Bangers, bangers and more bangers on 2 Chainz's "Freebase" EP.
I don’t believe there’s a single person on Earth who saw Tity Boi becoming a national superstar. From background appearances in old Ludacris music videos to becoming a one hit wonder as a part of Playaz Circle to having the number one hip-hop album in the country, the rapper formerly known as Tauheed Epps is an incredible example of what hard work and dedication can do. Returning to the scene just eight months after the release of his good-but-not-great (and terribly titled) B.O.A.T.S. II: Me Time, Mr. Big Booty Hoe returns with a new EP that sticks to the same formula while shaking up the foundation a bit.
After a short introduction that samples a ‘90s local Nashville TV show called Cuts (yeah, I had to look it up too), Freebase jumps right into the Street Symphony and 808xEliate produced “Trap Back.” Easily one of the more sonically interesting tracks in the artist’s repertoire, the single’s crowded but smooth-rolling instrumental provides Tity with the rare opportunity to get out of the club and spit some knowledge. While “This flow came from Drizzy, he got it from Migos, they got it from Three Six” isn’t exactly Nas-level thought provoking, it’s certainly a step up from “All I do is me: masturbation.” It’s a side of Chainz that deserves some further exploration at the very least. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your point-of-view), experimentation begins and ends here.
The title track, “FREEBASE,” earns its all-caps title treatment and sets the tone for the remainder of the album. Aggressively delivering the usual rags-to-riches story over Honorable C.N.O.T.E.’s synth-heavy production, Chainz turns the energy up to 11 shouting, “I came from nothing!” and backing up his thesis with the lyrical proof (“Just went playing by no rules. Every night I freestyle on Pro Tools.”). It’s not an original story but at least in this case it may be T.R.U.
The tale transitions into “Flexin’ On My Baby Mama.” Produced by none other than Three 6 Mafia’s own DJ Paul alongside Twhy For Scale Ent, the song nails the classic 2 Chainz formula: punchline-driven verses, catchy hooks and thumping production. But, interestingly enough, the song has layers—unexpected and subtle but surprisingly deep layers. “Damn I should have worn a condom!” is followed up by an open declaration that Chainz misses his own father—a man he claims to have been his best friend. “I take care of my kids but I’m flexin’ on my baby mama!” becomes less of a joke and more of a mantra.
The EP really drops the ball on “Wuda Cuda Shuda.” Thanks to a lackluster hook, it’s easily the project’s least listenable track. We can all pretend that Boosie’s verse was hot because he’s “real,” but really, it’s okay at best. Fortunately, the bad taste left from “Shuda” is immediately washed out by “Crib In My Closet,” which is guaranteed to shake the streets all summer long. Stellar work from Metro Boomin & 808 Mafia is just the cherry on top of dope verses from ASAP Rocky and Rick Ross. The song also showcases 2 Chainz’s best hook since ASAP Rocky’s own “Fuckin’ Problems.” Play this one loud. EP closer “They Know” keeps the energy rolling but is easily overshadowed by the monster of a collaboration that precedes it.
At the end of the day, Freebase isn’t about to convert anyone into a 2 Chainz fan. If you like your hip-hop with a message on the side, this isn’t where you’re going to find it (for that, check out Atmosphere’s latest). What the EP provides are trunk rattlers and club hits from one of today’s premiere entertainers. 2 Chainz has come a long way since Tity Boi. If he keeps up this kind of consistency, Ludacris might be the one appearing in the background of his music videos.