Home Read 03 Greedo | God Level

03 Greedo | God Level

The L.A. rapper wears his emotions on his sleeve as unabashedly as he sports the words 'Living Legend' on his cheeks.

Jason Jamal Jackson has had an eventful summer. He turned 31. He dropped his umpteenth album, God Level, the most acclaimed and accomplished release from his latest rap alter-ego 03 Greedo. And oh yeah, he went to jail for 20 years — supposedly plea-bargained down from 300 — after being busted with four pounds of meth and two stolen guns during a 2016 traffic stop in Texas. (Insert your own ‘Inmate 2743503 Greedo‘ gag here.) That’s definitely going to put a crimp in his touring plans for the foreseeable future. But based on reports that he spent the weeks before his incarceration cranking out tracks in the studio — and his stated plan to continue writing and recording via telephone from the pen — it’s probably safe to assume we’ll hear from him again. We can only hope those future offerings reveal the same transfixing depth and honesty as God Level. Informed by his recent legal drama (which included fleeing and subsequently being caught by bounty hunters) and his hardscrabble youth as a member of L.A.’s Grape Street Crips, this exhaustive 98-minute set finds Jackson wearing his emotions on his sleeve as unabashedly as he sports the words ‘Living Legend’ on his cheeks (among several other face tats). Granted, he isn’t the first rapper to talk about running the streets as a kid, robbing drug dealers and pistol-whipping his enemies. But when he reveals he bought his first gun from a basehead, carried it on the bus to school, kept cocaine in his locker and brought his baby mama to prom, it’s hard not to hear the wistfulness mingled with his braggadocio. Nor can you miss it in his tenderly melodic AutoTuned croon and sinister, starkly syrupy trap tracks. And while 27 cuts might seem like exhausting overkill, there are enough standouts — Blower, Basehead, Street Life and the wrassler name-drop Dibiase spring to mind — to keep your attention from flagging. But perhaps no number hits harder than Bacc 2 Jail, where he asks his fiancee: “If I go back to jail, tell me would you stay right by my side?” That remains to be seen. But as long as he keeps delivering at this level, he needn’t worry about losing listeners.