Established rapper experiments with new sound on latest album


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2 Chainz poses with the blimp that announced his new album in February during the NBA All-Star weekend. Metacritic has scored the album 83/100.

Tauheed Epps, better known under the moniker 2 Chainz, released his fifth studio album, “Rap Or Go To The League,” on March 1. The album explores topics like the shootings of unarmed black men and the crippling effect of taxes. The album title holds significant meaning.

“It’s an oxymoron. I wanted to really show people they can do more than have a wicked crossover or be able to hold certain notes,” 2 Chainz said during an interview with The Breakfast Club.

The album title also reflects the misconception that becoming an athlete or musician are the only options for African American boys to acquire success. This idea vaguely appears in Chainz’s early life because he was a basketball player until he was arrested for selling marijuana his senior year of high school. Ultimately, he pursued a career in rap.

Generally, 2 Chainz is not perceived as a strong album rapper. In fact, some view him as an artist who merely releases singles and does a few features. However, “Rap or Go To The League” changes this narrative with its political essence.

This album shows significant growth from his first album due to its substance. Not only are some of the songs tackling issues prevalent in the black community, but he also adds a new sound to his music repertoire with a collaboration featuring Ariana Grande on the track, “Rule the World.” Grande’s melodic voice coupled with Chainz’s signature wordplay makes it  a standout track.

The 14-song album includes collaborations from several big names in the music industry, including  Travis Scott, Kendrick Lamar, Lil Wayne, Chance The Rapper and Kodak Black. Interestingly, Lebron James made his debut as A&R on the album. James worked closely with the Atlanta rapper on selecting which songs would make the final cut, and their order. In fact, Chainz released an exclusive interview with James on Apple Music to accompany the album release. Given James’s love for hip-hop music and his “More Than An Athlete” docuseries, this collaboration was heaven-sent.

The album showcases the evolution of 2 Chainz and introduces his new role as “Uncle 2 Chainz.” After all, he is explaining the perils of the street life to today’s youth. On the first track of the album, ”Forgiven,” Chainz issues a call to action to people who may be living a dangerous lifestyle by saying “I don’t know who need to hear this, but if you’re doing something to make your parents have to bury you, you may wanna slow down. Everything has a consequence, whether good or bad.”

Overall, there is a diverse mix of vibes present on the 54 minute long album. While songs like “Forgiven,” “Threat 2 Society” and “Sam” are meant to evoke deep thought, others like “Money in the Way,” “High Top Versace” and “Statute of Limitations” are the quintessential party songs with easily  digestible lyrics and bass thumping trap beats. “Rap or Go To The League” is currently available on Tidal, Spotify, YouTube, iTunes and more.