'Rap or Go to the League' : 2 Chainz - Album Review


On his first studio album in two years, 2 Chainz is as lyrically realized as ever - painting an airtight picture of the paradox between stepping onto a court or stepping into a recording studio. With help from Lebron James as A&R, Tauheed Epps masterfully cultivates 14 tracks that, without a shadow of a doubt, will stand the test of time as his most complete body of work to date.


8.4/10

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On the opening seconds of "Forgiven", Rap or Go to the League's intro track, we are given a snippet of what seems to be a high-school announcer's introduction of their basketball team's starting five.


And we'll introduce you to the starting lineup

We're gonna introduce now the North Clayton Eagles

Coached by James Gwynn

His starters, number 21, Tauheed Epps


From the jump, 2 Chainz wastes no time painting an initial mural of the struggle that exists throughout his newest project - a duality that many young African Americans face.


Tauheed Epps (better known as 2 Chainz) was a very solid high school basketball player. So solid, in fact, that he had various opportunities to play at a number of smaller schools.


Based on this albums title, however, it should be quite evident which path he took.


On Rap or Go to the League, however, 2 Chainz ponders his life choice. Like the famous Robert Frost poem, Epps took the less obvious road - a road that, at the time, seemed to be a greater challenge given his athletic prowess.


That's essentially what this album is - a compilation of life choices by one of the most polarizing personalities in modern rap music.


On "Threat 2 Society", 2 Chainz reflects on his life in the hood, having to hustle/cope with tragedy as an adolescent in the streets. 9th Wonder murders the beat, pulling a sample of "So Good To Be Alive" by The Truthettes. Besides a few other tracks, "Threat 2 Society" sits up near the top for me.


"High Top Versace", the album's 5th track, is more of a flex than a reflection. The star of this song is Young Thug, who raps over a beat that was undoubtably tailor-made for him (i'm not kidding, it's literally a perfect combination). ATL Jacob's uncanny ability to mold an artists style into a beat is what makes "High Top Versace" so special, a track that is sure to see radio-play in the future.


No song on Rap or Go to the League is as unorthodox to 2 Chainz's style as "Momma I Hit a Lick" - as he and Kendrick Lamar change pitches like it's a right of passage over two fantastically structured verses. At one point, 2 Chainz is spitting like always... The next? He's tearing through the beat, sounding like Mickey Mouse in the cut. Perhaps no song is as well balanced, yet creative as this on the project as a whole.


*Kendrick killed it as well, but honestly... what did you expect?


To be fair, I went into "Rule the World" prepared to get pissed off.


Why, you ask?


Two words: Ariana Grande


Look, it isn't that I dislike the super-ultra-mega pop star, but last year left a bad taste in my mouth (and no, i'm not talking about Mac Miller - I would never put that on her). While you can't deny her vocal talent (truly a mixture of Fergie and Jesus), her fans are particularly adept at grinding my gears. For this reason, I struggled to let my personal bias overcome my impartial, journalistic ear.


Upon listening, I came to an immediate verdict: this song is great.


Ariana Grande's ability to mix slang-esque speech with angelic melodics is uncanny, and 2 Chainz feeds off her vocal energy with ease. "Rule the World", a collaboration between two superstars in their field, feels eerily similar structurally to Nas and Ms. Lauryn Hill's collaboration on "If I Ruled the World".


Am I saying it's as good? Hell no... but it blaze a trail straight to the Billboard Top 10 - this time, however, deservedly.


Ok, time for my favorite song - and it's not even close.


"I Said Me" is a testament to everything this album symbolizes: keeping it real, the trap lifestyle, difficult choices and ultimate triumph. 9th Wonder's sample of "Favorite Things" is so addicting it hurts, but when that beat drops, it's hard not to picture 2 Chainz sitting on a diamond-encrusted throne - as he comes through with a plethora of bars smoother than a stick of butter in June.


Last, but certainly not least, is "I'm Not Crazy, Life Is" - the album's second to last track. The reason I wanted to speak on this particular record isn't the production, or even 2 Chainz and the oddly featured Kodak Black (although I will say he did well with his verse)...


It's Chance the Rapper.


Allow me to display his verse in full:


I met my BM when I was 9 I had a hunch back then but I took my time I told 'em Trump was gon' win, they said, "You lyin’" I seen a whole bunch of signs, I didn't sign 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 I'm like a fortune teller, Orson Weller More developed Shark Tank idea, I'm an orca whale, an ocean dweller Freer than an open letter, I connect the polka dots They just gon' say conspiracy, haters gon’ say it's photoshopped


Just read it.


Wow.


If you don't think Chance is bringing his biggest guns this July, you are sadly mistaken.


The way I see it, 2 Chainz and Tauheed Epps were both on this album. Like the title suggests, this project is about choices.


Fortunately for us, 2 Chainz chose a few things.


He chose to rap, and better yet,


he chose to rap well... like really, really well.


You, the reader, now have a choice - especially those of you who haven't given Rap or Go to the League a gander: to listen or not to listen.


If you're asking me, the choice is as clear as 2 Chainz message on his newest project...


Turn this shit up.



-Carter Ferryman-


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