2 Chainz has been one of the most consistent and well connected Hip-Hop artists ever since he broke through and changed his name from Tity Boi in 2011/2012. From doing high profile features to creating hit songs to having his own TV show to even (recently) having his own Super Bowl commercial, 2 Chainz has had a lot of successful.
But I don’t think the success has translated to his albums. Not saying that his past album were bad but they weren’t great either. They all contained songs that had impact but they played more like playlist than unified projects.
And that leads us to 2 Chainz’s fifth studio album, Rap or Go to the League. Not only does this connect to Chainz’s past as a basketball athlete it also led to the rapper bringing in LeBron James to A&R the project (Judging from the full companion Apple Music video of LeBron and 2 Chainz, A&R means listening the project after it’s almost done).
So will Rap or Go to the League be 2 Chainz’s best album? Let’s find out.
Featuring Marsha Ambrosius; Produced by Dem Jointz
I was surprise on how serious 2 Chainz came on the first song on the album. The main bulk of the song deals with the death/murder of his friend’s son (and fellow rapper) Lil’ Fate. It’s feels heavy for 2 Chainz but after watching the aforementioned video with LeBron James, this seemed to have been done on purpose; to let the listeners know this is a different album from 2 Chainz.
I’ll also point out that everything here is extremely well produced. This includes the intro including a clip from one of 2 Chainz’s high school games, the Marsha Ambrosius hook, the Jay-Z “Lucifer” sample over a slow bass heavy instrumental, and the woman speaking poetry at the end about Black men. Great start to the album
2. Threat 2 Society
Produced by 9th Wonder
Speaking of Jay-Z, it was revealed by 2 Chainz on an episode of The Breakfast Club that he wanted to get Hova on this track (He also mentions it on the song: “This beat hard enough to put Jay on”). I’m sad that didn’t happen not just because that’s one of Chainz’s bucket list items, but both rappers would have sounded great together over this 9th Wonder track that heavily samples The Truthettes “So Good to Be Alive”.
That’s not to say that this isn’t a good with just 2 Chainz verses. It’s still a standout on the album. It deals with going from selling drugs and everything terrible that comes with that (“Like sold my mom drugs”) to being able to have a great life with is wife and kids (“My yard too big to put a rake on it/But I got the Cullinan and the Wraith on it”).
3. Money in the Way
Produced by Jabz & Buddah Bless
This was initially one of the songs I really liked off the album. I still like it but the music video was so boring I had to take some points off.
I still like the horn heavy production as well as the flow 2 Chainz used:
You still gettin’ their hair done, I’m on the tummy tuck (Hah)
Yeah, I’m 2 Chainz, I’m known to double up (Double up)
In the double R with a double cup (Double cup)
Yeah, double parked at the W (W)
This is still a good song but it probably shouldn’t have been a single.
4. Statute of Limitations
Produced by 30 Roc
Okay. This is by far my favorite song on Rap or Go to the League. It’s basically 2 Chainz rapping about who he used to sell drugs to back in the day. These people include everybody from Lil Wayne, Jeezy, and even Allen Iverson:
McDaniel Street, I had a bag full of bombs (Bombs)
South Side nigga, I used to serve Lil Jon (Jon)
On Godby Road I shot dice with Troup (Troup)
Hit the D mall and then I served Big Unk (Unk)
Anytime 50 came to town I served Buck (Buck)
Anytime the Sixers played the Hawks I seen Chuck (Chuck)
Had a half a ticket ‘fore I met with Def Jam
Ask Chris and 20 who was the X-Man
And while these lyrics show off 2 Chainz’s effortless flow, it’s the beat that grabbed me. It samples/remakes one of my favorite songs from back in the day, “Couldn’t Be a Better Player” by Lil Jon & The East Side Boyz with Too Short. Besides evoking memories of me doing stupid shit in Atlanta, it’s just a dope sample.
I also been repeating “See I can run a check up, and you just run your lip” all week so there’s that too.
5. High Top Versace
Featuring Young Thug; Produced by ATL Jacob
The feel of “High Top Versace” immediately feels out of the place. I understand it though (2 Chainz does in fact have a high top shoe he made with Versace). The production and the Young Thug feature feels generic and outdated at the same time. Chainz had a few lines that stuck out (“When I marry Keisha, only time I’m gonna settle”), but I’ll pass on this one.
Featuring Travis Scott; Produced by WondaGurl & Mike Dean
I’ll admit ahead of time that I’m not the biggest fan of Travis Scott. This is even more when he does feature. How comes when Travis Scott jumps on somebody else’s song it (most of the time) turns into to mediocre Travis Scott song? Meh. Next.
Produced by Da Honorable C.N.O.T.E.
I don’t think “NCAA” does anything special but it kinda grew on me mostly of the strength of 2 Chainz rapping stuff like “I use good pussy like it’s lotion” or “I’m playin’ with the clit like a guitar”. Plus the whole thing goes with the Rap or Go to the League theme.
Also, while it’s not a song about the plight of the student athlete in college , 2 Chainz drops a few lines about the subject:
Manziel had the highest sellin’ jersey
Bron moved back to Cleveland
Drake made a song ’bout him
Man, he ain’t even workin’
Play this one before the game and at halftime.
8. Momma I Hit a Lick
Featuring Kendrick Lamar; Produced by Pharrell Williams
To many this is probably the most anticipated track on Rap or Go to the League; the Kendrick Lamar featured and Pharrell produced “Momma I Hit a Lick”. And for the most part it delivers. Don’t expect a bar heavy song. Over
Skateboard Station Wagon P’s trademark sound, you get Tity Boi and K.Dot choosing a stylistic flow, but with good results.
