Monday, 20 August 2012
2 Chainz - Based On A T.R.U Story
It has been a good year for 2 Chainz. Musically active since the mid 90's, his previous 'Tity Boi' stage name proved to be a hindrance as his Playaz Circle group attained middling success through the early 2000's. A quick change of moniker and Tauheed Epps has suddenly become one of the most prolific featured artists of 2012. Mixtape acclaim has been followed by feverish anticipation for his debut solo album. It's all going so well that, if his frequent boasts are to be believed, Chainz is now charging $100,000 for each guest verse. With the backing of veteran label Def Jam, fans are now able to see for themselves whether Based On A T.R.U Story is able to maintain his stratospheric rise to the top.
Things do not get off to a great start. Album opener 'Yuck' is patchy, with an unpleasant, entirely unnecessary chorus from Lil Wayne. Thankfully, following efforts 'Crack' and 'Dope Peddler' find the Georgia resident in comfortingly familiar territory. The simplistic, bouncy rhyme schemes that have brought Chainz such success are present and correct, with bombastic production from Southside and Bangladesh respectively. 'Money Machine' and 'Wut We Doin' follow the same pattern, not exactly reinventing the wheel but sure to delight fans looking thumping, raucous beats.
Lead single 'No Lie' is next up. The Drake assisted track is well chosen, becoming easily the strongest cut on the project. It is important to note that the song belongs entirely to Drake, bringing the energy and charisma that has been sorely lacking since his mixtape days. 2 Chainz effectively becomes a featured artist on his own song, but it is no less enjoyable because of it. A second high profile guest follows immediately after, Kanye West handling production duties on 'Birthday Song' while also dropping by to spit a verse. The track is fun, if a little repetitive, the two artists failing to recreate the chemistry found on recent collaborations such as 'Mercy'. The slinky 'I'm Different' is perhaps the most ironically titled song in hip hop history, but has catchy, subversive piano keys for the MC to push forward his shit talking agenda.
To his credit, Chainz does risk breaking from the formula that has reaped so many rewards. 'Extremely Blessed' featuring The Dream is a nice change of pace, though including R&B tracks catering for females seems slightly absurd for an album that constantly extols the virtues of strippers and hoes. 'In Town' is similarly relaxing, but the Chris Brown featured 'Countdown' becomes a little turgid.
'I Luve Dem Strippers' is by far the poorest offering on the LP. Derivative to the point of inertia, the repetitive, misogynistic content is hardly enlightened by an irritating verse from Nicki Minaj. Though a more serious approach can be found on 'Ghetto Dreams', there are still some severe limitations on show. The track is predominantly an examination of the problems facing the poor neighborhoods the rapper grew up in, but he simply cannot resist throwing in some trite rhymes:
"Used to dream about a bigger couch, woke up in a bigger house/ Commas in my bank account/ So much money, I had to let the banker count."
The refusal to take the subject seriously comes off poorly when compared to an earnest Scarface guest spot. The track demonstrates how, by pushing himself out of his comfort zone, Chainz often comes up short.
Track By Track:
01. Yuck! (feat. Lil Wayne) (6/10)
02. Crack (7/10)
03. Dope Peddler (7/10)
04. No Lie (feat. Drake) (8/10)
05. Birthday Song (feat. Kanye West) (7/10)
06. I’m Different (8/10)
07. Extremely Blessed (feat. The-Dream) (7/10)
08. I Luv Dem Strippers (feat. Nicki Minaj) (4/10)
09. Stop Me Now (feat. Dolla Boy) (610)
10. Money Machine (7/10)
11. In Town (feat. Mike Posner) (6/10)
12. Ghetto Dreams (feat. Scarface & John Legend) (6/10)
13. Wut We Doin? (feat. Cap1) (7/10)
14. Countdown (feat. Chris Brown) (5/10)