2 Chainz – B.O.A.T.S. II: Me Time [Review]

B.O.A.T.S. II-Me Time

2 Chainz may be one of the best examples of the saying you can’t keep a good man down. Because boy did it seem like life was really trying to. After years of a stop and go career as one half of the Disturbing tha Peace duo Playaz Circle, the man formally known as Tity Boi did a complete makeover and transformed into the swagged out trap rap guru you see today. After an impressive run of mixtapes and guest appearances many predicted the Cocaine Cowboy wouldn’t have anything left for his first official solo project; last year’s Based On A T.R.U Story. Yet, three Gold selling singles and a Gold selling album proved the haters wrong.

2 Chainz hopes to build on his amazing 2012 with his sophomore effort B.O.A.T.S II: Me Time. With so many expectations can he do it? Read and find out.

1. Fork
Produced by Mike Will Made-It & P-Nasty
For some strange reason we open the album with a fictional conversation between 2 Chainz and someone playing 2 Chainz’s mom. He accuses her of taking money out of his pants pocket while he was asleep. He then proclaims on the hook that he had a dream that rap didn’t work and now he’s going back to the streets. Which is weird because we know that rap actually DID work for 2 Chainz and he’s living pretty well because of it. This would’ve made more sense as the opener to his debut album. Mike Will Made-It gives us a menacing trap beat for 2 Chainz to spit over. Not a bad song, but pretty underwhelming for the beginning of one of the more anticipated albums of the year.

2. 36
Produced by Crack King
2 Chainz is really making sure we’re aware of his dope selling credentials, as he breaks down how many ounces are in a brick. It’s fitting that the producer’s name is Crack King as, just like the last track; we get the trap rap backdrop, this time with synths and a piano loop. At right under a minute and a half, this is more of an interlude for the next track.

3. Feds Watching
Featuring & Produced by Pharrell
This is the first single from the album that came out back in June. Pharrell has been grinding this summer and laces a seasonal anthem for 2 Chainz. This definitely has a summertime feel. Three tracks in and 2 Chainz is still sticking to the crack rap. While Chainz has never been shy about his d-boy pedigree, he works better working with a style over substance ethos. Personally, I don’t need to believe 2 Chainz was actually on the street for his gimmick to work; I just want him to find new and funny ways to say why he’s cooler than everyone else. This song is a hit, and the catchy hook and breezy beat will keep it on the radio for a while, but I’m still not getting the 2 Chainz I’m used to.

4. Where U Been?
Featuring Cap-1; Produced by Mike Will Made-It
Now THIS sounds like the 2 Chainz we’re used to! Wacky braggadocio mixed with borderline absurd lyrics that you just can’t help but appreciate. 2 Chainz is hitting on all cylinders as he lets everyone know that he’s been stacking paper:

Gucci hat (Gucci hat), Gucci belt
If you wrote a autobiography you’d have to sue yourself
You lying ass, codeine in my wine glass
I know you had a wild past, I ain’t fucked you in a while with your wild ass
I get high and I fly past, I don’t know nothing ’bout iChat
I work in this iPhone they need an app called iTrap
I trap, shining like a night night lamp
I just hit my girlfriend and asked her where her wife at (tell ’em)
White cup, white hat, laying on a white couch (Tru)
Got that presidential and a residential white house
Nigga saying “who?” (who) like a white owl
You can see me shinin’ (shinin’) with the light out

2 Chainz is in his zone on this one, which is why I kind of hate the Cap-1 feature. It’s not terrible, (although I hope rapping like like those “Versace” dudes isn’t becoming a new trend) but after his two most solid verses on the album I wanted to see the Cocaine Cowboy finish out strong.

5. I Do It
Featuring Drake & Lil’ Wayne; Produced by D. Rich, Diplo, & Wonder Arillo
Looking at the line up of rappers on this song, it’s crazy to think that Weezy is the third hottest rapper on the song. But that’s a story for another article. The trio of producers creates a sinister sound that by now has become another anthem for the hustlers and stunters. Everyone brings their A-game, and with all the talk (and evidence) of Wayne falling off lately, it’s truly a thing of beauty to hear the chemistry between the Young Money labelmates as they seamlessly trade some back and forth bars. As the song closes we get an acapella of a quartet singing. This could have killed the momentum the last two songs had built, but it’s harmoniously ratchet and fits with 2 Chainz’s personality, so it works.