The history of this track is interesting as it went through many changing during the creation from having a Kanye West hook to a Travis Scott hook to Swae Lee hook, to finally just ending with Chainz and Kendrick on the chorus. Even after knowing that, this feel like it could’ve been on The Black Panther soundtrack. All it needs now a Dave Meyers directed music video.
9. Rule the World
Featuring Ariana Grande; Produced by Hitmaka, Cardiak, Paul Cabbin, & Rob Holladay
Props to 2 Chainz for getting the most followed woman on Instagram (and a huge pop star) for a feature. Maybe they just traded features as 2 Chainz was featured on the remix of “7 Rings” (The original version sounded like 2 Chainz’s “Spend It” and the music video bit his Pink Trap House concept, but let’s not go down that rabbit hole).
I like “Rule the World” and I wonder why nobody else has flipped/sampled Amerie’s “Why Don’t We Fall in Love” before. The song turns out to be a serviceable pop song and checks all the boxes. Don’t be surprised if it catches steam and does numbers.
10. Girl’s Best Friend
Featuring Ty Dolla $ign; Produced by Cardo & Dez Wright
I remember that this song was released with “Hot Wings” last year as a sorta EP and I quickly forgot about it meaning that I wasn’t that into it. I will admit that it’s better here as it’s makes more sense as an album track than a single. It probably goes in the club too. Also, am I the only one who is getting tired of Ty Dolla $ign? Maybe I’m just a hater.
Speaking of songs released before the album, where the hell is “Bigger than You” featuring Drake & Quavo? I didn’t love that song either but that shit at least went Gold. 2 Chainz left some album sales on the table.
11. 2 Dollar Bill
Featuring E-40 & Lil Wayne; Produced by GYLTTRYP, Terrace Martin, & Mustard
2 Chainz goes to the west coast, grabs Lil Wayne on the way there, and connects with DJ Mustard and E-40. I’m not an expert in Bay Area Hip-Hop but I figure this is an attempt to recreate that (Not saying it didn’t achieve it. I’m not an expert). The appearance of E-40 and the hook provides proof (Although it also reminds me of “I’m Different“):
I’m rare, I’m rare
I’m rare, I’m rare
I’m rare, I’m rare
I’m rare, I’m rare
On that Apple Music video, it seems like this was A&R LeBron’s favorite track as he danced, sung the chorus, and sipped wine when it came on. Is LeBron from Oakland?
I don’t mind this song at all. It’s catchy enough to leave it in my iTunes even if it’s not necessarily my thing.
12. I Said Me
Produced by 30 Roc & Dat Boi Squeeze
A few sampling notes to get out the way:
I already mention Ariana Grande’s “7 Rings”. That song also sample “My Favorite Things”. “I Said Me” also does too.
It also samples Lonnie Liston Smith’s “A Garden of Peace” which is most famous for being sampled on Jay-Z’s “Dead Presidents”.
So you basically have 2 Chainz spitting some dope bars (“Yeah, my daughter asked me what a drug dealer was, I said me”) over “Dead Presidents”. Yes. I’m all for this.
Teriyaki on my portobello
So many rides at the house look like a fender bender
Slept on the futon, I know hard remember
I ain’t have no work done like Kendall Jenner
Even though this was already done recently by Meek Mill on “Respect the Game”, I still applaud it (I also feel “I Said Me” sampled “A Garden of Peace” better).
13. I’m Not Crazy, Life Is
Featuring Kodak Black & Chance The Rapper; Produced by FKi 1st & Mike Dean
I initially thought this song was boring on first listen. But it grew on me and a slow paced serious song is needed to show diversity on the album. I also liked all the verses by all the rappers involved (Even Kodak Black’s), but Chance The Rapper probably has the best one:
I told you empty your pockets before you took my charger
I told you they wasn’t solid before you took them charges
Trademark the three and then market to moms in supermarkets
Taraji P said don’t leave after I won the Best New Artist
This is a track worth keeping. I probably won’t play it much but I appreciate it.
Produced by B Clark
“Sam” automatically does two things right in my book: It samples UGK’s “Hi-Life” and personified the United States government as a crook.
But the main problem is the slow paced “Sam” feels a little off to be the album closer. Especially with the outro that has Chainz recallng talking to Diddy about the amount of taxes they have to pay. I’m broke so I could care less and it didn’t resonate with me. But I guess that’s the life of 2 Chainz.
And that’s the end of Rap or Go to the League.
While 2 Chainz has released albums in the past that contained bigger/popular songs (Although since this album was just released as of the writing of this review, we don’t know for sure), Rap or Go to the League is his best album so far. It’s a cohesive project that also shows more sides of 2 Chainz. It’s also provide even more content over the mostly party and trap heavy themes of past albums.
I’m also happy that 2 Chainz didn’t drop a 20 track album (I wonder if Rap or Go to the League was originally suppose to be one of last year’s 7 track Kanye West produced albums?). And while it’s only has 14 tracks, I would’ve been cool if it’s was 12 or even 10; Songs like “Whip” or “High Top Versace” doesn’t really add anything. A&R LeBron should have caught this.
Still, Rap or Go to the League is a great outing that flows wells and reveals more about 2 Chainz. There are also some pop as well as straight Hip-Hop songs, so the album covers a spectrum of what the rapper can do. 2 Chainz should be happy with Rap or Go to the League. Not only because of it being a good project but because it’s more proof he made the right choice between athlete, drug dealers, or rapper. True.