art by waɪ.ti

Rap music is better when the economy is in terrible shape. At the moment, the US economy is in the toilet. Questlove had a theory on general social depression/economic mess and great rap music/black art –

My theory is that nine times out of ten, if there’s a depression, more a social depression than anything, it brings out the best art in black people. The best example is, Reagan and Bush gave us the best years of hiphop. I think had Carter and then Mondale won, or if Jesse [Jackson] were President from ’84 to ’88, hiphop wouldn’t have been the same. Hiphop wouldn’t have existed. I think you would have more black Tom Waitses. Marsalis would be goin double platinum. There would be more black Joni Mitchells. [Gets impish grin.] The Roots would sell ten million.

The quote above is from an interview he did in 2003, and since then his band released two politically charged albums, Game Theory and Rising Down.  Obviously, Questo’s point is multi-layered and nuanced, and I’m not completely sure how strong his theory holds in the post-Bush and Obama era, with our Soulja Boy and ringtone rap phenomenon and recent technological advances.

I have gathered a series of tracks, recession rap jams that have been cropping up as the economy continue its decline.  For the next two weeks, I will be posting individual rap jams addressing the global economic crisis from realistic, pragmatic, and amusing levels, along with a brief description. The vast majority of the tracks came from blogs like BLVD ST, Nah Right, 2dopeboyz, and cocaine blunts, and a few from CDs and other sources.

So get ready – those of us with non-recession-proof pockets, those of us who have been living in an economic recession all our lives – Recession Rap Jams!


Young Jeezy – Circulate

Hate to have to be the one that said I told you
Lord knows I can’t wait until this recession’s over
Gas higher than me, shit, I’m tryin to see
And whereever that they at that’s where I’m tryin to be
It was all good a week ago, Young, the big tipper
Grind it all, we can throw it all at the strippers
Got me looking at my stash, like where the fuck the rest at
Looking at my watch like its a bad investment
Speakin of investmens, we talking investments
My Re-Up money, Yeah im tryna invest it
Sell a nigga dream, Man tellin me its up
His folks got him on hold, still ain’t heard nothing

Sound like the countrys going broke
The industrys going up in smoke
Politicians talking crazy
Or they just bein to lazy
Is it all because of Watergate?

As far as I can tell, Young Jeezy forsaw the seriousness of the current global economic struggle in early 2008 and titled his album The Recession, probably the best mainstream rap release of last year— mainly because it features actual rapping. On “Circulate”, Jeezy and producer Don Cannon rework a Billy Paul/soul track from the 1970s dealing with issues ranging from the financial crisis, govt overspending, and stock market crash to unemployment, price of food and gas, and  environmental degradation.


  1. Well, I mean rapping without autotune, or singing. Kanye’s 808s is a pop record and Lil Wayne, who is more productive and successful than any other mainstream rapper, is only part time rapping these days. That’s what I was thinking about…. other actual-rapping albums with limited mainstream shine were from The Roots, Killa Mike, Nas, and Q-Tip…

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