6. Used 2
Produced by Mannie Fresh
I don’t know how many times 2 Chainz and Mannie Fresh have worked together before, but they need to do at least ten more songs. Mannie’s synths and drum patterns match up perfectly for 2 Chainz to spit that ratchet. He pays homage to the Hot Boyz and spits in a “Back Dat Azz Up” cadence:

Yeah I’m the nigga yeah, don’t forget it yeah
Gold neck Tity yeah, Lamborghini yeah
Man in my city yeah, they call me Tity yeah
Bad bitch with me yeah, [?]
Got her hair fixed yeah, kinda thick yeah
Shawty known to strip yeah, for the rent yeah
Tryna do a split yeah, oh shit yeah
Can you do a split yeah, on a dick yeah
You can’t do it with a dick, can you?
You can’t do it like that with a dick, can you?
You can’t do it with a dick, can you?
You can’t do it like that with a dick, can you?

The Too $hort reference is just icing on the cake. The twerkers will certainly appreciate this one. I can see some YouTube videos being made off this one. Hopefully Miley Cyrus doesn’t get her hands on this. Either way, it needs to get spins in the strip clubs.

BOATS 2 Review

7. Netflix
Featuring Fergie; Produced by Da Honarable C.N.O.T.E., Diplo, & DJA
No you didn’t read that wrong, I don’t know what the hell Fergie has been up to but she not only hops on a 2 Chainz track, she actually out- 2 Chainz 2 Chainz! Don’t believe me? Check it out:

When I die, bury me inside the liquor store
Cause when I die, Fergie still gon’ be gettin’ dough
You do what you can, I do what you can’t
You smoke that Bobby Brown, we on that Shabba Ranks
I got it, you want it, you want it, I got it
My girls go shopping, that ain’t a mall, that’s my closet
So copy, copy, all these bitches just copy
Honor student wit’ double Ds, that ain’t the bra, that’s my ta-tas

2 Chainz isn’t completely out done, as he has some really hilarious lines here, like “I’m gettin’ to the monies with an apostrophe/Fucked her on a pile of clothes now she a closet freak” and , “You can tell that I’m paid cause I’m high-class/Fucked a bitch in her eyelashes”. Give it to him, only 2 Chainz could make a song about putting a sex tape on Netflix, with Fergie no less, and make it work. Now that’s confidence. I actually think this would make a great video, but I feel like the Netflix name may be hard to clear with the company.

8. Extra
Featuring Rich Homie Quan; Produced by Wonder Arillo
After four bangers in a row the album hits a speed bump here. Wonder Arillo brings some nice strings and a cool drum loop, but 2 Chainz’s slow, drawn out flow to at the beginning of his verses makes me lose interest. Mr. Make You Feel Some Type of Way, Rich Homie Quan, shows up here and is mildly amusing, but this song has too many low points to come out on top, even after an inspired verse by 2 Chainz to close the song out. It also doesn’t help that I thought 2 Chainz was saying ‘asthma’ instead of ‘extra’ in the hook.

9. U Da Realest
Produced by Drumma Boy
Like most rappers, 2 Chainz can’t resist the urge to let us know how “real” he is. Before the track starts we hear a preacher telling his congregation to be ready and not to make excuses. I guess this is 2 Chainz prepping us to hear how real he is. This is where 2 Chainz faces his biggest issue. He’s clearly trying to convey a more serious message on this song, but he’s too goofy to carry it through. Drumma Boy’s beat can’t be called somber, but it’s trying to set a more earnest tone. Yet 2 Chainz can’t help but shoot himself in the foot with silly lines like, “I died in her cervix, Chicken’s, no churches”. We also get an outro about guys questioning someone’s (I’m guessing 2 Chainz) street cred. Give 2 Chainz points for trying to switch it up, but this one misses the mark.

10. Beautiful Pain
Featuring Lloyd & Ma$e; Produced by Da Honorable C.N.O.T.E
We stay on the serious tip, or at least we do in terms of sound and the hook. I honestly have no clue what the hell 2 Chainz is talking about. I thought he was going to try and relate to the issues that women face, but clearly I am asking too much. Plus his flow is terrible here as he tries to sound exasperated to add weight to his words, but he just sounds out of shape. Ma$e shows up out of nowhere to get a check..er I mean, to add some wisdom, which he does, but this track is still a mess, even with Lloyd’s nice crooning. I applaud 2 Chainz for trying to be different (see what I did there?) but he just doesn’t sound comfortable trying to be sincere. Skip this one unless you’re just in the mood for some mid-90’s Bad Boy nostalgia.

