I originally wrote this in February and spent a looooong time editing this with David Drake to post on So Many Shrimp. But, it didn’t end up getting posted, so I am posting it here and just so David Drake doesn’t feel like his editing went to waste: The last 2 Chainz lines quoted are from the song “25 Lighters”, so that sentence is a bit of a moot point.
2 Chainz has finally tipped my personal scale in his favor. In 6 months, he has gone from: “Who cares about this unfunny Atlanta trap rapper” to “I’ve been saying ‘Imma start a riot’ a lot today” to “Man, his verse on ‘Fuck Em’ is great” to “I MUST TO TWEET EVERY LINE FROM ANY NEW 2 CHAINZ VERSE”.
Originally part of the duo Playaz Circle, Tity Boy started releasing solo mixtapes a few years ago, and started calling himself 2 Chainz after someone probably explained to him that a radio DJ isn’t going to be shouting out to a rapper named “Tity Boy” too often. I never really listened to Playaz Circle; I found his early solo stuff pretty unmemorable; even his latest mixtape from late last year with DJ Drama I thought was pretty middling.
2 Chainz is a pretty solid rapper; he isn’t limited to one flow; he has a good ear for beats and isn’t as one note topic wise as a cursory listen of his work might say. But, as David Drake pointed out a few months ago, at least in terms of carrying the tradition of being a leading Atlanta rapper, 2Chainz is by no means a step up or even too much an evolution of what Gucci Mane was doing before getting locked up multiple times and bottoming out recording a mixtape with V-Nasty.
On New Year’s Eve, I listened to “Riot” enough that mind was saying “Imma start a riot, Imma start a riot” for the next month. Then Rick Ross’ Rich Forever came out and during his verse on “Fuck Em” 2 Chainz was able to justified downloading that overrated mixtape by claiming his father figure was Too Short and coming up with one of the best disses of the year in “My shit, that fire shit, and your shit, boring”. That particular line succeeds with crucial intentional pauses that 2 Chainz gives to each couple of words holding back till the eventual punch line. David Drake referred to this as the “Wink Flow”, which describes a lot of 2 Chainz best lines, and might explain why they are a lot funnier to listen to than actually read. But, there are also lines like “What you know about walking into the Gucci store and they salute” that are delivered with little of that inflection, yet it’s lodged in my brain by providing one of the more ridiculous images involving the always much rapped about Gucci brand.
So, with no one really challenging him 2 Chainz has become the number one go to guy for rappers who need a “Big Name Feature” for their new single or remix. Big K.R.I.T.’s single “Money on the Floor” was a great throwback track and 2 Chainz’s final verse runs with the line “25 to lifer” into an image of him with a stack of 25 bibles. His successive mention of “25 ______” could strike some as lazy, but once tuned in with his humor it becomes hard to not at least chuckle at each of his successive ridiculous boats. But, I think Gucci Mane’s “Okay With Me” is probably the best litmus test for 2 Chainz, because if the line “Shawty got them crab legs, I got that Old Bay with me” and the accompanying visual don’t get a laugh, listening to rap 2012 is going to be a long eight more months for you.
Mercy - Kanye West (feat. Big Sean, Pusha T and 2 Chainz)
On “Mercy”, Big Sean begins his verse with grating “ass” puns; the workmen quality of Pusha T reaches its peak or bottom with “heads spinning…that’s Exorcist”; Kanye, well don’t tell him rap music doesn’t usually incorporate Italo Disco; 2 Chainz, my god could someone tell me what his verse is actually about beyond a weird aside about his money being tall like Jordan (6’6”), despite the fact he’s only an inch shorter (6’5”) than “His Airness”. That was my initial reaction to the song. Now, I find Big Sean’s jokes funny and accept “that’s Swiss time, and that’s excellent” is truly excellent.
I don’t know how many times I’ve heard the song again before I came around to it. And usually right here, I’d like to bring up some iTunes library count to say how many times I’ve heard this song in the last five months, but sadly that number does not represent how ingrained this specific song became in my life the last month of Sophomore year.
When the song first was released, I heard it on an online stream from a Chicago rap station. I was not underwhelmed, but I certainly wasn’t yelling at everyone I knew to listen to the new Kanye song.
Yet, soon enough a couple guys I lived with started playing the song: when people were studying, when people were getting ready to go out, or honestly any time during the day when they were awake and could press play. This started rubbed-off on me, and I kept on listening, and listening, and listening, and listening.
