Crack Exposé


“Go Crazy (Remix)” was an epic tragedy, the horns kicking on like a search lamp, light in the darkness: dun dun dun, dun, dun dun dun, that irresistible drum roll. Then the producers’ watermark—”Cannonnnnn”—for Don Cannon, who superimposed a sample from a song about traveling the world (Impressions’ “Man Oh Man”) on an anthem for trappers who never leave the block. Starts off hard: “Guess who’s bizack?” asks Jeezy. Borrowing ideas from a Jay-Z verse, he transmutes his boss’s learned hustler into omnificent grimacing dopeboy. It’s “pain plus work”: Jeezy and Joe are still sullen and hardened, respectively, bookending Jay’s now perpetual glee.

BUT. Underneath all “Go Crazy” ‘s hardened he-manning lives a macho’s weaknesses and fears—and for three dudes schooled in the heavily male-coded modes of rap and drugs, Jeezy, Jay, and Joe are surprisingly sloppy about exposing their cracks. “I’m emotional/I love my glock!” Jeezy smirks defensively, self-aware and rationalizing his own frigidity. Jay lets genius and bluster mask his need for constant recognition, even as he calls the sly marketing bluff of “corporate thugs.” And Joe? His disgust for poseurs, snitches, and his “bitch”-as-Brute is second only to the paranoia wrought by kingpinning (“Feds low in them Coupe Devilles/So I keep one eye open like Bushwick Bill/They said my mind’s playin’ tricks on me (Damn right)/So I let off a half a clip on ’em”) It’s the sound of the dopeboys actually going crazy, caught in the double bind of the pusher’s unsustainable lifestyle, freed by its sublime lyricism. Jay’s line, “I got the keys if you need work/I can kingpin you a line a dime at a time,” is triple-entendre fire—are we putting starter bags of dope on layaway or is he giving us all jobs at Def Jam corporate?—but add in his snarling tone and that guttural “UH” at the end, the “UH” that wraps up the flow and marvels at his own genius/meanness.

Brooklyn, New York