“I always said, I’m the hottest n****a in the streets without a Gangsta Grillz. Now I’m just saying, I’m the hottest n****a in the streets.”
—2 Chainz - “Stunt”
It has been awhile since a rapper has risen to the top of the trap music food via a solo outing chain since 50 Cent was running the mixtape game in 2002-03. 2011 we have seen the rise of 2 Chainz, aka Tity Boi from Playaz Circle, and, quite frankly, he has taken the mixtape world by storm. He released Codeine Cowboy earlier this year and had the single “Spend It” on MTV doggone nearly every hour. So, he followed the hype and following he never had with Playaz Circle (minus Duffle Bag Boy) with the highly anticipated TRU REALigion hosted by loud mouth DJ Drama.
Now allow me to make a few points about 2 Chainz and this mixtape. Despite the ridiculous name change, Chainz is actually a decently talented rapper. He’s actually better than the trap rappers out today like Gucci Mane, Young Jeezy, French Montana, and a shade under Rick Ross. TRU REALigion is for everyone who wants to bump loud music in their car and is a part of the “swag” movement that has all of a sudden taken over. But unfortunately TRU REALigion is actually just okay. Not because it lacks specific things in certain areas, but because 2 Chainz convinced me that he is wasting his talent watering himself and his music down to appeal, and that he is better than this mixtape.
The problem that comes with TRU first is that while he shows off his talent on some songs and lines up features frpm the likes of Kreayshawn, Raekwon, Trey Songz, Big Sean and the bird talk crew of Birdman, Yo Gotti and Young Jeezy, he again just seems to simplify himself a little too much as a trap rapper. Too much trap talk. Too much whore talk and too much gun talk. And the fact that he raps this way on the mixtape will overshadow the actual dope lyrics like “Don’t make me number two ya/ Ok I need some Charmin/I got swag for sell, and I’m giving n****as bargains”. It’s like T.I. in his trap music days (2001-07) becoming a dumbed down, simple rapping MC to the point that he’s not even known for his lyrical abilities. Tip did rap those lyrics Chainz presents on this mixtape, but he never settled to the areas where Gucci and Jeezy rhymed at.
Tracks that stood out to me were on the first half of the mixtape were “Understatement”, and “Riot”. Chainz also took a page out of Rick Ross’s recent success book by adding in a catchy way to say his name (2 chaiinnnnz) and his charisma on the mixtape is a plus. The second half of the mixtape has its bright spots, such as “Letter to Da Rap Game”, with Dolla Boy and legend Raekwon. Chainz held it down on the track, but Raekwon outshined both of the artists. “K.O.”, featured Big Sean, who delivered one of his finest verses since his Finally Famous Days. “One Day at A Time”, featured Jadakiss, and Chainz held his own once again with a legend, rapping with an aggressive battle-like flow. “Spend It” was a huge hit summer 2011 and T.I. returns to rubberband man form. I can even applaud his “I’m going to refrain from treating her as a dirty whore” “Kesha” track. Not his best but it’s decent enough.
But the rest of the mixtape is not noteworthy. Listening to the mix tape, it tore me that a MC so good wants to market and portray himself as a trap rapper. It’s when he gets into this calculated rap (guns, selling drugs, and women) that 2 Chainz really loses me. “Addicted to Rubber Bands” and “Slangin Birds” come to my mind specifically. And I’m still wondering why Kreayshawn is talking about shooting people on “Murder”.
It’s a theme in rap to talk about coke and violence, we know it’s all business. But Chainz can actually spit, and sadly he could end up touring off of just mixtape records like Yo Gotti. Nothing is wrong with that at all. But 2 Chainz is actually good, and he being a trap rapper to me is unsettling. It makes the mixtape unbalanced and you can possibly feel robbed because Chainz is again a good rapper but he should make up his mind: Be the Chainz from the BET Awards Cypher/“Understatement” or possibly fade out in a few years.
// Notes from the Road
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