2 Chainz

"Rap or Go to the League" is arguably one of 2 Chainz’ best albums to date. (fuseboxradio / Creative Commons)

For months now, 2 Chainz has been releasing snippets on social media showing him and Lakers star Lebron James in the studio. James plays as Artists & Repertoire on 2 Chainz’ fifth studio album, “Rap or Go to the League,” which is a true testament of both gentlemen’s circumstances. Now, the final project is officially out and it is arguably one of 2 Chainz’ best albums to date.

2 Chainz, formerly known as Tity Boi from the rap group Playaz Circle, has primarily always been known for his features and singles. 2 Chainz’s M.O. as a solo artist has usually been pumping out individual singles, collaborating with acts such as Drake, Nicki Minaj, YG and many others. This album changes that narrative.

The cynical title, “Rap or Go to the League,” is often what many Black men hear growing up in poorer circumstances. Like the woman mentioned in the skit “Forgiven,” the album title implies that America only wants to see Black people in higher positions that are limited to entertainment and nothing else.

The fact that 2 Chainz chose rap and James went to the league give greater meaning to the album’s purpose. As a former college basketball player, 2 Chainz makes his voice loud and clear on the track “NCAA.” This track offers a glimpse of the nature of his former career and points out the cruel treatment dealt to college athletes who bring in millions of dollars for their university.

Threat 2 Society” shows how 2 Chainz has managed to become a successful artist. This is apparent when 2 Chainz casually raps, “Natural disasters, all these emotional rappers / Master of my own fate and I own my own masters.”

The album showcases a more serious 2 Chainz who is ready to become a wise mentor to the younger generation. At the age of 41, 2 Chainz uses this album to reflect on the experiences he’s had, sharing them so that others can learn from his mistakes. Tracks such as “Sam,” which is about good ol’ Uncle Sam — the personification of the American tax system — showcase 2 Chainz’s economic growth.

While 2 Chainz is starting to have more substance to his music, he can still deliver the hits he’s known to provide. This is evident in tracks like “Momma I Hit A Lick,” featuring Kendrick Lamar, where the two go back and forth for the first time ever. With a Pharrell-produced beat, the track is a collaboration we didn’t know we needed until now.

Girl’s Best Friend,” featuring Ty Dolla Sign, and “Rule the World,” with Ariana Grande on the chorus are other tracks that contain 2 Chainz’ classic mainstream sound. Though the latter has a pretty noticeable sample of Amerie’s 2002 single “Why Don’t We Fall in Love,” Grande’s lyrics add nothing to the song and it probably would have been better just to have Amerie re-record a new version.

Overall, 2 Chainz has, in a lighter fashion, redeemed himself, forcing listeners to take him seriously as an album rapper. From someone who used to go by “Tity Boi,” to being a regular trap club hitmaker, the fact that 2 Chainz is now able to produce a full-length project with a story is commendable.

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