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- Mathew Hannibal
Atlanta's Most Hated No. 8: 2 Chainz
Tity Boi makes his own milky way
"Side Thought: Someone Should Edit BEEZ IN THE TRAP With Just Nicki On It." — @fucktyler, Twitter
In a medium as episodic as hip-hop, rappers who sucked yesterday can have a great second act tomorrow. But 2 Chainz's metamorphosis from lightweight to featured artist in the New York Times has been suspiciously drastic. Before 2011, you were most likely to hear this guy's voice nestled deep in the second half of a Ludacris album. Now, his tracks are in prominent rotation on ESPN. The contemporary acclaim leveled at 2 Chainz — "so evocative," gushed hip-hop critic Tom Breihan — can be hard to brook because he's really no more distinguishable a rapper than he was when people called him Tity Boi. He's not as prone to bed-shitting gaffes (who could forget "I'm so sick I wrote this verse in the hospital" from Theater of the Mind's "Southern Gangsta"?), but you still don't get the sense that he takes any joy in language; he's dutiful and consistently unsurprising. The unsinkable 808s that tinged last year's Codeine Cowboy would've been put to better use by a more animated rapper.
2 Chainz pulled himself up by his own Gucci bootstraps — from Ludacris' sidekick to unsigned hype to Good Music/Def Jam signee — on the strength of his commendable mixtape hustle. While he continues pivoting closer to the mainstream, his music stays true to its bearings, which predate Auto-Tune, Lex Luger, and rap-as-electro. Codeine Cowboy, like fall of 2011 successor T.R.U. REALigion, gives off a certain comfort in its repetition. The ingredients that make up these tracks don't often vary, but find a nice languished groove. Although not as verbal as cohorts like Yelawolf, 2 Chainz has a strong delivery; his matter of enunciation carries the sting of a well-connected uppercut. And his temperament, while deceptively mild, makes clear that he has a hair-trigger bullshit detector. On Kanye West's "Mercy" and Nicki Minaj's "Beez in the Trap," he was the stalwart presence there to balance out his collaborators' eccentricities. It's a role that suits him like a custom chain. — M.T. Richards