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2 Chainz - Based on a TRU Story (Def Jam)

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2 Chainz - Based on a TRU Story (Def Jam)
© Def Jam

Once upon a time, Tauheed Epps (known to you as 2 Chainz) rapped as one half of Playaz Circle. He went by Tity Boi and rolled with Ludacris. Playaz Circle dropped two albums on DTP (Luda's label) in conjunction with Def Jam. The duo's highlight was the trap rap anthem "Duffle Bag Boy," thanks in part to a guest appearance by an in-form Lil Wayne.

In the end, Playaz Circle went nowhere. Tity Boi changed his name to 2 Chainz and started anew. Then, in a unique move, he rebuilt his career by working the mixtape circuit like a newcomer. The clear standouts were 2010's Me Against the World 2: Codeine Withdrawal and Trap-A-Velli 2: (The Residue). Chainz also cranked out collaborations like a mad man, lending a verse to anyone willing to let him rap on a beat, sometimes pro bono. To date, he's logged collaborations with every major Atlanta rapper/rap outfit except OutKast. He took Lil Wayne's pre-Carter III output to a new level in 2011.

2 Chainz had built a cult-like buzz, amassed enviable peer endorsements from Nicki Minaj, Drake, Kanye West and others. The hits kept coming: "No Lie," "Beez in da Trap," "Mercy." He even became an unofficial member of G.O.O.D. Music, with Kanye boasting that he's now charging $100,000 for his rhymes. That's a whole lotta change.

Legend has it that, at one point, 2 Chainz looked outside his window and saw all the planetary bodies aligning in his favor. "No one could possibly blow this opportunity," he muttered to himself. "Not even Charles Hamilton."

2 Chainz proved with his mixtapes and collaborations that you only need marginal talent to build momentum. Quality albums, however, are built on something a bit more substantive.

Sadly, his debut lacks even the slightest veneer of depth and/or variety. 2 Chainz wrote Based on a TRU Story with the smoke-filled club scenes and Atlanta's iconic strip clubs in mind. Story personifies the essence of ATL club-rap, equal parts bouncy beats and lazy rhymes, most of them between 3 and 4 minutes — the average duration of a lap dance. Beyond that dual-lens focus of strippers and drugs, there's not much else to this picture. It's Gucci Mane's fabric, Future's songcraft, in Young Jeezy's trap house.

It's a familiar story. It's been narrated to death by better poets. "Crack," for instance, is about how he turned drug money into a legit hustle. "I Luv Dem Strippers" is about how he loves strippers. "Money Machine" is about...well, you get the point.

It's a motionless piece. It demands nothing and gives nothing back. It is bored and detached and numb and lacking in color. It is hamstrung by monotony ("Crack" and "Dope Peddler" are interchangeable"; Extremely Blessed" and "I Luv Dem Strippers" are the same song). His guests "dumb down" to his level in order to fit in, with both Kanye West and Nicki Minaj supplying career-low turns on "Birthday Song" and "I Luv Dem Strippers" respectively. The-Dream does the heavy lifting on "Extremely Blessed."

Think of 2 Chainz as Atlanta's answer to Mike Jones; he relies on the same one syllable per second rhyme scheme and name-shouting gimmick. 2 Chainz, however, is several inches taller and the more capable dancer of the two.

Based on a TRU Story is the bad rap joke to crown all bad rap jokes. End of story. I hope.

Release Date: August 14, 2012
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