With his second album, 2 Chainz fully stakes his claim to the title of “Most Entertaining Rapper In The Game”.
The main reaction I have when listening to music by 2 Chainz? Disbelief.
I want to be completely honest: the first time I blasted B.O.A.T.S. II (also known by the (mouth)full title Based On A True Story II #METIME) on an afternoon drive through the city, I laughed literally the entire time. This is a good thing. I’ve always believed that comedy is the most underrated element of rap music, that cursory listeners and detractors fail to recognize the sideways glances that often accompany an artist’s most extravagant boasts. Sure, the genre’s inherently aspirational, and a lot of rappers tout their accomplishments to highlight the struggles that came before their success. But from the Sugarhill Gang on down, rap’s greatest quality is its ability to entertain, to use words in a rhythmic way that puts unplanned grins on our faces.
Nowhere is this more evident than on B.O.A.T.S. II. Without any thought towards coherence, 2 Chainz rapidly jumps from punchline to punchline on this album. Frankly, the movement sounds exhausting, and it doesn’t help that he’s not that skilled at wordplay. He covers the expected themes–sex, selling drugs–while managing to rap with the same homeless bum cadence and complete lack of technical ability that has marked his entire career. If you told me that he spent more than 15 seconds writing any rhyme on this album, I would laugh you right out of the Crown Fried Chicken that I assume we’d be standing in.
But as sloppy and careless as these lyrics can be, it doesn’t matter. The songs bang. And they bang because 2 Chainz commits to every line, imbuing each sentence with his distinct, hype personality. He succeeds through the sheer willingness to just go there, to say literally whatever he wants to at all times. This is a man who follows a line as embarrassingly brilliant as “My wrist deserve a shout out, I’m like ‘What up, wrist?!?'” with “My stove deserve a shout out, I’m like ‘What up, stove?!?'” He practices his math on the record, repeatedly telling us how many ounces are in a brick of cocaine during a song called (what else?) “36”. On a sure-to-be-future-single, he invites Fergie to make a sex tape with him so he can put it on Netflix. I can’t make this shit up, and that’s the point.
Knowingly or unknowingly, 2 Chainz has stumbled upon the biggest secret about music listeners: We don’t want our artists to have talent. We want them to have personality. We want to feel like there’s a person on the other end of that song, someone who loves and fears and says stupid things sometimes. It’s the reason why 2 Chainz sells out stadiums and Blu doesn’t. It’s why I’m unimpressed by Guitarist X doing sweeps across a metal song, but cry when I hear the beginning of John Mayer’s “Slow Dancing In A Burning Room”. And maybe that’s why among the thousands of rappers who claim to be “real” on a daily basis, 2 Chainz is the one I’m most inclined to believe.
Favorite Tracks: “Feds Watching”, “Where You Been”, “I Do It”, “Black Unicorn” (mostly for the title)
P.S. I need to mention the awesomeness of that album cover (props to Kanye West), though it’s kind of hilarious that there’s actually only one chain there if you zoomed out.