The highest peak of stardom is like Mount Everest; many embark on the journey but few plant their flag at the top. Even fewer are awarded a second chance. Once “Duffle Bag Boys” came and went, I assumed both halves of Playaz Circle had reached their highest point―one big record before falling into the same silent obscurity that claimed Huey and Jibbs. “Duffle Bag Boys” was released in 2007; this October will be the 10th anniversary of the duo's breakout single.
While I wasn’t wrong about Playaz Circle—they never followed up with a bigger single—Tity Boi refused the fate of a momentary star. He fought against being forgotten by taking on a new moniker and flooding the market with new material.
2012 was the year Tity Boi was brought back to life, and 2 Chainz was his second chance to plant his flag.
Since his reemergence, Chainz hasn’t slowed down, providing fans with bangers and the kind of quotables that would impress the pickiest of lyricists. He kills with style and humor and delivers with a plethora of flows and punchlines. He's unapologetically Southern, undeniably charismatic and one of the few rappers who can appear on both De La Soul’s And the Anonymous Nobody... and Migos' Culture. On the heels of his third studio album, though, the question swirling around Pretty Girls Like Trap Music is straightforward: will this be the project that brings 2 Chainz the respect he's due?
Paul Thompson wrote a convincing article for Noisey with the headline, “2 Chainz Has Quietly Spent the Last 18 Months Being One of the Very Best Rappers Alive.” He makes excellent points, but the best point might be about 2 Chainz’ albums―the official projects have been good but bloated, the highlights not bright enough to overshadow the forgettable records. We know Chainz can make bangers and deliver excellent features, and we know he has classic mixtape material under his belt. An excellent album has a chance to be the cherry on top of those 18 months to truly make a case for Chainz as one of rap's best.
In usual 1-Listen fashion, the rules are the same: no skipping, no fast-forwarding, no rewinding and no stopping. Each song will receive my gut reaction from start to finish.
1. "Saturday Night"
Heavy piano keys, I mean eating McDonald's every day for a year heavy. An electric guitar just cut right through blazing with fire and feeling. I heard that McFli tag! Shoutout to Ducko for his first major album placement. Chainz has arrived, he’s very calm despite the production being the soundtrack to world domination. His flow is slower, and outside of telling his driver to take off his hat when he arrives, there are no crazy bars. This intro feels so big, now Chainz is snapping. The energy has risen, he just threw shots at Cristal and Hilfiger. Poet slam snapping. Ha! “Everybody in the city said that boy Tity back snapping,” amazing timing for that line. Alright, this is like Aerosmith trap music. Reminiscing on the days back in the trap. Chainz said he was at graduation with a bag full drugs, that’s up there with Bobby selling crack in the 5th grade. I forgot all about T.I. swinging on Luda’s manager. Time flies. The production dropped the drums, still cinematic. We need more Ducko and Chainz, this is magic. By far the most memorable Chainz album intro. These keys, man...
2. "Riverdale Rd"
RIVERDALE! Southside Atlanta hasn’t had this kind of homage since Waka and Grove Street. Sounds like a movie skit. OH MY GOD! THIS BASS JUST HIT ME LIKE A REGGIE WHITE SACK. THIS IS THE SOUND OF A HUMMER COLLIDING WITH A HADOUKEN. MANO AND MIKE DEAN SAMPLED GODZILLA DOING THE A-TOWN STOMP FOR THIS BASS. Chainz hasn’t even started rapping, he's just popping off. Putting on for Old National. This beat is a monster. Rapid flow. He’s animated and alive. This is amazing. Southern bliss. THIS IS PUNCH A FOOL IN THE MOUTH MUSIC. START A RIOT AT A WALMART MUSIC. I just want to get into the kind of fist fight you can only have when playing hockey. I wish Key! was on this record. Chainz is water walking with this flow. Song switched up, like a playful singy-songy style. “From grams to GRAMMY.” The beat faded out and came back in with the force of Thor’s hammering colliding with Zeus’ lightning. Fight music back. Crunk back.
3. "Good Drank" (ft. Gucci Mane & Quavo)
How do we go to these elegant keys after that earth shattering bass? Like going from a bar fight to a wedding. I have mixed feelings about this song being on the album—it’s rather old—but it’s everything classic about a Chainz single. Also, he delivers a flawless Chainz verse, it would be a crazy move to allow this only live on a mixtape. I love Quavo, I love this hook, but I wish it was the choir version. When Chainz did it with the choir, talk about trap gospel! If placed on the album, it would be like going from a bar fight to church and all bar fights should end with a little holy water. Gucci SNAPPED! It’s a gem of a verse. I haven’t loved everything he’s done since “1st Day Out” but this is good and you can find me in East Atlanta if you disagree. Hahaha, the perky breast and turkey neck line, I need a collab between Gucci and Giggs. This is a quality Quavo hook. He really is living his hookman phase. Mike Dean did kill this beat. Really good song, old, but good. We're three records in with no complaints.