11. So We Can Live
Featuring T-Pain; Produced by J.U.S.T.I.C.E League & DJ Monty
At this point I’m starting to feel like this record had A LOT of A&R input. This just doesn’t sound like 2 Chainz. Introspective and heartfelt are two things that 2 Chainz just doesn’t do well. While T-Pain gives him his second straight soulful hook, he just doesn’t seem to know where to go with it. The hook and title suggest that the song is about trying to convince a woman to stay through criminal activity because that’s the only way that they can make it. Surprisingly, 2 Chainz actually delivers a more humble verse to start the song off, but the next two verses just go back to stunting. All three verses are actually pretty good, but they sound disjointed. You can’t just throw random 16’s together and call it a song, at least not on a proper album. J.U.S.T.I.C.E League comes through with a very Rick Ross-ish beat which sounds great and transitions into an even doper beat by the third verse. I just wish could stay focused enough to see a concept all the way through.

12. Mainstream Ratchet
Produced by Big Korey & DJ Montay
It took awhile but 2 Chainz finally goes back to his bread and butter; being ratchet! Not only does he bring the ignorance, but Big Koray & DJ Montay create an anthem sounding track that feels tailor made for 2 Chainz’s brand of crass. It’s not as great as the middle portion of the album, but it’s clear that 2 Chainz is back in his comfort zone.

13. Black Unicorn
Featuring Sunni Patterson & Chrissette Michelle; Produced by DJ Toomp
Really 2 Chainz, spoken word?!? Why?!?! Credit to 2 Chainz, the man is persistent if nothing else. Toomp crafts a mixed bag of synths, drums and a guitar riff here and there as 2 Chainz details his ascent to the top. I had to keep myself from laughing when he said he could lyrically be Talib Kweli, but hey, I’m glad dude has confidence. I’m not gonna hate too hard because that’s not what I go to 2 Chainz for, just like I don’t go to parties wanting to hear Talib. Everything has it’s time and place. Speaking of place, either this song should have been before “Mainstream Ratchet” or “Mainstream Ratchet” needed to be before “Extra”. Bad sequencing strikes again. We also get an outro of a little girl talking about loving her family. I get 2 Chainz trying to personalize the album with this, but the results are really a mixed bag at best and confusing at worst.

14. Outroduction
Produced by Streetrunners
We finally reach the end of the album and we actually get a great example of repetition paying off. After five songs of trying to sound sincere, we actually hear 2 Chainz not only sounding genuine, but he carries the subject matter throughout the entire song. This actually sounds like what “Black Unicorn” should’ve been. 2 Chainz talks about his family, believing and not believing in himself, bad decisions, going from broke to rich and criminal activity, all in convincing fashion without sounding contrived. It’s almost infuriating because this 2 Chainz should’ve been present on earlier songs. Either way, we get a strong close to the album.

Bottom Line:
“And if I ain’t arrogant, I’m out of my element” ~ 2 Chainz, “So We Can Live”

I doubt that 2 Chainz was aware that he was summing up his album, on said album no less, with that line. But it’s 100% true. 2 Chainz, for all his entertainment, still has a very limited skill set. He’s a swag rapper. When he’s trying to be serious, or display nearly any emotion other than confidence he sounds lost. He just doesn’t have the focus to carry out a cohesive song. He works best in catchy punchlines and funny adlibs.

What is most ironic is that it appears 2 Chainz  possesses the self awareness to realize that brag rap can only take him so far, especially as more and more rappers are trying to follow that blueprint. It’s commendable that 2 Chainz tries to add some new tricks to his act and experiment with some new sounds and topics, but unless he’s willing to take the time to hone his craft and pay as much attention to the substance as he does the BS, he’s destined to fail.

There’s no telling how long 2 Chainz can stay on the top with his current brand, but unless he can truly evolve, he needs to just ride his style out ’til the wheels fall off, because, at least for now, it’ll keep taking him to the bank.