Album Review: 2 Chainz – Based On A T.R.U. Storyby Rahul Pandya on Aug, 14 2012
The tale of 2 Chainz begins a little over a year ago when his overlooked Codeine Cowboy mixtape spawned the hit “Spend It”, which, with its tweet-worthy exclamations (“SIMILAC!”) and undeniable hook, took him from local Atlanta personality to, slowly but surely, nation-wide household name.
Well, technically, 2 Chainz’s story started several years before that when he wasn’t 2 Chainz at all. He went by the name Tity Boi, a nickname given to him as a child based on him being around his mother so often, and comprised one-half of the duo Playaz Circle. Playaz Circle earned a relative hit with the Lil Wayne-assisted “Duffle Bag Boy” in 2007, but their two albums under Ludacris’s Disturbing Tha Peace imprint went generally unnoticed. It was a frustrating time for Chainz, but he coped with the label politics and contract disputes by pursuing solo success, under the more TV-friendly name 2 Chainz, with a number of mixtapes – nine, over five years, to be exact.
Following the success of “Spend It”, 2 Chainz was called upon for guest verses on what seems like a million different songs. His hilarious punchlines and charisma had him coasting alongside rap and R&B’s biggest names. He became the most exciting thing in music, and that is no exaggeration. When Nicki Minaj, Young Jeezy and Kanye West came calling, 2 Chainz not only played his part, but stole the show on “Beez In The Trap“, “Supafreak“, and “Mercy“, respectively. Even when it came time for Justin Bieber to release a remix for his hit “Boyfriend“, 2 Chainz was the man to go to. All the acclaim came as no surprise to Chainz, of course, who rapped “The crazy thing about it/I been knew I had it/I was being patient/Y’all was being stagnant” on 2011′s “Got One”.
Now that he has commanded everyone’s attention, a true (truuu) solo album was all that was necessary for him to really establish himself. With no time constraints or label issues, 2 Chainz was in a comfortable enough position to make Based On a T.R.U. Story, the album he wanted. But BOATS doesn’t quite feel like the significant debut that it should be. Of course, at 35 years of age, having been rapping for at least 15 of them, he can’t really call anything at this point a debut, but this album at least allowed him the opportunity to properly let the world know who he is.
BOATS instead recycles the themes that have been prevalent in his many guest verses: peddling crack, getting money, fucking your girl. There’s no narrative of his origins, no emotional connect, no personal stories about the man behind the character, which is more disappointing since he is clearly capable of doing so. That said, his traditional topics never stopped us from enjoying his work before, but the rapping here seems more or less uninspired. Chainz has earned the right (and is generally playful enough) to get away with lines like “She got a big booty/so I call her big booty”, but the ferociousness from his guest verses is noticeably absent.
The guest list on BOATS reads like a who’s who of rap today – Drake, Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj, Kanye West. Then there’s head scratchers like Mike Posner, John Legend and The-Dream, talented songwriters in their own right, just unnecessary on a 2 Chainz album. The production, a compilation of generic trap beats, also leaves much to be desired. The one beat that seems to push Chainz’s ability, Don Cannon’s “I Feel Good”, is left off as a bonus track.
The man, formerly known as Tity Boi, has easily secured his spot in hip-hop today, after years of putting in work. This album was the final puzzle piece that would complete the legend that is 2 Chainz. Perhaps he’s saving all that he is truly capable of for a later release, to add even more to the legend. Based On A T.R.U. Story may not be the album we wanted; still, any man that says “Woodgrain, chestnut/Tity fuck, CHEST NUT” surely deserves our attention from here on out.