Back at a Def Jam listening party for the second time in less than a week (we do it for the raps, not the pulled pork and Hennessy, swears…) Team FADER was treated to a run through of The Inspiration: Thug Motivation 102 hosted by Jeezy himself (with a guest spot from LA Reid, no less!).
As BET videos – and later, Leprechaun In The Hood – played in the background with the sound off (they needed the screen to show us a “mini-movie” for Inspiration standout “Child Of God,” starring Wee-Bey, Omar, and the Body Tap Repertory Players) the Snowman rapidly pressed play on song after song from the new record, fading tracks out real quick after the last verse and addressing the room while compulsively Blackberrying at the same time. Perhaps tellingly, it wasn’t a full album listen. Of course all the leaked joints were there, as well as some standouts from I Am The Street Dream (Drama, we love ya, but after listening to the mixtape all weekend, it was great to hear this stuff with no one talking on it). Jeezy didn’t play too many of the big tracks we had heard last summer – although the Inspiration press release alleges that those Snoop and TI tracks made the album, along with the absent high-profile Ludacris, R Kelly, Young Buck and Three 6 collabs.
Jeezy did give us a chance to listen to Don Cannon’s contribution for the first time (from the chopped, familiar soul sample to the overall energy level, it’s “Go Crazy Pt 2″), and an insane Timbaland track called “3am.” Dude felt the need to repeatedly assure the assembled guests that he had no interest at all in doing “Justin Timberlake numbers” (riiiiiiight…) but the track was about as far from a pop hit as you could get, all thick submarine pings and slow flows (“Ad libs here, ad libs there…fuck it, ad libs everywhere…”), going back to that ominous, mid-period Timbo sound that hasn’t really been heard since the days of Missy’s “Hot Boyz” and Jay’s “Snoopy Track.”
And while it’s no secret they blast the speakers at these things to brainwash you into thinking tracks are more epic than they actually are (“You gotta turn it up, man,” was the first thing LA said upon entering the studio), we finally heard a finished version of the Keyshia Cole duet “Dreams,” and gotdamn is it good. Not at all the R&B team up you might expect, the track is deeply and extremely heavy, with slow chord changes and droning, heaving synth bass – no one said who was behind the track (Shawty Redd? The Runners?) but whomever was responsible is the Justin Broadrick of the Triton. We have a sneaking suspicion that Jeezy kept a few songs under wraps so we didn’t think he went soft, but between “Dreams” and a handful of other thick, melodic grinders that made their debut (seriously, if y’all thought the intro on Lets Get It was some goth-rap craziness, you are in for some shit), we’re ready for Xmas on 12/12.