Southern rhymer Young Jeezy first noticed the squeeze in the clubs, in the thinner crowds and the falling number of bottles popping. He saw the bad economy lay claim to family members and friends who lost jobs or had salaries slashed or simply couldn't find work.
Jeezy, who often flows about being flush, heeded the signs of a tanking marketplace – and its reach into the sparkling, often fantastical hip–hop culture. He delivered an album, an ode to the times, called The Recession.
"In my world, when the bottom falls out, we call that a drought," says the Atlanta–based MC. "It's when people are doing less, people have less. When the scene has dried up. I rapped about what I saw, what I felt. I was going to call my album 'The Drought,' then realized most people would better understand if I referred to it as the recession."
As the economy has dominated the political and pop cultural discourse, hip–hop – often draped in hyperbole and long tethered to unabashed materialism – seems to be showing some restraint. Some artists are rapping about bad times; some are living through bad times, facing house foreclosures, car repossessions and plummeting assets, just like the average American. Collectively, both trends may signal a broader shift of the culture. Some culturalists have even proclaimed that bling is dead or at least has lost some of its luster.
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