The same thing happened last school year with “Niggas in Paris” and “Levels”, where if I ever had to be appreciating of living with nine other dudes it came from the fact that after a while certain songs would become THAT SONG. And, by becoming THAT SONG, it would get played, and played, till a silent agreement was settled upon to cease playing it.
Yet, “Mercy” escaped that fate. It came out in that time between spring break and finals giving it a pure month of blaring across our suite. The video came out in June and the song’s popularity peaked over the summer as I was back home away from the guys that’d quote random 2 Chainz lines and I’d be ready with the next line.
It’s a new school year, and I still see those bros, but I’m living with new dudes. I enjoy my new living situation, but every time I hear “Clique”, even with friends, I cannot muster up the same excitement. The song is about the G.O.O.D Music bros being bros, but Kanye and crew already gave me and my bros THAT SONG.
“No Lie” might have been 2 Chainz’s lead single, but the song was really stolen by Drake with only a hook and a verse. But, this isn’t that new, because he has been doing this the past year with songs by Rick Ross (“Stay Schemin”), Meek Mill (“Amen”), and even Waka Flocka Flame (“Round of Applause”), but “No Lie” is the current peak of his recent guest work.
Drake can rattle off lines like “Forbes list like ever year” and “She thinks I’m the realest out, I said ‘Damn that makes two of us’” that are pure narcissism, but they can still sound so great coming out car speakers and somehow even better when you are rapping along with them for the 30 or 40th time.
Even, the line “I just need to know what that pussy is like, so one time’s fine with me” even if not phrased the same way is a sentiment I’ve heard from people plenty of times my last couple years of college (I’d also say that Drake’s fan base is probably not too much older than his mid-20s self, so that doesn’t seem too surprising). Also, that particular line is captured excellently in Director X’s video as 2 Chainz and Drake both hold up a single finger with disinterested looks, as if to shrug their shoulders over whatever may or may not happen to these women they are talking about.
Drake also benefits being placed between 2 Chainz’s almost completely nonsensical sex raps allowing him to kind of run with the same idea with some actually though behind his words. The longer the verse goes and the more hand motions you invent to go along with Drake’s verse makes it by the end, when Drake says “We don’t talk shit, we just state facts (Yes Lord)” you’re so caught up in Drake’s—and by extension your—ego enough to have said the entire verse and not care about whether you agree or disagree with Drake’s words, because his sentiment has found a way to ring true.
I’m Up - Gucci Mane (feat. 2 Chainz)
2 Chainz’s Verse
Yeah, I got fire,
For your, F Y I,
Niggas disrespect me,
It’s hello, good bye,
All my hoes is dyking,
All your hoes is trifling,
Yeah, I got a pistol,
But, the bullets from a rifle,
Yeah, they call me deuce,
I deuces on my coup,
Put two swishers together looking like I’m blowing on a flute,
Yeah, niggas we up,
We ride up on you,
Ralph Lauren teddy bear,
This not Winnie the Pooh,
Yeah, nigga we winning,
And spending it on these women,
And I ain’t not playing soccer, when I’m kicking it at Lenox,
Say what up Louie, say what up to Fendi,
Niggas, know what we doing,
I make it so I spend it
Wearing the same leopard jacket! At… two different times!
Do you like 2 Chainz? Do you like Future? Do you like the clothes worn by 2 Chainz and Future? Well, I’ve got a blog for you:
It’s run by David (myself, a music blogger and general person about/near twitter), Michelle (better known as there theremixbaby, or better yet “Your nerdy music writer’s favorite tumblr on music writing and other awesome things”), and Meaghan (part maker of rap art, part music mix maker, part hilarious person on twitter, and probably on Iggy Azalea’s most wanted list!).
Str8 Like That - Meek Mill (feat. 2 Chainz & Louie V)
Let’s get this out the way: Meek Mill can write hooks. “I’m A Boss” might have had some Rick Ross adlibs, but Meek’s yelping “Yeah, I’m the king where’s my mothafucking crown” made it the perfect drunken sing-a-long rap song of 2011. And on Dreamchasers 2 it would be hard to call the hooks of “Amen”, “Flexing”, or “Lean Wit It” weak, when each song could easily run rap radio stations/DJ mixes for the summer.
