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 heâ€™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-90â€™s country-rap canon. His rebranding as 2 Chainz marked not only a concession to â€œfamily-friendlyâ€ 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 yearâ€™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 collectionâ€™s only certifiable street hit, â€œRiot,â€ is relegated to the bonus tracks.
Like Waka Flockaâ€™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: â€œOpinions are like Escalades / Everybody got one.â€
Like what you just read? Support Flagpole by making a donation today. Every dollar you give helps fund our ongoing mission to provide Athens with quality, independent journalism.