I Might Forgive... But I Don’t Forget
At this stage in Jeezy’s storied music career, the firsts are largely behind him. In a matter of two decades, he topped album charts, influenced an untold number of rappers, and rose to become one of the most recognizable and respected figures in hip-hop history. Yet by officially parting ways with Def Jam, he embarks on something altogether different: independence. In celebration of this new beginning, at a time when rappers over 40 not only survive, but even thrive, he reintroduces himself with the 90-minute double-album I Might Forgive... But I Don’t Forget for his own CTE New World imprint. Evenly divided into relatively neat halves, there’s a consistency to these 29 tracks—for more reason than one. J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League oversees the production, perpetuating a long-standing history with the rapper that goes as far back as Let’s Get It: Thug Motivation 101. Adding to that, Jeezy comes across with a certain focus no doubt engendered by stepping out on his own. He emerges with “I Might Forgive” and “My Name,” two tracks that put haters and naysayers directly in his line of sight, and he combats ageism, media bias, and other slights against him. Coming from a position of power, this defensive stance makes one of the project’s most prevalent themes, a thread that features again and again on cocksure cuts like “Couldn’t Lose If I Tried,” “Expectations,” and “Nothin to Prove.” Deliberately devoid of guests, I Might Forgive... But I Don’t Forget also appears to have brought more of Jeezy himself to the mic in a substantive way. Given the life changes happening amid this career shift, it comes as no surprise that there are more personal reveals and reflections here than one might expect from The Snowman. “Don’t Cheat” speaks on relationship rules and realities, while “Keep the Change” relishes in feelings of revenge. Buoyed by a mid-2000s throwback beat, “If I’m Being Honest” speaks concurrently to his past, present, and future, while “Delusional” goes in on those who violate honor codes. The subtly redacted storytelling of “Claim to Fame,” “Everything About Me Is True,” and “Trust No One” elucidate why Jeezy is nowhere near done in the rap game.