehicles to success with 2005’s Trap or Die being one of the most well received mixtapes/street albums since its release and the closest thing to an agreed upon classic from Jeezy’s catalog.
Recently, the purveyor of trap tales sat down with Fader to call off his top five mixtapes/street albums, pointing out the ones he felt had the greatest impact on his career. Obviously, number one was the aforementioned Gangsta Grillz crown jewel, but the other four held considerably high rankings for Jeezy. His newest release, Trap or Die 3, landed at number five. He says, “I had to put that in for the simple fact that I think it sums everything up that I’ve done in that space. It’s not clean or polished but it’s still me and it’s a mixtape that has album qualities.”
In the next two slots is where Trappin Ain’t Dead (2009) and Streets Iz Watchin (2004) both land. He claims that Trappin… was “different than anything [he] ever did” and its content got him a lot of love from people locked up behind bars. Hosted by DJ Drama, Streetz… was one of his earliest releases and almost went by a different name if it weren’t for a name switch late in the game. “It was going to be called G’z Up. I called him at the last minute like ‘Yo, I’m changing it to Streets Iz Watchin’.” Part of the projects allure, he says is because it was filled with choice cuts by producer Jazzy Pha and others that made the songs “instant hood classics.”
The Real Is Back snatches the new two spot because “it did what it was supposed to do,” he says about the project that put him back with DJ Drama in 2011. “It got people talking.”
But, it’s Trap or Die that gets the most praise. “That was my first breakthrough,” he says of the tape. “I remember the grind of paying for beats, paying for studio time, going in there and putting the hard work in, and then turn around giving my mixtapes out to create a buzz. Not knowing that it was going to be part of my legacy.”
Even with all the time and energy invested, Pastor Young says he wasn’t sure how people would react but he takes pride in knowing people still rock with Trap or Die so hard. “Ten, twelve years later, I can still do those songs and people still listen to them as if they came out yesterday so that makes it timeless.”
The selections and rankings seem pretty good and it’s hard to question how an artist chooses to rank his own material. But, if I had my druthers, Can’t Ban The Snowman would have to knock out one of the other five, most likely falling in around no. 2, knocking the other two projects up a notch while Trappin Ain’t Dead would get 86ed with the swiftness. The intro alone was one of the strongest proclamations from the catalog of “Mr. Magic City.” And what about I Am the Street Dream, which hosts the classic cut “Spaceships on Bankhead”?
But, again, this is Jeezy’s list so let the man have his moment.