2 Chainz – Stunt feat. Meek Mill
2 Chainz emergence has always felt like a weird lateral move for Atlanta; the Biggest Rapper In Atlanta mantle shifting from T.I. -> Jeezy -> Gucci -> Waka to the gawkily charismatic wiseacre formerly known as Tity Boi definitely shows signs of Atlanta’s creative dominance down-pedaling, with audiences split between pop artist (Future) gangster (Alley Boy) and lyricist (2 Chainz). The above track (“Stunt”) was probably my favorite moment on the somewhat underwhelmingly consistent T.R.U. REALigion. It’s a solid record, but there’s definitely a sense that 2 Chainz just happened to be on the bench when they needed someone to play center. And although it’s a consistent album (ha, mixtape) I don’t think it’s touching last year’s Trap-A-Veli 2 (my introduction to him as a solo artist) or this year’s Codeine Cowboy.
So 2 Chainz is in this weird position where he’s punching above his weight based on what you expect if you’ve followed Playaz Circle, to under-performing relative to the last decade of Atlanta rap heroes. That said, I think his lyrical influence is definitely starting to show signs that it’s got a wide influence, with what I’ve coined the ‘wink-flow’ (I coin this with a meta wink, this is not intended to be the next ‘cloud rap’ — just trying to observe a temporal trend in lyrical approach) I’d say it’s a definite improvement over the ‘Grocery Bag’ style pioneered by Young Money, in that the punchlines aren’t so blatantly emphasized, and there’s probably a success rate that hits 60 or 70%, rather than the 30-40% during the “ball–chemo” era. I still can’t fuck with that naming-the-baby-Mercedes punchline, although “Spend It” is one of the most incessantly catchy rap songs of the year and T.I. really does destroy that verse on the remix.
The way I see it, the ‘wink-flow’ is basically about delivering a punchline with a sly, unconventional structure; they tend to be more ‘slow burner’-type punches than the straightforward Houston approach that Riff Raff’s been rolling with lately, or the UNDERLINING obviousness of Young Money #hashtag raps. In that sense, its more of an anti-style than a style; anytime you can’t qualify a clever line as having a particularly obvious precedent in Luda, Young Money, Swishahouse or Jadakiss; its an attempt to make the joke seem effortless & the listener cooler for having caught onto it (I recognize the paradox of breaking that kind of shit down, but that’s basically the crux of this site’s existence at this point so bear with me).
Where has the 2 Chainz wink-flow extended, you ask? The first example has to be Young Dolph, whose recent tape is worth checking out if you’ve been feeling the Zed Zilla / Yo Gotti / Don Trip axis.
Young Dolph – Long Money
“Went to sleep thinkin’ bout money / took a million-dollar-nap.” From Street Music 2: Hustler’s Paradise, which I haven’t been able to spend much time with because I’ve been buried under mixtapes long like Young Dolph’s money in an effort to get some kind of handle on hip-hop this year, but it seemed solid on a cursory listen.
The other artist in this realm I’ve noticed is aptly-named Mississippi rapper Tha Joker. Although he’s killing them on the YouTube views, I haven’t seen much chatter about his music in the press whatsoever. His recent tape Why So Serious 2 isn’t really all-that, mostly killed by bland fake Luger / KE production on about half the tracks and an occasional inconsistency in his rapping, but he is clearly still growing as an artist, and was only 17 when this freestyle dropped.
Tha Joker – We Do It For Fun Pt 2
There’s a bit of that Houston flow that Riff Raff’s been rocking lately on this freestyle. But his newer stuff has shifted towards more of a 2 Chainz punchline delivery. Although I don’t think he’s done anything great at this point, he’s built something like an audience & is at least a rapper to keep an eye on. He’s adapted 2 Chainz joke style to a more swag rap style.
Tha Joker – Blow Stacks
Wait. 2 Chainz being described as “lyrical”. What. At be he is a step above the average rapper posted on DGB, and at worst he is the average rapper posted on DGB.
Does Tha Joker have a tape worth checking for? Everything I run into of his is really underwhelming.
Annd yes, 2 chainz is “lyrical”…his sound(and content) is actually rather diverse despite his rising popularity as the ignorant rapper du jour.
what dalatu said. Agree with this 100%: “there’s definitely a sense that 2 Chainz just happened to be on the bench when they needed someone to play center.”
nah 2 Chainz has a bunch of funny lines if you pay attention, a lot of times they sound like rapper dad jokes though the way he delivers them, like about how all his cars have gasoline in the ash tray GET IT HE MEANS SOUR DIESEL
But is anyone else hearing the connection between new Joker, Dolph & 2 Chainz? Maybe it’s a bit tenuous but there’s something tying those three together in my mind for some reason, the punchlines aren’t so predictably structured as in the Riff Raff Houston style, I think?
@ dalatau: I think David was saying it isn’t a great sign for Atlanta that Tity is their “lyrical” representative. Or are you saying something different David?
Man, I remember it was only a year and a half ago that Codeine Withdrawal came out and DGB was pushing Tity hard but no one seemed to care. My favorite song of his is still from that tape ( “Not Ya Ordinary” Feat. Dolla) and I’m not sure he will ever make anything as introspective/dark again. You could kind of tell at that point, especially moving into Trap-A-Velli 2, that Tity had the ability to make hits and he was going to move in that direction. I mean the dude has a college education and has studied under Luda, one of mainstream raps biggest successes, for over 10 years.
I haven’t listened to much Joker because his verse on “Zip and a Double Cup Remix” bored the shit out of me. I listened to the Young Dolph tape and was largely uninspired by it, but as I return to a few tracks there is certainly an appeal to Dolph, and most of it lies in the “wink flow”. I think with Tity and Dolph they give off the “I’m too cool to be rapping right now so I’m going to sound like I have somewhere else to be” and present it with so much cockiness/braggadocio that there is a draw to it. For instance, one of my favorite lines from the tape is on the track with Juicy, where Dolph says, “Got a two liter with six 0’s, got a new bitch – she wanna fuck – but I don’t want to cause I’m too throwed”.
Most of Tity and Dolphs talent seems to lie in their cadence / deliveries. The hyper accented drawl, cool casualness over trap beats, and certain staccato elements that I can’t fully parse out. Maybe they all have the same management team and are being coached on their deliveries? I wouldn’t be surprised. Wow I should have just written this all on my tumblr haha, who the hell is going to read this.
good post. i think you’ve sort of sussed out what makes it a wink flow — that syrup’d shrug to it (maybe it should be ‘shrug flow’ instead haa). I think Tha Joker is more chameleonic at this point than either of them. tity boi on ‘not ya ordinary’: “I go so left i make them ****** start writin'”
I’ve done some edits to the post that will hopefully clarify things.
By the way we can just forget I ever said ‘wink-flow’ that was supposed to be a mild clowning of walkmaster flex coining cloud rap not a serious thing.
by ‘lyrical’ i just mean, there’s a focus on lyrics & writing. not that he should be signed by shady records
Kinda like the term “rapper dad jokes”. ie “my penny loafers had nickles” from slangin birds
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