After watching 2 Chainz’s mom rap his “Proud” verse for the tenth time, I finally realized my favorite part of the video:
“Bought my mama's first house with the juug money / Bought my mama's second house with the club money.”
Madam 2 Chainz’s face scrunches with dignity, proud of her son but also channeling his nonchalant mention that he bought her two houses thanks to his varied business interests. (She reacts similarly when he performed the song in her presence on Jimmy Kimmel Live!)
The performance also triggered an epiphany: 2 Chainz loves to list his accomplishments and aspirations in simple, digestible, and endearing ways.
Generally, a 2 Chainz list highlights his personal wealth that he’s worked so hard to achieve while maintaining his dignity, pride, and attachment to the people who’ve helped get him there. These lists depict a career-long splurge into cars, clothes, women, accessories, and his greatest desires, all doled out in successive and organized bars. They’re the backbone of 2 Chainz’s recent ascent to one of the most respected rappers in hip-hop, and the contents of these lists never come off as forced or unachievable. When 2 Chainz raps, “I bought my momma a crib before I got my own place / Picked my pop up from prison and gave 'em places to stay,” it oozes with sincerity.
There are plenty of 2 Chainz bars that can be taken as “lists,” so let's boil the criteria for these lists down to two main qualities:
- The Merriam-Webster definition of a list is “a simple series of words or numerals,” so these lists must contain more than one item. For example, when 2 Chainz says, “I love them strippers” nearly 1,200 times on “I Luv Dem Strippers,” that doesn’t count as a list because he’s simply repeating his love for one thing: strippers. Similarly, on “I’m Different,” 2 Chainz says that he’s different, which he certainly is, but he doesn’t explain immediately after what exactly makes him different—just that he is different—so that’s disqualified. (There is one exception to this rule, though, and you’ll know it when you see it. It’s an important list in the trajectory of 2 Chainz’s career, and I also just really like it a lot.)
- The things that are listed must appear in succession in order to be considered a list. If there’s a bar consisting of a qualifier of the previously listed item, it doesn’t count. For example, on his guest hook on “Fuckin’ Problems,” he raps, “I got a fuckin’ problem,” between listing two things he likes: bad bitches and fucking. One thing he has between two things he likes. Two different classifications. None listed in successive order. Doesn’t count.
So let’s get into it. Here's an absurdly detailed investigation into 2 Chainz’s best lists:
Nicki Minaj — "Beez In the Trap" ft. 2 Chainz
Lyric: “If I wasn’t rappin’, I’d be trappin’ / If I wasn’t trappin’, I’d be pimpin’ / If I wasn’t pimpin’, I’d be gettin’ it, serious.”
He's got a backup plan to the backup plan to back up the backup plan.
Ludacris — "Southern Fried Intro"
Lyric: “I'm on another level though / I gotta car wash, I gotta shop on Old National, I got my own record label”
This is the first Tity Boy list on this list, but even here, he’s not exactly Tity Boy—he’s playing a character on a song from Ludacris’s Chicken-N-Beer that is trying to insult the far superior Disturbing Tha Peace squad and its venerable leader for not “bein’ in these streets” like he is. It’s an abject list made by The Common Hater™.
2 Chainz — "Riverdale Rd"
Lyric: “My first foreign car, it was a Bimmer / My second foreign car, it was a Bimmer / My third foreign car, it was a Porsche / My fourth foreign car, you can’t afford”
Well here I was interested in 2 Chainz’s fourth foreign car purchase, and now I’m not at all.
2 Chainz — “Bounce” ft. Lil Wayne
Lyric: “I kiss ya lady, eat her pussy, then kiss the baby”
Playaz Circle — “Duffle Bag Boy” ft. Lil Wayne
Lyric: “That's that salad dressing, I'm on my Thousand Island / Wildin', styling, I be / I get so much money it's my I.D., don't try me”
The list here is hidden, as Thousand Island, wildin’, and styling is a list of his current state of being. That last “I be,” if placed at the beginning of the bar, would easily be an “I’m,” but he slyly moved it to the back to attach to the next bar. Approved.
2 Chainz — “PROUD” ft. YG & Offset
Lyric: “Bought my mama's first house with the juug money / Bought my mama's second house with the club money”
Happy belated Mother’s Day, Ms. Chainz, now and forever.
Kanye West, Gucci Mane, Big Sean, 2 Chainz, Travis Scott, Yo Gotti, Quavo & Desiigner — “Champions”
Lyric: "My new bitch gon' pull me a new bitch / Then pull me a new bitch / See that is a snowball effect”
You need to surround yourself with people that will help you grow as a person and progress in life. (This may be more of a flow chart than an actual list, but I’m letting it through because this is a 2 Chainz verse where he’s functioning at maximum power, breathlessly following that aforementioned lyric with: “I got gold on my neck / Lookin' like a Super Bowl on my neck / I got a mansion full of marble floors / It look like I could go bowl in this bitch.” He’s the clear standout on a song with verses from six other front-page rappers and Desiigner.)
Playaz Circle — “U Can Believe It”
Lyric: “Flip the script cover my tattoos / Armani is the suit, Mari is the shoes / VS is the juice and the necklace is fruits”
I’ve never been surer of a song that Big K.R.I.T. had on repeat in the summer of 2007.
2 Chainz — “Ghetto”
Lyric: Basically any bar.
