**1/2 (out of four)
You may know 2 Chainz (formerly Tity Boi, actually named Tauheed Epps) from his self-referential ad lib (“2 Chaiiiinnnnz”) and his nasal, strongly Atlanta-accented voice that cranks out fresh, funny punchlines about presumably exhausted topics (expensive cars, attractive women, attention-grabbing jewelry) with a cackling glee. He's the scene-stealing guest verse guy (on tracks including Kanye West’s “Mercy” and Nicki Minaj’s “Beez in the Trap”)--the mischievous uncle who shows up at the family barbecue cracking dirty jokes and driving a cool car.
He's also maybe not the family member you want sticking around for a week--not because you don't like him necessarily, but because there are only so many Viagra jokes a person can take in a single sitting. Fortunately, 2 Chainz, who recently opened for Minaj at the Chicago Theatre, is a really, really, really good rapper. He's Atlanta's current answer to artists like Jadakiss and Cam'ron, and 2 Chainz’s ostensible debut, “Based on a T.R.U. Story,” is reminiscent of the days when guys like that could just rap well for an hour and sell half a million albums. But the effect of being a good rapper for so long—his previous group, Playaz Circle, was signed to Ludacris’ Disturbing Tha Peace label and had a minor hit with “Duffle Bag Boy”--is that 2 Chainz's personality is also basically Very Good Rapper With Lots of Money.
He expertly guides us through a familiar, charmingly escapist world where the lobster tails are as plentiful as the car roofs are scarce. It's not really a unique vision, though, and there are more fun versions of it elsewhere. There are worse fates for an album, particularly a major label rap album in 2012, than being a mostly solid listen, and most artists might be happy to have an album where the highlights are basically Lil Wayne, Drake and Kanye West songs (“Yuck,” “No Lie” and “Birthday Song,” respectively).
But for a guy who has been the benchmark for entertaining rap verses in 2012, it's hardly remarkable.
Kyle Kramer is a RedEye special contributor. @redeyechimusic
Album review: 2 Chainz, 'Based on a T.R.U. Story'
2 Chainz (August 14, 2012)