2 Chainz’s Magnificent ‘Rap Or Go To The League’ Is An Early Contender For Album Of The Year

03.04.19 6 months ago

Def Jam Recordings / Uproxx Studios

The RX is Uproxx Music’s stamp of approval for the best albums, songs, and music stories throughout the year. Inclusion in this category is the highest distinction we can bestow, and signals the most important music being released throughout the year. The RX is the music you need, right now.

If this season with the Lakers doesn’t work out, perhaps LeBron James might consider a permanent career as a rap A&R. His record there is so much better than his, shall we say, “fraught” first campaign with LA’s most storied sports franchise. His first time out as a record producer is a complete — you’ll really have to forgive the expression — slam dunk. 2 Chainz’s Rap Or Go To The League is so, so, so good. It’s pretty much everything you could ever hope for from the two personalities who are, despite appearances and fan complaints to the contrary, still at the top of their games.

It’s been said that LeBron James’ Instagram page is the most valuable promotional tool in rap — in fact, it was said by this very site. Songs and artists the NBA star posts about often become the talk of the rap internet — whether that’s by virtue of a golden ear or James’ massive platform is no longer in doubt. By turning his curatorial skills to 2 Chainz’s already polished rap craftsmanship, he has proved that his success in picking the next big things has been a result of his exquisite taste. While it’s likely impossible to say how much input he had over the course of the creation of Rap Or Go To The League, the effect of the pair’s chemistry is simply the best album of 2 Chainz’s lengthy, storied career, the culmination of 20 years of hard work, heart, and hustle — incidentally, exactly the same things it takes to achieve either of the title’s options for escaping life in the hood.

Growing up, young Black men are often only presented a few pathways to financial security, very few of them legitimate. As The Notorious BIG put it on his 1994 debut, Ready To Die, “Either you’re slinging crack rock or you got a wicked jump shot.” Biggie, of course, represented the third option himself — learn to rhyme, get signed, and hope to heaven your label doesn’t try to jerk you on the back end. 2 Chainz himself embodies all three of these limited choices. As Tauheed Epps, the 6’6 future rapper played high school basketball at a high enough level to earn a scholarship to hoop at Alabama State University — he also dealt weed and was arrested for felony cocaine possession when he was just 15 years old.

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