On ‘Pretty Girls Like Trap Music’ 2 Chainz sits atop trap throne
2 Chainz, in his current form, burst onto the scene in 2011 with T.R.U. REALigion, an absolute powerhouse of a mixtape that reintroduced 2 Chainz, previously Tity Boi of Playaz Circle, to the hip-hop world.
Ever since REALigion, 2 Chainz has permeated the relevant hip-hop releases, becoming a needed feature on chart-toppers like Kanye’s “Mercy,” A$AP Rocky’s “F*ckin Problems,” and Nicki Minaj’s “Beez in the Trap.”
In 2012 and 2013, 2 Chanz, real name Tauheed Epps, released two more albums, Based on a T.R.U. Story and B.O.A.T.S. II: Me Time.
While both releases displayed a love for acronyms, they felt like extensions of REALigion, mixtapes that were released and marketed like albums with a little more production value.
Story and B.O.A.T.S. both had the requisite bangers, but ultimately there were too many throwaway tracks on either album to consider 2 Chainz as anything more than a great feature who could make a couple hits.
This is often the case after an artist blows up and signs a new record deal. Obviously Epps was a veteran of the industry, but he was still honing his sound as an independent artist with a newly-realized moniker.
After the success of REALigion, 2 Chainz wanted to recreate that vibe of a sort of wildcard trapstar with punchlines and puns for days.
2 Chainz became a sort of cult-like figure. His verses were full of hilarious imagery and references(“might valet park a Brinks truck”) and it seemed as though he was more of a fun dude to throw on a feature as opposed to a serious solo artist.
Any of these concerns were put to rest with 2016’s ColleGrove, a joint album with Lil Wayne, and Daniel Son; Necklace Don were among the best releases of the year.
With the release of Pretty Girls Like Trap Music last Friday, 2 Chainz has solidified himself at the top of the ATL scene.
2 Chainz found his lane, combining elements of trap with a more laid back delivery, differentiating himself from the others in his lane all trying to yell over each other.
Pretty Girls is devoid of the frills and gimmicks of some of the more popular trap releases of late. It is a record grounded in the mid-2000’s trap sound.
2 Chainz is much more Jeezy than Carti or Yachty, which makes sense because of how long Epps has been in the game and the fact that he turns 40 in September.
To that end, “Trap Check” samples “Get Ya Mind Right,” off Jeezy’s Let’s Get It: Thug Motivation 101 and T.I.’s “ASAP,” off Urban Legend, both considered to be seminal records in the formation of the trap sound.
On “Realize,” alongside Nicki Minaj, 2 Chainz shows his opinion of some the younger members of his medium, rapping, “man fuck all that humble shit/fuck all that mumble shit.”
But 2 Chainz is hardly a cranky old man. If anything is clear, on Pretty Girls he’s having as much fun as anyone.
The endless fun and opulence 2 Chainz is surrounded by are perhaps made all the better in contrast with the struggle that he came from, on “4 AM,” he raps, “If it wasn’t for the struggle then I wouldn’t be me.”
2 Chainz was arrested at 15 years old for felony cocaine possession as he’ll tell you on “Door Swangin” he, “had a felony before you knew what a felony was.”
Stylistically, the transition from tracks about Epps’ past struggles to those celebrating his massive success, is a fascinating examination of an artist reckoning with both an unruly past and a moneyed present.
On “Riverdale Rd” 2 Chainz raps over menacing Mike Dean horror movie strings about his upbringing, “You wasn’t there when mama was struggling/You wasn’t there when mama was fussing.”
“Riverdale Rd” leads into “Good Drink,” the lead single off the album, with features from Quavo and Gucci Mane. “Good Drink” chronicles 2 Chainz’s rise out of the trap, “We sit in the kitchen late, we tryna to make an escape/Trying to make me a mil’, so I’ma keep me a plate.”
2 Chainz has made that mil’ so he’s going to enjoy it. On “4 Am,” accompanied by Travis Scott, 2 is getting lit, “4 AM, I’m just gettin’ started/For my birthday I threw me a surprise party.”
Pretty Girls goes from the trap, to the club at 4 am, to what 2 Chainz describes as “yacht music” with perfect expertise.
The yacht music in question is “Bailan” with Pharrell Williams, the requisite Caribbean-influenced track every hip-hop release apparently needs now.
“Bailan” feels like the only moment that Pretty Girls is not pulling all its punches, but then is followed by “Burglar Bars,” which opens with Louis Farrakhan saying of meeting 2 Chainz,
“As I met 2 Chainz a few minutes ago, as I gazed into his face, I felt that I was in the presence of royalty. There’s a certain power presence that he gives off.”
2 Chainz follows up this praise to go on to rap “See my mom was an addict and my dad was the dealer.” The juxtaposition feels intended.
Coming from the struggle to sit-downs with Farrakhan, 2 Chainz is hip-hop, and American, royalty.