Through the release of what was arguably one of 2011’s better mixtapes, a slew of memorable guest appearances, and a debut album powered by the hit singles “I’m Different,” “No Lie” and “Birthday Song,” 2 Chainz seemingly willed himself into an A-list, mainstream artist. A large part of the appeal was his humor—which allowed him to stand out in an oversaturated marketplace. Sure, there are dozens of mainstream rappers talking about trapping, fornicating, flossing and recreational drug use. But the man formerly known as Tity Boi re-emerged as a genuinely hilarious character in the mold of Mannie Fresh during his Big Tymers days.
Based On A T.R.U. Story II: #MeTime represents 2 Chainz attempt to double down on the success provided by the second chapter of his career. But this time around, there are too many times when the attempts at humor fall flat. The album opener, “Fork,” begins with a random exchange between a fictional 2 Chainz (living with his mother) arguing over money left in his jeans. This more or less sets the tone for the sinking conceptual ship that is B.O.A.T.S. II, and things are compounded by a nonsensical hook that features 2 Chainz making screeching sounds followed by a chant of, “Hit it with the fork.” Fans of T.R.U. REALigion and Based On A T.R.U. Story can attest to the fact that both previous projects featured their share of repetition. Tracks such as “No Lie” and “Spend It” were catchy, at least in part, because the hooks were funny and simple without being pedestrian.
Without the laughs or any lyrical pyrotechnics, the listener is left with a bevy of big-name producers whose anthemic output doesn’t always mesh well with 2 Chainz this time around. “Used 2” represents the second tribute to Juvenile’s “Back That Azz Up” in as many years. And while it adds nothing new to the original, unlike Drake’s “Practice,” 2 Chainz does enlist the original Cash Money architect by featuring Mannie Fresh behind the boards. And 2 Chainz pulls off a few successful gambles with his choice of featured guests—be it Fergie of Black Eyed Peas fame (“Netflix”), Ma$e (“Beautiful Pain”) or Chrisette Michele and Sunni Patterson (“Black Unicorn”). But there are few moments when the overly-polished instrumentals are in sync with 2 Chainz’s lyrics. Take “Extra” for example, where Wonder Arillo provides the expected 808 sub-woofer style bass, articulated snare rolls and strings that reach a crescendo. In the rhyme department, 2 Chainz counters with the following:
“Southside I gotta own / The snakeskin on my hat albino / I’m rich like Lionel / I get head like rhino / I’m riding on my rivals / Survival / Bible / Rifle, bullets, and for y’all niggas / I got extra…”
That said, there are moments when 2 Chainz is in rare form with the one-liners: his dope does cannonball dives in the pot (“U Da Realest”), people who look at his pockets are weight watchers (“Outroduction”) and he’ll take your bitch like the dogcatcher (“Mainstream Ratchet”). Additionally, tracks such as “U Da Realest,” and “So We Can Live” lack conceptual focus but offer a refreshing sense of candor hard to find throughout the rest of B.O.A.T.S. II. But the moments when everything comes together, such as the Pharrell-produced “Feds Watching” are too seldom for a coherent, enjoyable album.
By now, most fans should know that 2 Chainz isn’t interested in providing the type of lyricism offered by emcees like Big Boi or Jay Electronica. And those listening to 2 Chainz probably don’t want that from him anyway. Either way, this time around, his formula—catchy hooks, spit-take worthy one-liners and danceable, Top-40 production—suffers from either overexposure or a lack of innovation. As the summer winds down, loyal 2 Chainz supporters and casual fans may enjoy B.O.A.T.S. II: #MeTime as functional, turn up music. But listeners that don’t fall into either of those categories would do well picking up more uniform offerings from similar artists.