2 CHAINZ - T.R.U. REALigion
A close look at the main rappers in the early 2010's, will show that all were not newcomers. The obvious example, of course, was 2 Chainz. Tauheed Epps had to pass his 30th birthday, indeed, to become a hip-hop figurehead. But prior to this, he had a career. He'd been part of Ludacris' label, Disturbing tha Peace, as one half of Playaz Circle, a duo with his friend Dolla Boy. These two even had some success around 2007, with the single "Duffle Bag Boy", featuring a Lil Wayne in his heyday. After two albums, however, their days came to an end, and 2 Chainz had to reinvent himself as a solo artist. And he did it smartly: he chose a new alias, the previous one, Tity Boi, being a bit embarrassing; he used his address book to collaborate with first-class rappers; and he became one of the ambassadors of trap music, displaying a rather generic kind of it, but in a pleasant and goofy way.
Self-released :: 2011 :: download mixtape
Along with Codeine Cowboy: A 2 Chainz Collective, he had released a few months earlier, T.R.U. REALigion, another mixtape, is 2 Chainz's reference work. It is, actually, better than Based on a T.R.U. Story, the official album he would release later on, in 2012, with Def Jam. Very quickly, judging by this project's guest list, it was obvious that he was now a heavyweight. This project, indeed, another edition of DJ Drama's prestigious Gangsta Grillz series, was produced by the biggest beatmakers of the moment (Mike WiLL, Lex Luger, Southside, Drumma Boy, Fatboi, etc.), and it was supported by people as diverse as Birdman, T.I., Young Jeezy, Yo Gotti, Big Sean, Jadakiss, a few emerging talents like Meek Mill and Kreayshawn, and even, surprisingly, by New-York's Wu-Tang veteran Raekwon.
According to 2 Chainz the late bloomer, his success was due to a concept of his own, he introduced at the beginning of the mixtape: "griming", a mix of hard work ("grinding") and sense of time ("timing"). The first term was illustrated by 2 Chainz's career and perseverance, and the second, by the rather standard sound of his release, and its adequacy to the times and place. The first track, indeed, the great "Got One", was a tribute to Atlanta, while the others were various declinations of its music and style: relentless drums, strident synthesizers, and the inescapable themes of sex, drugs and money, were what this release was made of.
All of this was rather expected, but it fitted 2 Chainz well. With "Undastatement", Lex Luger used with success one of these typical brutal beats that had made him a big name. With "Stunt", 2 Chainz and Meek Mill were having some braggadoccio competition on whirling synthesizers. "Murder" was both violent and burlesque, inclusive of Kreayshawn's contribution. "Kesha" was a nice but politically incorrect love song for bad boys. "Riot" was a banger, as well as the remixed version of "Spend It", with T.I., a track which had been 2 Chainz's passport to success.
The more it banged, the better it was. As demonstrated with the syrupy and boring "K.O.", with Big Sean, and a quieter but much less exciting second half of the mixtape, this rapper needed it loud and fast. He required sounds on par with his juvenile vigor and his exalted big mouth. Under such conditions, 2 Chainz was 2011, and 2011 was 2 Chainz. He was the guy to listen to, years after, to catch the spirit of the times, to fully understand what rap looked like, by these days.
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