Without guest artists, 2 Chainz is the weakest link

Scott Ostrin, Music Columnist

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I was really looking forward to spending the next several weeks yelling “2 CHAINZ!” at people as obnoxiously as possible. I was still naive then, and, while it was only yesterday, it feels like at least days since 2 Chainz could be just a silly joke for me to yell at people. Now, after listening to an hour of 2 Chainz (2 CHAINZ!), it’s anything but.

But I can’t write a preview composed entirely of “2 CHAINZ!” and “SKRT SKRT!” No, because Mayfest’s latest headliner announcement has more than two hours of recorded material for me to slog through. Bless you, Mayfest!

I don’t think I need to go over the teaser on Mayfest’s website as it’s still up, but I think Mayfest can stop calling these reveals “teasers.” Not only was 2 Chainz’ face on the website, but his full name (Tauheed Epps) was, as well as other not-so-subtle “hints.” My friends did note that since it’s not an official reveal, it’s possible that it might have actually been an elaborate trick. So I guess calling it a teaser did give us some false hope that someone better was around the corner.

So let’s actually talk about 2 Chainz. 2 Chainz, formerly known as Tity Boi, got his start with rap duo Playaz Circle alongside friend Dolla Boy.  The two broke the Billboard Top 40 with a song featuring Lil Wayne (a mainstay in 2 Chainz’s repertoire) called “Duffle Bag Boy” in 2007 (lots of boys with this group, I guess?). Since then, 2 Chainz has become a noted solo artist with two recent LPs: “Based on a T.R.U. Story” and “B.O.A.T.S. II: Me Time.”

I don’t want to talk about either of these albums, because they’re bad, so I’ll focus on the singles instead. “No Lie” begins with the usual barks (2 CHAINZ!) and features booming bass and kitschy piano keys. The draw here is Drake, who raps such hard-hitting lines like “She could have a Grammy/I still treat her ass like a nominee.” Damn, man that’s cold. Is Drake bitter at his dearth of Grammys? It’s OK, “Take Care” got its due! Take back your hateful words, Drake!

Next up is 2 Chainz with Yeezus on “Birthday Song,” because Tauheed wants a big boo-tay ho for his birthday (SKRT SKRT) and nothing else. Violins, horns and bass embellish the grandiosity of this simple wish. Is a big booty too much to ask for? I think that’s a question for our philosophy and English departments. Kanye’s verse seems out of place because post-“Yeezus,” Kanye succeeds most when yelling at people who aren’t Kanye. In this song, Kanye’s not really directed at anyone in particular, though. Also, why waste this verse on Kanye of all people?

Last on this triumvirate is “Feds Watching,” featuring Pharrell with production by Pharrell. So the song actually works, which is surprising, because after the last two you would expect Pharrell to fall into the 2 Chainz trap as well. The production is smooth (because it’s Pharrell) but the song fails when 2 Chainz grabs the mic (which is to be expected).

Here’s the takeaway: These songs are saved by their guest stars. Guess who won’t be at Dillo Day? Drake, Kanye, Pharrell and literally anyone else but 2 Chainz (2 CHAINZ!). Songs are repetitive, with gangster posturing, objectifying women, material excess or all three. The production is absolutely laughable, unless you have Pharrell or some other star with credibility. 2 Chainz is really obsessed with being buried in liquor stores, or Gucci stores, or whatever, bludgeoning listeners to death with these lyrics.

Verdict? If you like gangster rap (which I clearly don’t), monotonous lyrics and production and 2 Chainz’s wannabe Jay-Z style, then feel free to be sober and enjoy. I won’t judge you, because I’ll probably be too drunk to care.

Email: scottostrin2016@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @scottostrin22