Picture a house so large a dinosaur could run through it. It had been previously vacated, but was recently purchased just to fuck you in. Usually there are parties rollicking from the mansion, but tonight it’s quiet. Dollar bills litter the floor, so many that it would be impossible to fold them. All the ottomans are left with large butt prints with no hoes to sit in them. All the lights are out, but still there is one man shining. His dreads hang on his designer clothes. He’s tired. He’s invented a new app called iTrap. He’s had a threesome for three weeks in a row. He’s created sex tapes that have been popular on both Netflix and Youtube. But now he has some quiet. No big booty hoes, just him and a pen and paper. He starts writing: last name Chainz, first name Two. He smiles. It’s time for some Me Time.
Yes, 2 Chainz is back with his sophomore album B.O.A.T.S. II: Me Time. For those who don’t know 2 Chainz, just know that you’ve probably heard him somewhere. He has become the feature king, taking Lil Wayne’s vacated throne by killing every guest verse with cornball puns and adding a healthy dose of his unflappable charisma. Following the paths of Wayne and fellow ATLien Gucci Mane, he bludgeoned his way into cultural consciousness one song at a time. All his guest verses allowed him the goodwill and social networking to create a successful major label debut, calling in Drake, Kanye West, Nicki Minaj and others to put him on Top 40 with Based On A T.R.U. Story. Now he’s everywhere, batting cleanup on almost every significant remix (All Gold Everything, U.O.E.N.O.) and powerful enough to create a hit song with a single line (Fuckin Problems, Rich As Fuck). But B.O.A.T.S. II is handily less radio friendly than any of his previous work.
One of 2 Chainz’s greatest assets is his ear and sense of timing. With precision a la late 90’s Jay-Z, he was able to locate trends right before they become overbearing and cliche. “No Lie” used Mike Will Made It and predated the New Atlanta digital weirdness before it took over this year, just as “I’m Different” used DJ Mustard and the L.A. Ratchet scene. It seemed like Mr. Chainz was at it again when he released his first single from B.O.A.T.S II, teaming up with Pharrell for “Feds Watching.” Pharrell is having the summer of his life, singing and producing the two biggest hits of the year (Get Lucky, Blurred Lines), all coated with his sexy lounge singer vibe. This should be a win win, but as fun and breezy as it is, “Feds Watching” didn’t blow up on the radio. That goes for the whole album. It’s a bit too large for radio, as if FM can’t handle 2 Chainz’ puns. A telling moment happens at the end of “I Do It.” The song is probably the most radio friendly on the album with Drake, Wayne, and 2 Chainz all trading bars with admirable chemistry. Then, a gospel choir counts you in and pleads for some Me Time. It’s just one more knuckleball from the Tim Wakefield of rap; you don’t know how he’s pitching so well but he keeps doing it. And B.O.A.T.S. II is a shutout.
2 Chainz created an album that is as otherworldly and ostentatious as he is. The beats really sell it here. They are huge and uncompromising. Tity 2 Necklace got together a gang of underappreciated southern all stars: Drumma Boy, Mannie Fresh, DJ Toomp. Subtlety is not the name of the game as the sounds are a combination of pummeling Trap Rap and the digital blips of the new Atlanta, all injected with PED’s. The songs always veer in strange, awesome directions. The stuttering breakdown in “Netflix,” or the old-school scratching and cutting in “So We Can Live.” 2 Chainz swaggers over all the beats, rapping like Dhalsim stretching out his limbs and breathing fire, always off balance but landing every punch. He shouts out his wrists and his stove on “Fork,” claims to have a plethora of hoes on “Extra,” and tells a dickhead to get testicular cancer (get it???) on “Beautiful Pain.” Now I’m not going to argue that 2 Chainz jokes should put him on the same level as Nas or something, but there is way too much Tity Boi apologizing going on. Stop being ashamed of liking 2 Chainz! The man has a great voice, and the way he twists his words could truly make the dictionary entertaining. And he’s got flow up the wazoo, rapping like the drunken master from kung fu movies (R.I.P. ODB). Check out how he interpolates the “Fuckin Problems” flow on “Used 2,” or the way he languidly sighs onto bonus track “Live And Learn.” He still has room to grow of course. It’d be nice to see a bit more seriousness, which comes in flashes like the story telling on “So We Can Live.” But this is a step in the right direction.
The best moments on the album come toward the end and encapsulate what’s so great about 2 Chainz. Two songs, “Mainstream Ratchet” and “Black Unicorn” (which are the greatest 2 Chainz song titles ever) capture what’s so quirky and wonderful about our Tity Boi. “Mainstream Ratchet” opens with some gregorian chant, giving way to Phantom Of The Opera organs and an Adele from hell vocal sample, before hitting you with a bass line that seems like it was made for a doomsday device. Then 2 Chains shouts “HER ASS SO BIG IT LOOKS LIKE SHE’S TRYING TO WALK BACKWARDS BRUH!” It’s audible beauty and should be played 24/7. It could make my Nana get ratchet. That transitions into a female spoken word piece that opens up “Black Unicorn.” It sounds like it could be found on an old Outkast record. “Black Unicorn” builds upon 2 Chainz ethos that he’s been building ever since he first sipped champagne on an airplane. It’s cool to be weird. It’s what makes “I’m Different” such an anthem. And isn’t 2 Chainz a black unicorn, magical and mystical since the day that he was born? I believe it. It is surprisingly cheesy motto for a rapper who raps about drug dealing as much as he does, but 2 Chainz has always been kind of cheesy. He’s even made a cook book (which is number one on the hannukah wish list right now). I’m giving this album 2 out of 2 chainz, cuban links and all. I hope the radio catches up because we all deserve to hear this bumping out of cars. Now go turn up.