No one writes punchlines like 2 Chainz. Be they a rapper, an author, comedian or a filmmaker – no one in the English language possesses the same flourish for double (or triple) entendre and homophones as well as internal and multisyllabic rhymes.
2 Chainz’s place as rap’s Poet Laureate has been assured for over a decade, but in a year such as 2020, where more musicians have taken to ‘sunglasses off’ efforts, realising projects touching on loneliness, getting older and wanting more than rampant hedonism, would the 43-year-old’s latest album ‘So Help Me God’ see him tone things down and get more introspective?
Not a chance. The Georgian rapper starts his sixth studio album (in eight years) observing on ‘Lambo Wrist’ how the watch he wears is the same price as a Lamborghini, while second track ‘Grey Area’ conveys the mission statement of the album in a most straightforward manner: “All this shit that I have done, I can not believe in karma / Old enough to be your Daddy, young enough to fuck your Mama / Young enough to fuck your sister, young enough to fuck your auntie.”
‘So Help Me God’ finds 2 Chainz once again partaking in melodramatic, high-luxury rhymes, bringing in the likes of Kanye West (on ‘Feel A Way’), Chief Keef (‘Free Lighter’) and Rick Ross (‘YRB’) on one of the most decadent albums of the year. Backed up by producer 30 Roc, Big Papito and Boi-1da, this 15 -rack album is sometimes ‘big’ and sometimes ‘clever’, but occasionally goes awry.
It’s little surprise 2 Chainz is one of the first MCs to rap about wearing a Covid mask in the club (see ‘Quarantine Thick’ with relative newcomer Mulatto). ‘So Help Me God!’ find him at his boastful best, but the album suffers a loss of clarity in the midpoint. His raps veer from clever, throwaway one-liners to repetitive rhymes – yet there is still joy in hearing one of the most tongue-in-cheek rappers get to work. Most wouldn’t try to float over an old Hall & Oates record, but 2 Chainz (along with Lil Duval and Ty Dolla $ign) give it a go ‘Can’t Go For That’, a song that really should have been a summer jam.
‘So Help Me God!’ showcases the good and bad of 2 Chainz: an artist laser focused on punchlines and bangers who can be inconsistent when he has to fill an entire album with both. While this effort lacks the sense of cohesion of last year’s ‘Rap or Go To The League’ or the beat selection of 2017’s ‘Pretty Girls Like Trap Music’, there is a vintage 2 Chainz aura to the record.
He will forever be an artist who sounds like he’s eating corn on the cob in between tracks, kernel by kernel. 2 Chainz could be doing something else with his time, but here he is, indulging his baser whims, simply because he likes the taste.
Release date: November 13
Record label: Gamebread, LLC / Def Jam Recordings