Release Date: Aug 14, 2012
Record label: Def Jam
Genre(s): Gangsta Rap, Southern Rap
Tauheed Epps has been around since the Nineties, when he was one half of the Southern duo Playaz Circle. But he recently took up the moniker 2 Chainz, and turned into hip-hop's most promiscuous, and hilarious, guest verse-supplier. His commercial solo debut is packed with A-list cameos and producers, but 2 Chainz commands the spotlight – rapping about success and sex with the irrepressible enthusiasm of the upstart he isn't.
This guy’s a big story in beating rap’s merciless turnover rate. I loved a song by him—Playaz Circle’s “Duffle Bag Boy”—before I or much of his current audience knew who he was. 2 Chainz used to be Tity Boi, an affront to the mainstream if a moniker ever was one. But that didn’t stop me from asking who 2 Chainz was when he started appearing out of “nowhere” on high-profile singles this year.
If there's a reason to cheer for 2 Chainz, it's that the limited but now loveable rapper lifted himself out of a dead-end group (the Sporty Thievz-like Playaz Circle), dropped his awful name (who wants to say they're the world's biggest Tity Boy fan?), and reinvented himself as a welcome character somewhere between the syrup-sipping Pluto and the slang-slinging Pootie Tang, all while rocking True Religion everything (and if the clothing company didn't pay for all this album's product placement, they should send Chainz a box of swag immediately). This devil-may-care style that's right in line with the flash-flavoring landscape of 2012, was refined over mixtapes, street releases, and guest spots, all of it smart preparation for this official debut. Based on a T.
Suddenly ubiquitous rapper 2 Chainz has been making music for a decade, first under the moniker Tity Boi in Atlanta duo Playaz Circle and then as a solo artist who self-released six mixtapes and lent his inane rhyming skills to innumerable singles. His debut LP opens with a succession of trap-rap-influenced club jams that extol the joys of big booties and camel toe and immediately establish him as a purveyor of ridiculous punchlines. It's an album that will be remembered not for its lyrical depth but for 2 Chainz's charismatic delivery and penchant for unexpected vaginal euphemisms in his bedroom breakdowns.
Much like Rick Ross, to buy into the 2 Chainz experience there has to be a certain amount of willingness to buy into the gimmick. The artist formerly known as Tity Boi might feel like a fresh new voice on the goofy side of trap rap, but he’s actually been in the public eye since his guest verses on Ludacris’ Chicken-N-Beer in 2003. That’s a long time for a guy to toil in relative obscurity other than the 2007 Playaz Circle track “Duffle Bag Boy”, a song most casual radio listeners probably assumed was a Lil’ Wayne song if only because his hook was the most obvious reason anyone would listen to the song on their own time.
At this point, the artist formerly known as Tity Boi's unlikely, winding career path has been discussed heavily. The quick rundown: He dropped several albums and one smash hit (which benefited heavily from a peak-era Lil' Wayne hook) as a member of Playaz Circle. He worked as Ludacris' understudy at DTP. He's had his fair share of great music scattered across a career that now touches three different decades of hip-hop history.
Tauheed Epps just may be one of the most overwhelmingly mediocre rappers in the game today, but he’s a damn good business man. Exhibit A: if your old moniker is Tity Boi, you can kiss your dreams of superstardom goodbye. Even if you’ve been performing for over 10 years, even if you’ve helped to establish Playaz Circle as a decent dirty south duo, you can’t expect to get a Burger King licensing deal with a name like “Tity Boi.” So you pick something more family friendly… 2 Chainz? It’ll have to do.
2 Chainz :: Based On a T.R.U. StoryDef JamAuthor: Jesal 'Jay Soul' PadaniaAlbums like "Based On a T.R.U. Story" really make you wonder just how they even come about to existence. Record labels make talented artists jump through hoops to even get signed, let alone get through the development process unscathed.
2 Chainz’s rapid ascent to fame over the past year, which included verses on hits such as Nicki Minaj’s “Beez in the Trap” and Kanye West’s opus “Mercy”, is bewildering. The artist formerly known as Tity Boi had dwelled in the world of obscure mixtapes since the late nineties — what made his rocky flow suddenly attractive to some of pop music’s biggest names? The Georgia rapper’s Def Jam debut, Based on a T.R.U. Story, leaves that question unanswered, as the album is at its best when guests take the microphone and falls short nearly everywhere else.
Chainz's debut album is a triumph on so many levels. For one, six months ago, Mike Will complained that he couldn't land another "Tupac Back." "No Lie," featuring Drake, proves that statement false. On the same front, "Birthday Song" is the long-awaited collaboration between trap producer Sonny Digital ("Racks," "Same Damn Time") and Kanye West, while "Crack" only confirms the notion that Southside has replaced Lex Luger (who's since diversified his sound) as the go-to trap producer in the ATL.