The omnipresent 2 Chainz has released his Def Jam solo debut album, Based on a T.R.U. Story, featuring Drake-assisted single "No Lie," "Birthday Song" with Kanye West and "I Luv Dem Strippers."
Additional guest feature include Cap1, Dolla Boi, John Legend, Lil Wayne, Mike Posner, Nicki Minaj, Scarface and The-Dream.
Based on a T.R.U. Story Album Review
Sure the name switch helped, there’s a 0.0% chance anyone named Tity Boi could ever become a star, and his work ethic is absolutely a factor, but a lot of rappers work hard. What was Chainz secret? We may never know the exact answer, there might not be a single answer, but I think it’s primarily a matter of right man, right time. Like a Darwinian rapper evolved to thrive in 2012, Chainz is eminently internetable. (Yeah, I just made that word up, I hate “viral”.) Chainz constant flood of releases feeds the internet’s constant need for new material and his outsized personality helps him rise above the static. Most importantly, his music is easily digestible, essential in the age of the short attention span, and his hilarious rhymes often border on the absurdly hilarious. He’s a living, breathing, rapping meme.
Marry that internetability to an undeniable street appeal and you’ve got a man whose new album, Based on a T.R.U. Story, is essentially guaranteed some measure of success. There are no surprises on BOATS, no heartfelt odes to his mother, no unexpected guest features, just track after track of screw face beats, crack peddling and an insatiable appetite for foreign cars, seafood and big bootys. Just take lead single No Lie. No Lie sounds exactly like what I would imagine a Chainz and Drake joint would sound like: it’s catchy, Drizzy overshadows Chainz by a shade, and it’s nearly impossible not to nod your head to. By contrast, while Chainz is a much stronger presence on Birthday Song, filling the track with lines that radiate “so basic they’re brilliant” appeal (ex. “She got a big booty so I call her big booty.”). But the track is too loose and the mood to mello; Kanye West may be able to hold completely our attention through tempo changes and beat switches, but not Chainz.
It’s no surprise then that BOATS is at its best when it feels like Chainz is the most himself; which is to say the most unpredictable. His “hot potato” section on Yuck alone is worth a listen and Crack is absolutely and appropriately addictive; this is the kind of turn the volume up, turn your brain off music that Chainz excels with. If there’s an unexpected moment on T.R.U. Story it’s the Tom Lehrer sample on Dope Peddler, but from there the track is nothing but Chainz’ anti-family friendly, stream of consciousness style (seriously, this man really loves him some seafood). If I’m going to listen to Chainz I don’t want anything to get in the way of a good time: not track concepts, not slick guest features and certainly not anything that makes it sound like the man gives even the slightest hint of a f**k.
Unfortunately, BOATS does too much wandering from that core formula to truly hit. This is one of those albums that would have been better off five tracks shorter. Both the Mike Posner assisted In Town and the Chris Brown fueled Countdown feature far too much romance for my taste. I understand the need for a ladies jam on a major label album, but what happened to “I take ya wife, give her back, 9 months after that, Similac”? That’s the Chainz we all want to hear. And frankly I’d prefer to pretend like the acoustic Weeknd sample on Like Me never happened. Like chocolate and mayonnaise, some things just don’t mix.
So no, Based on a T.R.U. Story isn’t a great album, but was anyone expecting a great album from 2 Chainz? Would we even want one? Some music is made to change your life, to change the way you view the world, and some music is made to be entertain. In the internet age 2 Chainz is perfectly engineered to entertain the hell out of us, and for that we salute him. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go eat some crab legs in a foreign whip.
DJBooth Rating - 3 Spins