When you look at his stats on paper, he isn’t even supposed to be here. Atlanta rapper 2 Chainz had already spent over a decade trying to make a name in hip hop. He saw one hit with his group Playaz Circle, “Duffle Bag Boy,” that was powered by a Lil Wayne guest shot. In an age that’s obsessed with age, he’s ancient by mainstream hip hop standards at 36. He should be out of here. But he’s not. He is a Grammy-nominated rapper and The Source magazine’s “Man Of The Year” with a No. 1 debut album “Based on a T.R.U. Story.” And this past Tuesday, he showed a sold-out crowd at Boston’s House Of Blues that some resilience and a couple of hit records will win every time.
With Cap 1 playing the hype man and his DJ E-Sudd, he deftly moved through his hour-long set that felt like every song was a No. 1 hit. No small feat considering the current makeup of Boston radio. With a couple of exceptions, most of his songs that felt like massive hits have not gotten major radio support in the area. Sure, the radio hits like set opener “Mercy” and his Drake collaboration “No Lie” did get the love appropriate for hit records. A few people lost every bit of their home training when “Birthday Song” rang off in the venue. When “No Lie” dropped, HOB turned into a bouncing sea of humanity. But mixtape selections and album cuts like “Riot” and “I’m Different” received much the same reaction.
In the run-up to his debut album, 2 Chainz became the go-to guy for a verse. A good section of his set was built from his numerous guest appearances with artists like Nicki Minaj, Young Jeezy, Kanye West and A$AP Rocky. That might have been the only drawback. Just when you were falling into the groove of his verse on a song like Juicy J’s “Bandz A Make Her Dance,” it was over and on to the next.
For a guy from Atlanta, 2 Chainz had the crowd so frenzied that you couldn’t help but think for a brief second that he could announce a run against Mayor Menino and win. It was the energy that carried this show. Not so much from the performer himself. He played the role of the host of the coolest party in town.
Is 2 Chainz going to save the world with his lyrics? Probably not. Is Obama going to play his album at the next beer summit? Definitely not. And that’s OK. From fans of his underground work to the hipsters who love him ironically, 2 Chainz provides a visceral release with his swag-filled party music. Something some of his high-minded peers might want to look into if they want to connect with the people. The truth is his connection is real and was just short of sparking a full-blown mosh pit at the House Of Blues.