The whole song is 2 Chainz listing what makes him proud to be ghetto, from stealing cable from his next-door neighbor to putting hot sauce on his potato chips to requesting lean in his IV and a nurse with double Ds during a hospital stay. For a word thrown around as discriminatory and condescending in so many cases, 2 Chainz wears it majestically on his Louis Vuitton sleeve.
Playaz Circle — “Paper Chaser” ft. Phonte
Lyric: “I'm tryna get clout, cash and a Black card / So now even my pool got a backyard”
It was fun going back to 2 Chainz’s Playaz Circle days. The lists, naturally, trend more toward things that 2 Chainz dreams of achieving and having, which he eventually gets and then some by the time the early 2010s rolled around. Perspective matters. There aren’t many more motivating moments in Tity Boy’s Playaz Circle canon than “Paper Chaser.”
2 Chainz — “Birthday Song” ft. Kanye West
Lyric: “All I want for my birthday is a big booty hoe”
The exception to the rule. Imagine planning 2 Chainz’s 35th birthday gift for four months only to hear this song and find out whatever you got him won’t live up to what he really wants. (This song actually came out three weeks before his birthday, which is very convenient for the context of this blurb.)
Lyric: “When I die, bury me inside the Gucci store / When I die bury me inside the Louis store”
More important than birthday lists are a list of demands for your body in the afterlife. Be prepared.
2 Chainz — “Neighborhood”
Lyric: “I can take your bitch with this amount / And take her on a trip with this amount”
I’m starting to not like every single thing 2 Chainz lists.
2 Chainz — “Watch Out”
Lyric: "All my n*ggas with me / All my n*ggas with it / All my n*ggas ballin' / All my n*ggas athletic / All my n*ggas A1 / All got street cred”
2 Chainz has the best best friend. (This song also might come with the best 2 Chainz video, which sees 2 Chainz playing a pick up basketball game versus himself. A dream.)
K Camp — “5 Minutes” ft. 2 Chainz
Lyric: “Five minutes just to count a check / Take five minutes, spend it all on Ballies / Take five minute just to mount up / From the lot to the rim shop / Five minutes just to pull your bitch”
A song that was tailor-made for Tity’s list-making habits. Following K Camp’s model of listing things that can be accomplished in just five minutes, 2 Chainz counts how much money he has, spends it all in a luxury store, heads to the rim shop, and finds himself a counterpart all in a matter of 20 minutes.
Statik Selektah & 2 Chainz — “Smoke Break”
Lyric: “Got a .38 special, that hold eight / Got a room with marble floors and gold drapes / With a badass bitch that like to serve grapes”
Inject this 2 Chainz and Statik song into my veins for the rest of time. Where is that joint LP at, Statik?
2 Chainz — “Halo”
Lyric: “Like damn, daddy got a ball court / I'm like damn, daddy got a four wheeler / Damn, daddy got a sports car / Damn, daddy been wanting a lil' nigga”
On this song, 2 Chainz plays the role of his unborn son. The first verse sees him acknowledging his faults as a father so far with his two girls after not being home for long stretches, arguing with their mom, and consuming drugs. The second verse, though, where this list appears, sees a more hopeful fetus coming to terms with his future father’s success and how much his dad has wanted a son. This song is an interesting way for 2 Chainz to work through his faults and, hopefully, come out the other side as a better father and husband to his wife, two girls, and baby boy.
2 Chainz — “Trap Check”
Lyric: “Rap shit check, trap shit check/ Cashier check, fashion check / Foreign car check, foreign bitch check / Rolex check, gold around my neck”
Probably the only list that will appease the crowd that dissects this article too strictly. And hey! A list within a list—would you look at that. (Foreign things 2 Chainz has made sure he has on him before leaves the house: a car and a woman.)
2 Chainz — “Not Invited”
Lyric: “She fell in love with the Percocet / She like the one with a ten on it / She like the Benz with the fins on it / She like the Benz with the lens on it / She like the Benz with the rims on it”
There are lots of lists in this song, but I picked this one because he goes beyond himself and lists someone else’s likes and aspirations.
Chance The Rapper — “No Problem” ft. 2 Chainz & Lil Wayne
Lyric: “My n*ggas chasin' bounty hunters / And gettin' chased by their baby mommas”
I’m really bringing this list up because it appears in the same verse as the greatest 2 Chainz lyric ever delivered: “I’m so high, me and God dappin’.” What an image.
De La Soul — “Whoodeeni” ft. 2 Chainz
Lyric: “When I'm in the booth I'm MJ with his tongue out / When I'm in the booth I'm Kanye with a gun out”
This verse/list dropped in the summer of 2016, which is when I was positive that 2 Chainz was one of the best three or four rappers on the planet. He was in the middle of an impressive mixtape/EP run, he was slicing through every guest feature (some which have been mentioned on this list before: “No Problems,” “Champions,” “Smoke Break”), and then he showed up on a song with the legendary De La Soul and wipes them all clean on their own album, which isn’t to discredit De La. This verse was 2 Chainz raising up, sticking his tongue out mid-shot, and nailing his sixth three of the first half.
Kanye West, Big Sean, Pusha-T & 2 Chainz — “Mercy”
Lyric: “I'm drunk and high at the same time / Drinkin' champagne on the airplane”
The list here appears in the first bar: a list of his states of being. This list and the verse it appears in are important because it was 2 Chainz’s mainstream breakout moment since changing his name from Tity Boy. “Mercy” brought 2 Chainz to a whole new set of ears, and he hasn't stopped listing things since.