When ‘Pretty Girls Like Trap Music’ dropped in 2017, I vividly remember listening to that entire album at least once per day. And how could I not? This album, alongside Sza’s debut studio album, ‘Ctrl’ - which also came out around the same time - got me through one of the worst summers of my life. As someone who was only a casual fan of 2 Chainz prior to this particular release, that album was a pivotal point in my fandom. To this day, Rolls Royce Bitch still gives me a surge of motivation that is unmatched that makes me feel like conquering the world is possible. True Story…
Once again, Atlanta’s very own Tauheed Epps, professionally known as 2 Chainz (formerly known as Tity Boi) - is back with his fifth studio album, ‘Rap or Go to the League’ and I must say that I am quite impressed. In a recent write up by Complex , senior editor, Frazier Tharpe labeled this as his best album yet. Even if I were to include the vault of mix tapes, I wholeheartedly agree. Dare I say it, but this is probably one of the best rap albums to drop so far in 2019.
It starts off with Forgiven, which presented itself as a melodic ode to his sins featuring the lovely Marsha Ambrosius. The poetry of this song in particular pulled me in; 55 minutes later realizing I didn’t skip or skim through it, simply because there wasn’t a real need to. It was solid record and once it was over, I immediately wanted to play it over and over again. It gradually motions into different renditions of his life story and experience, pulling me in with every beat change. Threat to Society, which is one of my favorite tracks on this album, is a perfect example of this.
‘Rap or Go to the League’ is a rather fitting title for The Sky Box Suite and perfect timing for March Madness wave and NBA playoff season. It’s definitely a step or two up from his last project. It’s definitely a gem that makes me appreciate the artistry better, and - just like #PGLTM - it was easy for me to relate to on a more personal level. While social media seemed to be raving over Solange’s latest release, I found myself inspired to write poetry for the first time in months while 2 Chainz echoed in the background.
Comprehensive and cohesive, both eloquent and woke af, ‘Rap or Go to the League’ is considerably what I would call a cultural masterpiece. What impressed me the most about this album was how it successfully portrayed the expectations of so many black boys in America and how these societal expectations follow them into manhood. It details all the many roles they’re pressured to live in and the burden each role carries, making the title of this album even more compelling than it was initially. I also enjoy how the harmony of the struggle and the come up is presented, how two opposing concepts were able to flow so effortlessly together.
Aside from the production of this record, the use of samples the lyrical content, and the overall track continuity were all executed incredibly well, which enabled it to play out like a sonically pleasing, autobiographic audio book. I’ve always believed that hip-hop continues to be an underrated form of art and poetry; this album confirms that idea. Jam packed with cultural references, past and present lessons of a rap game veteran, and feel good/ energy booster hits, I know this will be an album in heavy rotation for a while.