4. "4 AM" (ft. Travis Scott)
I feel like I've heard this before. Interesting keys. Drums just kicked in. Nice trap thumper. Ha, I wonder which Tha Carter album is Chainz favorite. Nice bounce here. I feel like this is the kind of music that sounds best when you’re on your third drink in the club and start feeling yourself. Chainz is rapping. I mean, he is rhyming with such precision. Each lyric matters. I’m never been too big on Travis hooks on features, I feel like they’re always a little off. Second verse flow is why Chainz is an insane writer. He understands how delivery can make a song an experience. The “ohhhh” flow is fire, I’m here for it. Sometimes what can make a rapper memorable isn’t what he says but how he says it. It’s hard to peg a flow that’s uniquely 2 Chainz because he changes it so much. “I used to trap and watch bootlegs,” crazy how Netflix killed Blockbuster and the Bootleg man. I really enjoyed everything about this song but Travis. Okay, a skit. I’m here for rap skits to come back. “Everybody in here pregnant except my patna dem.”
5. "Door Swangin"
A light build up. A little talking. Keys thumping. Melodic Chainz. I’m loving the imagery that Chainz is painting. He’s somewhere between reminiscing about his past and where he is in the present-tense. “Told her turn around even though his name tatted” and “had a felony before you knew what a felony was” are those little moments that you will only get from Tity. Production wise, this record doesn’t stand out. I wanted something a little lively. Okay, we've got a little switch up. So many little bars. Chainz is flow switching like a drunk driver switching lanes. I like the dexterity of “Door Swangin,” there’s plenty of tricks. Not a bad song, but it would’ve fit perfectly on Collegrove.
6. "Realize" (ft. Nicki Minaj)
Quiet build up. Has the “Good Job 1st” tag. Man, producer tags are so important in 2017. It’s far more sparse and stripped down than previous songs. Usually, by now, Chainz songs would knock you in the chest but "Realize" is just building up. Chainz rapping with a Prince/Purple Rain reference. He's just floating over the light keys and strange percussion. I like this. It’s a nice change of pace. “Bought me a car February 1st you already know it was black on black.” I'm pretty sure Chainz can rap over anything, but I wouldn’t expect him to tackle this. Shots at the government. YOOOO! He actually mumbled to say fuck all that mumble shit. He’s a true character. Man, a Nicki Minaj hook in 2017 feels so strange. When was the last one she delivered? Rap Nicki. Stunt Nicki. Shots at Remy Ma. I’m worried she’ll spend her entire next album making light jabs. Also, knighting herself the north’s Dwayne Carter is… interesting. I like this verse, but I kind of miss animated Nicki. It’s starting to drag a bit. Oh…. no… she just said Papoose wrote the Remy diss. Let the ghostwriter conversation begin again. In retrospect, this beat really slowed down the album. Maybe an odd placement, but it definitely halted this moving machine. I don’t know if I'll be back here too often, it’s no “Beez In The Trap.”
7. "Poor Fool" (ft. Swae Lee)
Another McFli tag, ayyyy. Are those wind chimes? Sounds like wind chimes. Wind chimes are the new flutes, tell all the trap producers. Swae Lee! I wonder if he’s about to start making that solo run. Not a crazy catchy hook, but it's cool. Chainz is so lively. Also hearing a lot of personal lyrics, a couple lines about family. A few paranoia references about old friends. “Raised by a single parent black woman, they called me Tity Boi because she used to spoil me,” finally the mystery is solved. I think the hook is a homage to what his mom used to tell him. This Swae Lee hook is growing on me. He has that sound that will make almost anything work. Brad Jordan reference. Also, realizing that 2 Chainz is cut from the trap cloth of Jeezy, T.I. and Gucci and not the Migos, Young Thug, Fetty Wap version of Trap Music. There’s a nostalgic quality to this album, it sounds more like old Atlanta than new Atlanta. I don't know what the sound is at the end but it’s saucy.
8. "Big Amount" (ft. Drake)
I love this song. Probably one of my favorite Chainz songs with one of Drake’s best verses from last year. It has the flute and the bounce, I wish it would’ve included a #BigAmountChallange. This 2 Chainz flow is like water, it’s just that fluid. He’s like if a bottle of Dasani became a rapper. I don’t think Chainz and Drake have made a bad song, they’re such an odd but excellent pairing. Chainz has really good chemistry with everyone from Young Money, which makes me wish I liked that Nicki verse more. “Everywhere I go the rod with me because these niggas acting too fishy,” such a great 2 Chainz line. Duffle Bag forever. Can we get this Drake on the next album playlist? When he raps, and I mean really raps, he’s excellent. There’s really nothing left to say about “Big Amount” that hasn’t been said. It’s an oldie, but I wouldn’t waste such a Drake verse. A 2 Chainz classic. Pretty sure the streams will do wonders for the project. A keeper but it’s been one.
