There’s no question about it – in a matter of months, G.O.O.D. Music’s 2 Chainz (commonly referred to as TWWWWOOOOO CHAAAAIIIINZZZZZ, or “the artist formerly known as Tity Boi”) has become one of the most talked about figures in hip hop. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing depends on who’s doing the talking though. In fact, outside of Lil B, his might be the most polarizing name in the industry today. It seems like half of hip hop’s fan base can’t get enough of his wild, mindless brand of music, and the other half swears his emergence might just signal the official “end” of a dying genre. With the drop of his first solo studio album, Based on a T.R.U. Story, that argument is probably only going to get louder.
With that said, if you fall into that 2nd group that was just described – the group of 2 Chainz “haters” – it is highly recommended that you don’t turn your radio on, check any hip hop websites, or visit iTunes for a while. While its music admittedly might be tough to defend from a critical standpoint at times, this album is about to be embraced in a big way, and by a lot of different people. The whole album is full of the infectious, catchy, upbeat, and undeniably “accessible” music that has made “featuring 2 Chainz” an extremely common phrase in popular music lately.
From start to finish, Based on a T.R.U. Story, is exactly what any reasonable hip hop fan should expect. While it isn’t necessarily trap music, 2 Chainz’s style is definitely Southern inspired, loud, and simple – never much else. There might be a bit of variety from a production standpoint, but even when he “slows” things down, your speakers will rattle, and your head will probably be nodding. If that’s all you’re looking for in your music, this might be one of your top 5 favorite albums this year. If it’s not, you’d probably claim the opposite. At the risk of “riding the fence”, both of those opinions are completely understandable.
Lyrically speaking, outside of the Scarface feature on “Ghetto Dreams”, this album has absolutely nothing for the traditional hip hop head. If intelligent commentary or witty wordplay is one of the reasons you listen to hip hop, it would probably only take you roughly 40 seconds to figure out that this album isn’t for you. That’s because that’s about how long into the album’s lead track, “Yuck (feat. Lil Wayne)”, you’d need to go to in order hear this exchange from 2 Chainz, “Known to act a donkey on a camel toe/ Then take the camel toe and turn it into casserole”.
It might be close to the start of the album, but that line is about as coherent as 2 Chainz’s lyrical message gets on the whole project. Through all 18 tracks, every single rhyme 2 Chainz comes with is more or less put together the same way – ridiculous, questionable, and sometimes bordering on hilarious. It’s hard to tell if that humor is intentional or not, which can make it tough to take the music seriously, but it is undeniably entertaining.
While he might not ever earn any respect as a lyricist, 2 Chainz, has some undeniable talent as an entertainer though. While many of the words in the rhymes he delivers might be better off being ignored, his actual delivery, “flow”, and cadence is usually solid. He knows how to combine his heavy Southern drawl with even heavier beats to infuse each track with an impossible to deny level of energy.
Unless you’re the most narrowly focused fan of “backpack” or lyrical hip hop, that energy should be enough to help you enjoy at least parts of the album. It’s infectous, and if you’re just trying to kick back and have a primal, unpretentious, and fun musical experience, there should be plenty here to help you accomplish that goal. Just don’t come looking to have your mind stimulated.
However, even though 2 Chainz lacks depth lyrically, he definitely knows how to make up for it with some interesting production and features. The entire collection of the production on this album fits very well with the raw style he exhibits from behind the mic. There is plenty of variety, with everything from the club-friendly R&B inspired “In Town (provided by and featuring Mike Posner)”, to the standout, gospel vocal sampling “Ghetto Dreams (feat. Scarface and John Legend)”, all the way to the traditional trap sound on “No Lie (feat, Drake). But, while the specific aestehtic might be different from track to track, it’s all upbeat, extremely high energy, and immaculately engineered.
To be honest…this album showcases glossy, big budget production at its best. From that standpoint, the biggest criticism is that there are a few production concepts that feel “wasted” on 2 Chainz’s lyrical approach (most notably the vocal loop on “Dope Peddler”), but that will probably be addressed as remixes start finding their way out. When all is said and done, the beats here might even hide a lot of the legitimate criticisms that many place on 2 Chainz’s rapping abilities.
Overall, Based on T.R.U. Story, is not a “bad” album. It does certain things extremely well, and others undeniably terribly. 2 Chainz’s lack of ability to deliver any type of actual message or cohesive thought from a songwriting standpoint definitely holds this one back, and keeps it from being a truly great album. However, this project proves that he’s a great hype man and it will be interesting to see how that translates into G.O.O.D Music’s future work.
Ulitmately, if you’re a fan of larger than life beats, and know better than to take anything too seriously, there will plenty here to make it worth the purchase. However, be ready for a one-dimensional experience that serves three purposes – partying, working out, and bumping at loud volumes. It’s entertaining and fun, but not much else.