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U.S.D.A.: Young Jeezy Presents U.S.D.A.: Cold Summer

Christopher Catania

Young Jeezy introduces the next harvest from the South with his trio U.S.D.A. Is it government approved? Go to the thugz seminar and find out.


Young Jeezy Presents U.S.D.A.: Cold Summer

Subtitle: The Authorized Mixtape
Label: Def Jam
US Release Date: 2007-05-22
UK Release Date: 2007-06-11

Even before his 2005 breakthrough, Young Jeezy flexed his muscles as a Southern business man, producer, and rapper. And now his motivational inspirations have infiltrated all three areas as he brings the other two thirds of U.S.D.A. with him for the mixtape thug motivational seminar, Young Jeezy Presents U.S.D.A: Cold Summer.

Young Jeezy dropped his major label debut, Let's Get It: Thug Motivation 101, in 2005 and followed up with the sophomore release The Inspiration: Thug Motivation 102 in December of 2006. But with this mixtape, the inspiration and the motivation are combined, and although the massive bottomless beats and synthesized soul rhythms aren’t really anything new, the most interesting thing about this mixtape is hearing how much effort Jeezy exudes toward the explicit and sincere motivation of his thug peers.

Beyond the club-banging tracks, it’s in this motivational context that Young Jeezy's often dry and blatant lyrics and epic anthems make a lot more sense, making him stand out among the other Southern rappers. Having a clear picture of his audience in mind helps you to understand that Young Jeezy understands that the rap game is a business and when he says in the liner notes that, “at the end of the day red and blue make green so let go get it!!,”, he really means it.

Young Jeezy began as a producer before moving to center stage as a rapper. Now he's introducing two of his protégés, the other two thirds of U.S.D.A. (United Streets of Dope boys of America): Florida-native Blood Raw and fellow 4th Warder Renaldo Whitman (aka Slick Pulla). Blood Raw, who’s also known as “Mr. Florida,” is an ex-con who, like Slick Pulla, has two previous underground mixtapes circulating in the South. Both are due to drop debut albums later this year,, hence the arrival of the mixtape. Both have a flow that resembles Jeezy’s raspy, slow and dramatized delivery which makes it hard at times to figure out who is who but you know Jeezy’s gravelly drawl when you hear it. Slick Pulla raps just like the moniker suggests, with deliberate and slippery rhymes that slide right over the constant synth stream that runs like a thick rope through the mixtape. Blood Raw shows promise with vulnerable moments where he opens up about his time in prison and then reflects on how, and if, his son will be able to overcome and avoid the hell he saw while locked up in the Florida Department of Corrections for six years.

The South is flooded with drug-dealers-turned-rappers like Young Jeezy, but what makes him stand out is how he takes the motivational element to a very personal level and manages to create an element of Tony Robbins meets Hustle and Flow inspiration. The titles of his last two albums are obvious. But when the music fades and bleeds into itself, it’s the thug motivational context that makes this mixtape worth at least a moment of your time.

So let’s take the concept a bit further and mix the fictional with the motivational thug rap and take a brief tour through the Authorized Mixtape as if it were a motivational seminar put on by all three members of U.S.D.A. at a local Atlanta conference hall full of eager rap entrepreneurs.

Young Jeezy, Slick Pulla, and Blood Raw swagger into the conference hall. The sound guy hits play. It’s the first track, “Focus”. The epic synth and horns blast through the speakers. All the commercial rap pupils start bobbing their heads. Young Jeezy starts rapping about how he’s not going to let critics or other rappers take his focus off the prize which, he makes explicitly clear to the gathered is the MONEY. The song trails off. The sound guy skips over the less inspiring “White Girl” to get to track three, “Get it Up”. It’s more thug motivation, more epic synth and street-smart rhyming. The crowd of rap students start yelling back “Hell yeahs!” Now Young Jeezy and his two protégés have the pupils in the palm of their hand. Young Jeezy smiles. It’s time for track four, “Check”, where he runs down the grocery list on all a thug needs to get where he is today. Slick Pulla and Blood Raw yell “check!” after each item. Now it’s time for a quick lesson on how to meander the corporate rap ghetto with “Corporate Thuggin’”.

Jeezy realizes this is a good moment to let it loose so he gives way to Slick Pulla, who leads the way through three tracks that cover the necessary elements of a sub-genre of Thug Motivation -- which is Motivational Misogyny -- with “Throw This Money”, “Pam”, and “Quickie”. All the songs are mega hits and induce the masses to litter the stage with cold cash at the feet of the trio. Every student is looking around for an actual stripper or the real Pam to have a quickie with but no one comes in.

Instead, Jeezy regains center stage and moves into the autobiographical moment of the seminar with “Live My Life”, with a little help from Scar, and then digs deep with “I Keep Telling Myself”.

Slick Pulla and Blood Raw emerge from the crowd and rejoin the Teacher at the head of the class for the club-thumping anthem “Respect Da Shield”.

Finally, it’s a remix of the chart topper “Go Getta”, enhanced by three special guests: R. Kelly, Jadakiss, and Bun B. Some look around for Akon, but he’s nowhere to be found at this seminar.

Well, that’s one unauthorized way to look at this Authorized Mixtape and believe me, it’s a perspective that really makes the show much more enjoyable than just listening to it and having to compete with Kanye West’s mixtape that also dropped at the end of May. U.S.D.A can use all the inspiration and motivation they can get.


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