Lately, it feels like we judge big rap shows by who shows up, not by who we’re actually there to see. And doing that at last night’s Young Jeezy show at the Highline would be totally worthwhile. Within the first ten minutes we got brief, ecstatic verses from both Jay-Z and Kanye West, and as the night went on Bun B popped in, as did the ubiquitous Fabolous, as did all of The Lox for some reason. It felt like a reminder that Jeezy—who hasn’t released an official album since 2008′s The Recession—is still a hugely popular part of the rap landscape.
Initially billed as a show honoring the release of Jeezy’s Def Jam debut Thug Motivation: 101, the idea was that he’d play the whole record front to back. This was an exhausting, if exciting prospect. In recent years, a whole lot of rappers with solid albums to their names have performed those records in track order. When done right, it emphasizes the big hits and is a reminder of some of the lesser appreciated album tracks. Jeezy did play a wide swath of tracks from that first record (although we didn’t catch “Thug Motivation 101,” one of our favorite opening tracks on any rap album), but he also hit more recent beats. “Put On,” his collaboration with Kanye, sounded as triumphant and exciting as it did when it first came out.
While it was maybe not the best look to bring your biggest two guests so early in the show, it ultimately didn’t matter. Jeezy’s voice is perpetually raw and raspy, but still powerful. Hearing him perform his greatest hits to an unusually stoked New York crowd was a sign that we’re ready for Jeezy’s return, he just has to actually do it.