The church is usually a place for spiritual healing. Right now, the world is undoubtedly going through an extremely dark, confusing, and hate-driven era. It feels like every time we log online, there’s news stories about people of color being gunned down in the streets or being violently assaulted by a trigger happy police officer, or somebody with hate in their blood. The mass murder of unholy proportions from terrorists (domestic and international) seem like regular blog fodder — and that’s just sad, ‘yall.
We’re existing in a world full of intolerance, sorrow, and anger. So, now is the time where we need to be healed as a people (all colors and creeds). This is where the church comes in. Not just the traditional church with the choir but the church that hip-hop built. The place that embraces who you are in order to heal the spiritually sick and fallen. And, that’s where Jeezy aka Pastor Young comes in. As they say, the church is all around you, and this time, the ATL star brings his firebrand word to the streets.
Jeezy has developed a knack for being at the forefront of whatever social issues are killing the impoverished neighborhoods of America, and always delivers music when his congregation needs it the most. His latest project is no different. Throughout the lengthy tracklist, he delivers a balanced message of righteousness and ratchetness. Or even a strange mix of righteous ratchetness with lit bangers like the title track “Church In These Streets,” “New Clothes,” and “Hustlaz Holiday.” The overall theme is almost like a blend of his 2008 moment-in-time classic, The Recession and his current status as a trap god. In fact, everything you know about Jeezy’s style, from his convincing delivery to his famous adlibs of “YEEEAAAAAHHHHHHH” and “THAT’S RIIIIGGHHHTT!!!!!” has been perfectly translated to give off the vibe of listening to a church sermon from a street general who seen it all, and done it all.
Jeezy’s spirited testimonies are the most important highlights throughout the album. Almost like a ghetto revival of sorts, he charges in with the song “Lost Souls”, a track dedicated to the dope boys and strippers who have lost their lives or lost their souls while locked up. The more uptempo “J Bo” track pays homage to the incarcerated BMF member, Chad “J-BO” Brown. Jeezy, the known BMF affiliate, shows love throughout the hook, rapping: “Shine in my pictures, pull up like J Bo/Death before dishonor I put that on my mama (like J-BO).”
And what’s a black church without getting turnt all the way up? “Holy Water” is an energetic record that very well could give you the ghetto holy ghost. Not only that, but it’s a prime example of a song that balances the ratchet with the righteous. Think of this song as the communion of the trap, right after the choir turns up as people dance all across the aisle.
However, the project’s greatest moment lies on the inspirational “Just Win”, a song that can resonate with everyone who’s starting from the bottom (word to Drake). It samples a speech from motivational speaker Les Brown and finds Pastor Young making three important and relevant points. First, he encourages everyone to go out for their place in the world despite all the things they feel are holding them back. Second, he clearly defines how success isn’t as black and white as simply “having an education.” On the track, he raps, “See my counselor told me education or you starve/Last time I seen her she ain’t even have a job.” And finally, he pretty much sums up why the poor community has no faith in preachers or politicians in the first place.
Like what a good church is supposed to be, this album welcomes people of all colors and creeds — from the street cats to the common man — Jizzle alienates none. Pastor Young skillfully addresses issues plaguing the poor minority communities such as black on black crime, poverty, and how people of color face racial inequality in the world. The sequencing is perfect and the all of the skits help bridge the album seamlessly.
Church In These Streets is a more memorable effort than his last album, I Seen It All: The Autobiography, and holds a special place near his timeless classics,Thug Motivation 101 and The Recession. Like I mentioned earlier, Jeezy has the knack for making the right albums at the right time. In these dark times, this is the sermon the streets needed with messages that everyone, from all walks of life, need to hear. Amen, Pastor Young. Amen.
The album is available on iTunes now.