Gangsterism and thug life in hip hop sometimes need a face lift to keep things exciting, either through technique or song structure or style changes or something else. 2 Chainz has always subscribed to the gangster rapper code of conduct at least as far as music is concerned, but he has always added a little extra on top of it. He separates himself from the rest of the pack with unique word selections for rhymes, smart metaphors and similes, and an easygoing, slang-filled flow. He carries himself unpretentiously as his braggadocio is more like teasing instead of insulting and doesn't take himself too seriously when he tenderly admits to his meager origins. 2 Chainz, or Tauheed Epps, and former Tity Boi from Playaz Circle, cranks out a good one by trying new methods, being himself, and enlisting some help, on his sophomore solo studio album B.O.A.T.S. II, or Based On A Tru Story II: Me Time.
The high living mob figure who 2 Chainz depicts comes out in full regalia for a large chunk of the album in songs like "36," the Pharrell assisted "Feds Watching," and "I Do It" which features Drake and Lil Wayne. The wonderful lyricism that he embodies decorates these few songs and many others where they may grow outdated in the subject matter category. Party-oriented hits like "Where You Been," "Used 2," and "Netflix" featuring Fergie, are sprinkled all over the album. For a talented lyricist like 2 Chainz to sacrifice his skills, however, for low brow concept bangers like this is tantamount to selling out a small portion of himself to the dumbed down status quo of radio rap. Everything would be wasted on B.O.A.T.S. II if not for a few elements that deserve mentioning. Toward the end of the album, 2 Chainz has inserted a handful of songs laced with some refreshing intellect. "Beautiful Pain" featuring Lloyd and Mase exposes 2 Chainz's vulnerability not as a target but so listeners can get to know the artist better and relate to the man on a personal level. "So We Can Live" featuring T-Pain, with nice hip hop scratches halfway through and a detailed police pull over makes for a technically daring song, especially and also because the beat gets a makeover for the second half of the track into a more gloomy mood contrasted by the more peppy first part of the song. Finally "Black Unicorn" and "Outroduction" both heighten 2 Chainz's relatibility with his audience as he discusses his modest beginnings, which show he was once a common man who is still able to identify with other working class folks.
In nearly all parts of the album, the production is markedly electro-synthetic with quite a few dark overtones here and there even when 2 Chainz is rapping contentedly along in seemingly good spirits. Few variations from modern trends in beat making appear aside from some mild experimentation like that mentioned above in "So We Can Live," but 2 Chainz has assembled a good cast of producers to suit him and to form his twist on the current, popular style of the hip hop beat. Hot shot producers like Mike Will Made It, Pharrell, Mannie Fresh, Drumma Boy, J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League, DJ Toomp, and StreetRunner all made contributions to the album.
B.O.A.T.S. II avoids the so called sophomore curse and excels in some areas, but it struggles to become trailblazing, resorting to typical gangsterism and ghetto life-reminiscing; however, 2 Chainz cannot be completely blamed for this because it is what he is best at. He starts by showing off and being flashy and then humbles himself with tales of despair from his past. He busts through the gate but then settles down and becomes personal and empathetic. The album is a little cluttered with star power, but in the end, 2 Chainz has his day and shows us who he is.