9. "It's A Vibe" (ft. Ty Dolla Sign, Trey Songz & Jhene Aiko)
There’s a part of me that hopes the word vibe dies. The only Vibe we need is the magazine. I hate how easy we can run a word into the ground. But to contradict myself, this production is a very mellow vibe. The saucy vibe that you would want to hear when you first step into the house party. Ty Dolla! This sounds like his kind of song. I already hate how overused the world vibe is being used. It would be far more appreciated if they showed and didn’t tell. Create the vibe don’t tell me how it’s a vibe. Trey Songz! I feel like I haven’t heard from Trigga in five years but I rarely listen to the radio, either. I wonder when rappers stopped calling him for hooks? Probably when Drake blew up. Solid. Chainz is back, this song does feel far more R&B than rap. I wish he didn’t say that Asian line but the verse is good. It makes complete sense why this song didn’t pop. Jhené Aiko is adorable. Sonic cotton candy. I wish she had more of a presence. Even with the star-studded lineup, it doesn’t really draw you in. It doesn’t set the kind of...wait for it...vibe you want to stay in for long. Such a promising beat, such a promising line up. Likely skipping this one.
10. "Rolls Royce Bitch"
What a great title. Honorable C.N.O.T.E. on the production. A nice guitar, I'm liking this country trap rap tune. Chainz with the positive reinforcement. Spreading self-belief. Conflicted. I feel like a true Gemini thanks to the way this song causes me to lean toward skipping and also for playing it for an eternity. It just seems a little silly, I’m used to Chainz humor but also being serious. Second verse and hook got me bouncing in my chair like BIGQUINT. This is the song you play when you’re leaving the club with all your boys in the car hanging out the window―loud and obnoxious joy. It’s such an odd contrast between the strums and the trap drums, it’s like making two conflicting sounds try and coexist. Chainz never sounds out of place, I’m surprised he hasn’t tried to do more experimental crossovers. Another one wavering on the skip button, but it’s cool. Might grow on me, I'll give it a chance.
11. "Sleep When U Die"
Ay! AY! AY! YOUNG JUICE MAN! OKAY! I miss Young Juice Man! Now this is a beat! BANGER ALERT. If I had dreads they would be swung furiously right now. My dreads would be doing the Petey Pablo helicopter. SNAP CHAINZ SNAP. Forget what I said about experimental production, I want Chainz to rap over trunk rattlers for the rest of my life. This. Is. ALL. I. Need. “Hard work beats talent,” THIS SECOND VERSE RHYMING WHILE JUICE MAN DOES ADLIBS IS LIFE. He just shot a gun in the booth, I wasn’t ready lmao. Only Chainz will juxtapose Ric Flair and Rick James. Easily an early favorite. It just has all the right elements of a great 2 Chainz song and adding OJ Juiceman is a next level addition. Two great verses and a thunderous beat. Put it in the casket.
12. "Trap Check"
HOL UP! A JEEZY SAMPLE! From OJ to Jeezy! Man, this album is so Atlanta. He really got a chopped up version of “Get Ya Mind Right” playing right now. Trapper of the year four times in a row. Amazing. THUG MOTIVATION. I haven’t had this much pride in my hometown since the Falcons were in the Super Bowl. THE SWITCH WAS WILD. The song finally came in and it should be considered a face full of pimples—it’s that bumping. Hit all dem folks. Chainz got a lot of checks, it’s like he’s going down his laundry list. Imagery galore. I’m not in love with this hook, but everything else is hitting all the right buttons. Kind of song you spend all your money just to feel a little like 2 Chainz. Having money to buy girls Nikes must be NICE. BRUH! A$AP BY T.I. JUST CAME IN. THOSE HORNS. CHAINZ IS PAYING HOMAGE. THIS IS BEAUTIFUL.
13. "Blue Cheese" (ft. Migos)
This album is soooo Atlanta. Jeezy and T.I. interpolation on the same song and now we have a song with Migos. We aren’t worthy. This is lush, these synths. Very airy. Quavo sounds like a trap angel who just got his wings. Quavo's the kind of angel who would ice out his halo. Not the song you expect the Migos to appear upon. Chainz is upset that his side chick got pregnant by her main dude, I’m hollering. Second half of the album has some great moments. He went back to the "No Problem" flow, an immaculate delivery. Quavo sounds like he made it to heaven and got drunk and went straight to the booth. It’s that heavenly slur. TAKEOFF! How long until we’re tired of the Migo flow? Not today. Also, I think the Migo ad-libs are the greatest. Also, really, Blue Cheese over Ranch? Offset! I think he has become my favorite Migo. Drilling the pocket. Northside homage. Give Quavo all the hooks. Also also, we need a Quavo and T-Pain duet. Such a damn elegant beat, it’s so tender that you almost forget it’s there like see through clothing.
