Jeezy has built a decade-plus long career on staying true to himself and keeping it 100 with his fans. But on the night of the 10-year anniversary of his breakthrough and Def Jam debut album Thug Motivation 101: Let’s Get It, he wasn’t very honest.
“I know I said this is a Thug Motivation 101 show,” he said to the sold out crowd in Atlanta’s ritzy Fox Theatre. “But I lied.”
Instead, the night turned into the four-time “Trapper of the Year” driving a time machine with some of music’s biggest names riding shotgun. The artist formerly known as Young Jeezy opened the show dressed in his 2005 trapper garb (black bandana, sunglasses, Black Chuck Taylor sneakers, customized “Thug Motivation 101” basketball jersey) performing the album’s introductory title track. He opted out of performing the tracklist’s next song “Standing Ovation” but that’s exactly what he received when the beat to “Bottom of the Map” dropped, and every moment thereafter.
“If you’re doing better than you was 10-years ago make some motherf***ing noise,” demanded Jeezy ten minutes into the show, pointing at the towering number 10-shaped tunnel with a look of self-realization appearing on his face as well.
After performing the first verse to “My Hood,” the superstar carousel officially began as T.I. and Lil Scrappy joined him on stage for “Bang.” Following a video tribute to one of Jeezy’s early supporters, slain strip club DJ, DJ Nando, Trap Or Die co-conspirator DJ Drama appeared on stage to run through the classic mixtape’s finer moments.
Bun B made his expected appearance for “Trap Or Die,” which was followed by what Jeezy considers his best song, “Get Ya Mind Right.” Jeezy’s former Boyz N Da Hood bandmates joined him to perform their hit “Dem Boyz,” which he followed with his guest verses on Shawty Lo’s “Dey Know” and D4L’s “Scotty,” which included a well-received surprise cameo from Fabo. Mannie Fresh came out for “And Then What” and Lloyd did his part on “Beat It Up.”
“One thing you ain’t gonna call me is a one hit wonder,” snapped Jeezy as he brought Usher in all of his gold microphone glory for their 2008 collaboration “Love In This Club.” Outkast’s Andre 3000 crept out of the shadows to rap his verse on fan favorite “I Do” and they were later joined by Big Boi for an epic photo opp. At this point it seemed the only thing Jeezy could do to cap the night was bring out President Obama for “My President Is Black,” but he did one better by bringing out Chicago’s other favorite son Kanye West for “Put On.”
Jeezy could have ended the night there, but he didn’t seem ready to leave the stage as he ran through some more recent hits including “R.I.P.” and “Seen It All.” Even though he was backed by the 1500 Or Nothing band and supported a who’s who of hip hop, Jeezy never let the show become about anyone else but him and fans that have been riding with him for a decade.
He’s celebrated Thug Motivation 101 in this fashion twice before, in 2010 and 2011, however, those shows seemed more like marketing events to promote his next album. This show proved that even his young music is certified classic, and that Jeezy has a lot to celebrate.
It’s one thing to make an album lasts 10 years, it’s another to be an artist who lasts just as long.
Rewind! Watch YG chop it up on how Jeezy influenced his own debut album in the BET.com exclusive video below.
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(Photo: Thaddaeus McAdams/FilmMagic)