MusicRecord Reviews

2 Chainz: Based on a T.R.U. Story

To say that you “listen to 2 Chainz” is basically just to say that you listened to the radio in 2012, so intense has been the Atlanta rapper’s ubiquity. Not that he’s necessarily pushing his own sound: as he recently boasted in a Fader profile, he records an estimated six to eight guest verses per week. Backed by that kind of scorched-earth networking, the commercial success of his major label debut seems as much a foregone conclusion as its blandness and dull lack of ambition.

As Tity Boi, one half of Playaz Circle, he made two strong albums shaped by the mid-90’s country-rap canon. His rebranding as 2 Chainz marked not only a concession to “family-friendly†populism, but also a genuine effort to adapt to the changing realities of the genre, a back-to-the-drawing-board gesture of self-reinvention.

While his mixtapes, particularly last year’s Codeine Cowboy and T.R.U. REALigion, have been sporadically thrilling, Based on a T.R.U. Story dumbs down the formula, relying on a tactlessly unsurprising selection of guests, like an obviously bored Lil Wayne and child-actor-turned-soft-drink-spokesman Drake. The most adventurous beats, from dependable eccentrics DJ Mustard and Mike Will Made It, are wasted, and the collection’s only certifiable street hit, “Riot,†is relegated to the bonus tracks.

Like Waka Flocka’s recent Triple F Life, the overall impression is of individual energy tamed and tempered by commercial considerations. But what do I know? As 2 Chainz puts it, channeling Young Jeezy: “Opinions are like Escalades / Everybody got one.â€


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