Fiction is greater than fact in hip-hop, and grandiose tales of street life – albeit usually far from reality – make for better records. But amid a perpetually growing milieu of poseurs and tall tales, Young Jeezy has always been perceived as the real deal; hustling earned him significant wealth well before ever picking up a microphone. Jeezy, unlike most rappers, leverages music as a personal soapbox versus a means to some mercenary ends; he raps because he damn well feels like it, not because he has to. You just can’t buy that type of cred.
It was fitting then, that the rapper opened his Hustlerz Ambition tour last night at NYC’s Irving Plaza with a voiceover from Ray Liotta’s character (Henry Hill) in Goodfellas: "As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster. To me, being a gangster was better than being President of the United States."
Clad in a black leather jacket, sunglasses, a gold rope chain with a blindingly shiny medallion and a buttery MCM baseball cap, Jeezy was the hood’s Henry Hill, although ultimately more successful. He followed up with his own hustler’s monologue, "Soul Survivor" and then catapulted into a medley of songs from Let's Get It: Thug Motivation 101 including the resplendent, Drumma Boy-produced "Standing Ovation" and the infectious ode to the South, "Bottom of the Map."