So, why exactly did I choose “Str8 Like That”, which lacks Meek Mill on the hook, to be my highlight from Dreamchasers 2? Uumm, the song is just kind of perfect. The hook by Louie V is pure Swag Rap, a Roscoe Dashesque auto-tune soaring chorus on top of a steroided variation of “Show Out”. Louie V’s style is pretty different from Meek’s usual hard-nosed rap hooks that eschew any traces of sing-songy hooks.
Relieved of hook carrying duty allows Meek to attack the beat for two strong verses and sandwiched between Meek is rap star of the moment 2 Chainz, who makes the most of his materialistic boast by ending his verse saying “to tell a friend, to tell a friend, to tell a friend” about how much he spent on his paint job and rims.
Right now, rap music is almost at parody levels of bizarre collaborations, as if rapper’s careers were controlled by an 18-year-old Complex reader. And as much as I like Swizz Beatz rapping over Araabmuzik’s production; Meek Mill and Swag Rap is a left field combination that makes more sense heard rather than on paper.*
*In Phily, Meek also has a history on some “Swag Rap” classics. Locally, he had two popular freestyles on “Swag Surfin” and “Ain’t I” So while this may seem like a departure from the harder MMG/Ross styled anthemic ish, there is a precedent. - A great note/correction of history from Crossfadedbacon
You weren’t wondering this, but yes I do think “Shawty got them crab legs, I got that Old Bay with me” every time I hear “crab”, “legs” or “bay”.
Without attempting to step on too many toes: I don’t like rap mixtapes. Rap mixtapes are horribly mixed by loud self-promoting DJs, they are 20+ tracks long, calling the sound quality inconstant would be a complement, and there are way too many released every week. Yet, how often do you hear people talk about these issues? Not enough. This isn’t a call to be contrarian and say every mixtape is awful and not worth listening to—it is more to say that lots of mixtapes are released, get unchecked co-signs and praise, then when I listen to the music I never understand the reason for the hype. I am going to start writing about these middling mixtapes, so here is a quick rubric for a general heads up warning before you download a mixtape then a quick review of the mixtape.
“DJing”: 8/10 (A pretty solid DJ Drama performance)
Sound Quality: 8/10 (I did not have to keep constantly alter the volume, so that is good)
Length: 6/10 (It is under 20 songs including skits, which is good)
Production: 5/10 (Generic trap beats with a few average soul/melancholy closer tracks)
Quality of Producer Names: 6/10 (“Cash Hits”, a producer name only a mother could love, also “Mayo”)
2 Chainz (formally known as Tity Boy) positive qualities are hard to exactly pinpoint. On T.R.U.REALigion he shows a range of different flows and nimbleness around the mic that would be exciting to hear if he ever said anything more than how is going to fuck your girlfriend.
The street rap that 2 Chainz has been appearing on all year still stands in the shadow of Lex Luger, as his dark bloated production along with the other trend following trap producers are all over this mixtape. But, even with the biggest DJ and trap rap producers, no beat is going to save a mixtape that has a chorus go “I’m going hard…Viagra”. Nothing can save that.
I’m On Worldstar - Drumma Boy (feat. Tity Boi (2 Chainz), Gucci Mane, & Young Buck)
That Drumma Boy doesn’t sound out of place rapping over one of his prototypical banger when paired with a solid line-up of Southern staple artists (Tity Boy (2 Chainz), Gucci Mane, and Young Buck) is a compliment to the fact stepping up the mic might not be a bad idea for the producer. He does not have the best verse on the song, as Gucci Mane in 2011 still has good verses in him, and his calling himself “Comma Boy” riffing on Tity Boy’s name is pretty funny. Tity Boy has a characteristically middling verse about sex, and yet it’s not the song’s worst verse as Young Buck is a perplexing mix of extreme underachieving and trying too hard. Tity Boy’s appeal remains elusive to me, but he does offer a bit of personality Young Buck could only dream, so while Young Buck’s verse is well executed the dearth of substance stops any momentum the verse could have picked up.
Drumma Boy’s opening synth slowly creeps through the track, while not quite encouraging a head bob; it pushes more for a full body side to side swaying. This a plodding quality is a trademark of Drumma Boy’s beats which makes them great to loop for extended periods of time, as this is a five minute long song I’ve listened to on a constant repeat and never gotten tired of it, which says something when there is only one really strong verse in the song.