2 Chainz T.R.U.ly Earned This No. 1August 22nd, 2012
By Gee King
Good things do come to those who wait, right? In 1997, 2 Chainz, formerly Tity Boi, entered the rap game. Fifteen years later, his solo debut, Based on a T.R.U. Story, will top the Billboard 200 and solidify him as one of the hottest MCs in the game. But how did he get here? The well-timed name change made him commercially acceptable — because Wal Mart would never promote an artist named Tity Boi — but his evolution as an artist was underway long before he became 2 Chainz.
The Atlanta MC’s steady rise from the bottom was the result of years of groundwork put in with stars like Ludacris and Lil Wayne, where he earned the right to stand beside Rick Ross, Drake and Nicki Minaj. But is his current success the happy ending of a feel-good story that proves the virtues of perseverance and patience or is his long-awaited shine the product of something else?
Here and now, 2 Chainz makes sense. In a rap world where doing anything impure with someone else’s girl is universally accepted as the coolest thing you can do, he mentions what he and “your girlfriend” did last night at least once a verse. His beats and hypnotic choruses turn your brain off so you can party (or allow him to scoop your girlfriend from under your arm) and his bars are clever enough to keep you listening, but simple enough to keep your mind in the moment. He’s a charming and laid back character who’s been rapping about sipping lean and popping Molly since before they were ubiquitous and dresses like a stylish alien. No wonder Kanye West wants to be his BFF. 2 Chainz is the coolest 35-year-old on earth right now.
Five years ago, 2 Chainz got his first hit single with “Duffle Bag Boy” as part of the duo Playaz Circle. The Lil Wayne feature was obviously a huge reason for the song’s mainstream success, but there was clearly something different about the lanky MC beside Weezy who looked more like an NBA player than a rapper. 2 Chainz’s overstated flow and designer brand obsession were on full display back then, but few saw them as a sign of things to come. He didn’t make mainstream waves again until 2011, when he changed his name from Tity Boi and dropped his breakout mixtape, T.R.U. REALigon.
The game’s been a wrap ever since. Drake’s on Based on a T.R.U. Story’s lead single, “No Lie,” and Kanye closes tweets about 2 Chainz with five exclamation points. There’s a lot to be said for staying in your lane and remaining your true self, but what else is behind the 2 Chainz phenomenon? Despite the image he presents in his music, he is clearly a bright guy in interviews. Some would say that suggests he’s “dumbing down” his music, but is it really dumbing down if everyone is in on the act? For now, he’s an entertainer giving the people what they want in a way no one else can right now. When they get tired and want something else, we’ll see what he’s really made of.