Release Date: Mar 4, 2016
Record label: Def Jam
The first track on 2 Chainz’s third studio album, ColleGrove, opens with a candid exchange between Lil Wayne and the former Playaz Circle member when he was known as Tity Boi, in which Wayne is trying to get him to leave Ludacris’ College Park label, Disturbing Tha Peace, and join what would become the pride of Hollygrove, Young Money. Wayne’s recruiting tactics weren’t enough to get Tity Boi to jump ship in 2004 but the ensuing three-verse “Dedication” to Weezy F. Baby depicts a fraternal bond stronger than any (Young Money, Cash Money, Republic Records or Universal Music Group) contract.
"If it wasn't for Wayne, it wouldn't be" says 2 Chainz at the beginning of his ColleGrove album, but this is no ordinary 2 Chainz album. ColleGrove could be considered a group or a duo featuring 2 Chainz and Lil Wayne, although Weezy doesn't get an official credit on this release due to label issues and contractual obligations. Still, he's either on, or the subject of, every cut on this surprise album, which was dropped unannounced by Def Jam and comes off as a highly polished mixtape.
There was a moment not all that long ago — maybe summer of 2012, between the releases of Tha Carter IV and Based on a T.R.U. Story — when a surprise collaborative album between Lil Wayne and 2 Chainz would’ve been met with What a Time to Be Alive-levels of excitement. Back then, Wayne’s star was still planetary and he was as much peer as mentor to Drake and Nicki Minaj, regularly charting top-ten hits as a lead artist and selling nearly a million the first week of Carter IV.
2 Chainz and Lil Wayne have been running mates for almost a decade now; following their collaborative 2007 hit "Duffle Bag Boy," Wayne has appeared as a featured guest on every 2 Chainz album, and 2 Chainz has often returned the favor on mixtapes and the 2013 single "Rich as Fuck. " It’s a naturally absurd pairing: At their best, both rappers’ similarly skewed perspective allows them boil down the universe into an endless supply of WTF punchlines. On Juicy J's strip club ode "Bandz a Make Her Dance," for instance, 2 Chainz and Wayne deliver sometimes-head-scratching non sequiturs about their favorite pastime, and it’s representative of their combined cheekiness.
In an age where the most acclaimed Southern rap is the emo Codeine mumblecore of Future and Young Thug, an album that combines two of the brashest wiseasses south of the Mason-Dixon is either an unfashionable oddity or fresh breath of salty Borsht Belt air. There's not a pun too labyrinthine for 2 Chainz and Lil Wayne, no wordplay too tortured. Listening to them together is a mix of laughs, cringes, knee-slaps and stunned silence.
Rap duos in the post-Run the Jewels era are a tricky thing to pull off: now, in addition to the expectation of top-notch projects from two all-star rappers, such works are expected to be available for free.Which makes the out-of-the-blue album from 2 Chainz and Lil Wayne — announced two days prior to its release by Kanye West on Twitter and officially sold as a 2 Chainz album with Lil Wayne features to sidestep Weezy's contract obligations — a little difficult to process.It's very fun. Tracks two through four exhibit Lil Wayne at his best in years. The lively back-and-forth on "Bounce," a strong contender for banger of the year, can only be compared to, you guessed it, Run the Jewels.
When Kanye West confirmed the release of ColleGrove last week, rap fans rejoiced since there would be no more teasing another promised collaboration album that would never surface. The joint project between Lil Wayne and 2 Chainz was first announced by the latter back in November to little assurance from fans. Time and time again, both Weezy and Tity Boi have promised collaboration projects with other artists that end up just being empty promises.
SINCE IT WAS ESTABLISHED that merging two similar artists with a unified collaboration album meant ballooning sales and rabid fan support, rappers have been aiming at working together rather than dismantling ties between one another through needless beef and stubbornness. ColleGrove, the long awaited project from 2 Chainz and Lil Wayne, couldn’t have come at a better time for the two. With both of them well into their 30’s, seeking to reestablish their place in hip-hop as a new generation of Southern slangers was a smart move.