Usually I avoid writing 2 Chainz reviews. His albums are difficult to score. I have a lot of respect for how he operates. But the music itself is fairly predictable. During his solo breakout run, I hated pretty hard. People were talking about his debut like it was an instant classic. Time has proven otherwise. Yet I recognized the value of that album shortly after my review. Nevertheless, news of a Tity Boi project doesn’t excite me. More often than not his albums get stale about six songs in for me. He makes unique bangers and exudes boatloads of personality on the track. However, like with most trap rappers, his songwriting fails to leave a lasting impression in the long run. Despite this, I did enjoy his previous full-length release, Pretty Girls Like Trap Music. Outside of some dull features, the album had a few sturdy hits.
When I’m not in critic mode, I heavily fuck with 2 Chainz’s music. He is the king of zany one-liners. Any party, hangout, or get-together is better with 2 Chainz. He remains one of the most reliable hip-hop features out right now. And has been for quite some time. While I love a good 2 Chainz verse, stretching his sound out to 45 minutes or more tends to yield yawn-inducing results. It all depends on what you’re looking for, though. What he lacks in craftsmanship he makes up for with wit, wisdom, and self-awareness. On his latest album, Rap or Go to the League, this Georgia native veers from his typical formula. The first three tracks are a breath of fresh air for his discography. He channels an early-00’s energy on a handful of tracks here, which he sauces all over. My favorite of the bunch is “Rule the World.”
Following their “7 Rings” remix collaboration, 2 Chainz and Ariana Grande reconnect and deliver a solid performance. Although it didn’t knock my socks off, the song emits a feel-good vibe that I appreciate. As for the rest of the features, they did a decent job overall. On “High Top Versace” with Young Thug, Chainz sounds like a guest on his own track next to Thugger’s animated delivery. Lil Wayne and E-40 snap on “2 Dollar Bill.” However, the obnoxious hook left a bad taste in my mouth, keeping me from returning to it. Kendrick Lamar appears on “Momma I Hit a Lick,” and I’m torn. K-Dot is easily one of my favorites. However, similar to this album’s executive producer LeBron James, you can’t just throw him on the roster and expect a great record. His vocal approach does stand out amongst the rest. Yet he sounds incredibly awkward.
While I’m on this topic, I have to address two phone-in perpetrators. Can somebody please tell Travis Scott that rhyming summer with Hummers was wack ten years ago? Any time Travis features on a track, he barely puts forth effort. As a matter of fact, he barely even sounds awake half the time. Dude has been phoning in hooks for about two years now. Personally, I’m sick of the bottom-feeder bars, bro. If you don’t care about a song (which is evident here by the absence of his many ad-libs), then do something better with your time. He wasted a promising beat by immersing the track in effects and providing a lazy hook, making 2 Chainz look bad. He didn’t ask for that, and deserves better from an artist as talented as Scott. Additionally, Ty Dolla $ign sounds like he gave up on his artistry entirely. This saddens me.
Since his killer debut album, Ty Dolla has chosen the commercial lifestyle of dumbed-down pop hooks and check-collecting performances. I love his voice and writing skills. However, if he’s going to continue handing in vapid offerings, then I will continue to trash him until he gets his groove back. But I digress. As a whole, Rap or Go to the League is a new twist on the same 2 Chainz brand. He mixes it up with some introspection and more serious material in the first section. Then it picks up with some banging beats and hilarious lines like “My daughter asked me what a drug dealer was, I said Me!” In spite of an impressive instrumental palette, Rap or Go to the League loses steam quickly toward the back end. Also, there is no centerpiece single to which this album can hang its hat. It gets the job done nonetheless.
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