14. "OG Kush Diet"
LOL, the skit before the transition. Another 1st production sounds like he’s using a rattlesnake for the shaker. This beat sounds like if Pharrell and Chad Hugo grew up in East Atlanta and not on Neptune. It has those quirky instruments that you would think wouldn’t go together. This is so strange yet riveting. 2 Chainz is dancing, a very effortless performance. Such a weird song. Such a good song. Chainz said he might paint the White House. These drums are hitting harder than a killer whale cannonballing into a fish tank. Beat switch. Horns. Wait, I know this. This is so saucy. A Caribbean vibe. I know this, it’s a familiar sample, I believe. On the tip of my fingers. Amazing. Chainz really put a lot into this album and hasn’t missed a single beat. 8 Ball & MJG reference into a Migos reference. Just had a thought: The Migos are the Alvin, Simon, and Theodore of trap music, Hip-hop’s Chipmunks. I don’t know how he can go from a trap song to the island interpolation but it worked wonders. Another hilarious closer.
15. "Bailan" (ft. Pharrell)
The Pharrell signature, soulful stutter is my favorite producer tag. It makes my heart leap every time. Pharrell is singing, very angelic per usual. Very nice vocals. Beat is very minimum, blissful, but the drums just dropped! A trap vibe sprinkled with angel dust. Not the drug, though. Actual angels. This song is structured rather oddly. Not sure if Pharrell had the hook but Chainz just arrived and is rapping with a melodic style. I think I like this. It’s just a bit... unorthodox. This is the sore thumb cut that could work, I think it's oddly placed. Would’ve fit a bit better after the Migos record. I wish I liked this more, it just doesn’t have the energy. No real bounce. Even 2 Chainz doesn’t sound very amped to be on the song. Even though I’m rather disappointed, I wouldn’t be surprised if this turned out to be a third single.
16. "Burglar Bars" (ft. Monica)
Someone speaking. Louis Farrakhan, I believe. Beautiful instrumental, beautiful singing from Monica. I wish rappers still called her for hooks. Tity is killing it. Kendrick mentioned. This is how you close out an album. HE IS GOING OFF! “I did everything except a fucking song with Jay but I murdered every song I fucking did with Ye,” SNAP CHAINZ, SNAP. I really do love how he juxtaposed his trap past and rap present. I don’t think I’ve ever heard Chainz sound so open. This is a great, great, great closing. Monica sounds like she just woke up in an all white Disney castle and felt like singing. This is a compliment. That high note. “Soulful trap music.” Soul trap is what Bryson Tiller could never make. Chainz talking. Man. This is beautiful. Begin strong, end strong.
Even with it's few missteps, this is, by far, the best 2 Chainz full-length. I feel comfortable giving Pretty Girls Like Trap Music the title after a sole listen based on how it left me with this thrill of wanting a reset, to start from the very top. There are only two or three tracks that I’m iffy on, but the entire listening experience is consistently enjoyable. He makes the kind of trap music that blurs the lines between ear grabbing stunting and introspective honesty, as Paul Thompson said, “Cartoon luxury and somber naturalism.” His personality shines bright, each song drips with style, and there are enough curveballs to keep each record sounding unique and diverse. It’s a trap album, it’s an Atlanta album, but more importantly, it’s a 2 Chainz album.
Tity Boi stepped up to the plate. Not only did he deliver an album that highlights his strengths as an artist, you can hear the effort. This isn’t a lazy release, an album because an album is required. You hear an artist who wanted to prove something, who wanted to prove that he hasn’t come this far to fall off. Longtime fans will be ecstatic but I think even listeners who haven’t been satisfied by his previous albums should give this one an ear. It’s a fun listen that’s perfect for the summer sun. All I can do is applaud. This is the album I wanted from a rapper who had yet to find his footing on an album.
Is this a conversation changing release? It has potential. Without question, I believe the album can solidify Chainz as one of the best out of Atlanta. I don’t just mean that in a present-tense, either. I think Chainz is showing why he can stand alongside Jeezy, T.I. and Gucci. He didn’t blow up during their peak era but he is carrying their torch. He isn’t trying to be like the new trap kids—he knows he isn’t Playboi Carti—but he doesn't need to be. He's 2 Chainz.
Even if he isn't crowned as one of the best rappers alive, Pretty Girls Like Trap Music is a reminder that 2 Chainz is one of the most unique lyricists to blossom from Atlanta’s trap.
By Yoh, aka Pretty Girls Like Yoh Articles, aka @Yoh31