Ball players want to be rappers. Rappers want to be ball players. The entertainment industry has been like this for decades. You see the big name rappers courtside at the biggest games and you hear rappers mention the star athletes in their songs all the time. It is a cycle that is never going to end and it makes for great entertainment. What we don’t see a lot of is the ball players who make a successful career out of the music industry. Several have tried but to no avail. Then you have artists like Cam’ron, J. Cole, Dave East, and 2 Chainz who all could have played professionally but decided that a studio better suited them. We’re not here to debate who’s the best former hooper to make music, but if that conversation existed then we would have to examine the longevity of 2 Chainz’s career and how he has captured a second wind in music thanks to his latest effort, Pretty Girls Like Trap Music.
2 Chainz’ run doesn’t begin with PGLTM. It’s more so the culmination of the last three years of guest features and mixtapes that have set the stage for his prestigious third album. He’s become the cool uncle that you want to hang out with at all of your family gatherings, the one who tells you stories and gives you shots of alcohol while your parents aren’t looking. Hearing 2 Chainz tell stories about the trap, wild nights of fornicating with multiple women, and being slept on not only embody the DNA of this album but also who the ATLien is as a person. He tells these stories in comedic fashion yet there’s a layer of truth beneath these lines.
‘4AM’ feat. Travis Scott sees Tity Boi begin the first album single in this fashion: “4am I’m just gettin’ started/for my birthday I threw me a surprise party/reminiscing about the trap playin’ the first Carter/my life changed when I had my first daughter”. The pop-trap production bangs in your headphones as 2 Chainz tells his story, trying not to make you feel sorry for the things he’s had to endure to get to this point of success. There are more pieces of the album that sound like this, including the Swae Lee featured ‘Poor Fool’. The Mike Will Made-It produced track sees 2 Chainz get personal in a way we’ve never heard from him to date. He does a great job of masking these songs with catchy punchlines (“smokin’ on a yacht/call me Ricky Steamboat”) but it’s once you discover the layer beneath that you begin to appreciate PGLTM for being more than just another trap album. He even allows the legend of OJ Da Juiceman to live on with adlibs throughout the fantastic ‘Sleep When U Die’. There are small nods to Atlanta rap history like this throughout the chorus of the album, adding a bit of nostalgia for simpler times.
The album is wonderful from front to back with very few low points, none of them coming from 2 Chainz. His detail for picking production that stands out is on the same level as Rick Ross for this album and he has many memorable lines (“my side girl got pregnant by her main dude and I’m offended” and “I’m anti phony, my girl anti bony” to name a couple). Past singles ‘Big Amount’ and ‘Good Drank’ are included mainly to help the streaming numbers but they don’t dilute the tracklist and sound like they fit on the project. It’s rare for artists to find multiple runs in their career but this version of 2 Chainz feels like he’s fully evolved. We’ve seen what he’s been capable of in the past but PGLTM feels like he’s found his third wind and won’t be passing the torch in Atlanta rap anytime soon.
Repeatable: ‘Riverdale Rd.’, ‘4AM’ feat. Travis Scott, ‘Rolls Royce B*tch’, ‘Burglar Bars’ feat. Monica
Skippable: ‘Realize’ feat. Nicki Minaj
By Joe Coad