Release Date: Sep 10, 2013
Record label: Def Jam
Genre(s): Southern Rap, Hardcore Rap
Don't get it twisted G.O.A.T.-style because those initials on the cover stand for "Based on a T.R.U. Story," a reference to the rapper's debut album, but "best of all time" isn't a bad guess after all because 2 Chainz's sophomore release is one serious step up. That's "serious" as in "significant" since the "METIME" on the cover references to 2 Chainz desire that this album feel like a vacation, and with the greatest hook here being a duet with Fergie that goes "Let's make a sex tape and put it on Netflix," the concept of vacation-on-wax (or mp3) is at the very center of the rapper's comfort zone.
For an artist who reinvented himself and found fame in his mid-thirties through the mixtape scene, the fact that 2 Chainz was able to complete and convince his label to release a second retail album in less than a year is a real shocker. But then I suppose surprises have been Tauheed Epps’ modus operandi in the three years since he began tagging his Tity Boi mixtapes “aka 2 Chainz”, in turn adopting a persona that was less earnest Ludacris weed carrier and more hip hop clown prince. And in the year since Based on a T.R.U.
Quick-hit satisfaction is what makes Atlanta rapper 2 Chainz such a sought-after artist for guest verses, the medium in which he truly shines and in which he has carried out a world-conquering campaign over the past two years. For rap fans and casual radio listeners alike, the deeply accented “Tru!” ad lib or the equally joyous “2 Chaiiiinz” have taken on a Pavlovian quality, signalling the immediate thrill of 16 bars of pure absurdity and dirty jokes. Even when the punchlines don't land quite right, it's impossible to turn away.
Is anyone in music having more fun right now than 2 Chainz? The Atlanta MC has become hip-hop's most irrepressibly entertaining star, and his second LP further displays his knack for playfully hollering about money like he's the first guy who ever had so much paper he couldn't fold it. "Crib so big a dinosaur could run through that shit/I'm a shark and you're a tuna fish," he raps on "Mainstream Ratchet." He tries on some new looks here – the Pharrell-produced, Caribbean-tinged "Feds Watching," the Fergie duet "Netflix," the somber dead-homeys elegy "Live and Learn." But nothing slows down the self-described Black Unicorn's scene-chewing charisma. .
2 Chainz’s second album comes with a cookbook, (shrimp scampi and garlic mash, anyone?) and features Pharrell, Drake and Lil Wayne. The 36-year-old rapper from College Park, Georgia, is going all out. But even though he reckons he’s currently hip-hop’s star “quarterback” (on ‘U Da Realest’), ‘BOATS II…’ is your standard 2013 Southern hip-hop record, complete with ticking beats (‘Extra’), Auto-Tune (‘So We Can Live’) and eye-rollingly explicit lyrics (‘Where U Been?’).
A year after his last full-length came out, prolific purveyor of puerile punchlines 2 Chainz is back with its sequel. The Billboard charts are hardly wanting for trendy strip-club bangers, but the Atlanta emcee's inspired silliness has a way of transcending the onslaught of sexual euphemisms. Mannie Fresh-produced ass-clapping anthem Used 2 is a prime example.
Through the release of what was arguably one of 2011’s better mixtapes, a slew of memorable guest appearances, and a debut album powered by the hit singles “I’m Different,” “No Lie” and “Birthday Song,” 2 Chainz seemingly willed himself into an A-list, mainstream artist. A large part of the appeal was his humor—which allowed him to stand out in an oversaturated marketplace. Sure, there are dozens of mainstream rappers talking about trapping, fornicating, flossing and recreational drug use.
Chainz is all hype. Me Time chronicles a rags-to-riches story, with touches of paranoia characteristic of marijuana users. It's slicker than its predecessor, in terms of production and enunciation of lyrics. "I Do It," a potential single, featuring interwoven verses from Ca$h Money family members Lil Wayne and Drake, ends with a gospel section calling for a little bit of "me time" for the song's helmer — a nice touch.
The cover art for 2 Chainz’s sophomore album explains a lot. The two Cuban links — thick, gleaming, and drenched in symbolism and literalism — aren’t drastically different from the necklaces that made his debut so self-explanatory. But they answer two questions about his new material before you ever hear it: Can a rapper that makes a living off being both outlandishly funny and absurdly simple keep topping himself? Yes.
The first thing to know about the new 2 Chainz album is that the opening song is called “Fork.” The second thing to know is that you probably already know what it sounds like. The beats are typically menacing and orchestral, the hooks are unbelievably catchy, and the verses swing back and forth between laugh-out-loud ridiculous and shake-your-head ridiculous. Basically, it’s 2 Chainz’s first album, part two—exactly what he said it’d be.