Live: 2 Chainz Has All Eyes On Him At S.O.B.’s


2 Chainz w/ Marcus Manchild
Monday, January 30

Better than: Spending today watching the 50 or so videos that were taken during the performance.

2 Chainz is tall. I was going to guess 6’5″, but an internet answers site—and we all know how reliable they are—is telling me he’s 6’8″. Whatever the number, he needed every inch of it to remain visible over the mob of hangers-on, loose affiliates, and camera people, especially camera people, that surrounded him as he performed the best cuts off his two 2011 mixtapes, February’s Codeine Cowboy and November’s T.R.U. Realigion, last night at S.O.B.’s.

As a rapper, 2 Chainz’s success is based more on the thrill of recognition than the thrill of innovation: Both on stage and on record, he does little new but, from his flows to his beat selection, nearly everything well and—perhaps most important to his recent success—with a consistency that has grown increasingly rare. Anyone with a DatPiff account can tell you how few of the hundred of new mixtapes that appear on the site every day remain strong from track one through track 15. In 2011, 2 Chainz released two of them.

It came as no surprise, then, that their contents dominated last night’s set. After walking on stage to Juicy J’s “Zip and a Double Cup” (a song to which he contributed an admittedly unmemorable remix verse) and mean mugging his way through his own “Got One,” the artist formerly known as Tity Boi finally put his vocal chords to use as he shout rapped through “Kitchen,” a Lex Luger-produced, Flocka-paraphrasing banger that, placed before “Spend It” on the back end of Codeine Cowboy, served as one of the strongest closing, one-two knockout punches in recent mixtape memory.

“Spend It,” of course, accounted for three of the night’s most raucous minutes, and watching the amateur cameramen, desperate for any content that might make that domain name purchase seem like a reasonable investment, attempt to dance while keeping their equipment steady served as its own form of entertainment. We make the best out of our circumstances, I guess.

But it wasn’t just “Spend It.” 2 Chainz’s hooks, while uncomplicated on paper, become impossible not to chant when played at the proper decibel, and then when you’re walking to the subway the next morning. “I walk in then I turnt up / in then I turnt up,” “I’m a start a riot, I’m a start a riot,” “The dope man my muh’fucking role model / The dope man my muh’fucking role model”: None will crossover outside the rap blogosphere (“Shout out to my bloggers!” 2 Chainz at one point offered) or have you fiddling with iTunes to figure out what was just said, but all are reliably massive and, when laid out over the proper Luger or post-Luger beat, enough to make the man behind them one of the most popular rappers in the South, if not the country. “Someone told me this was sold out,” he at one point noted. “Looks like it to me,” his partner drawled.

Meanwhile, if 2 Chainz entered S.O.B.’s intending to focus on the present, wading into the his pre-2011 catalog only perform the “thousands pilin’/Thousand Island” “Duffle Bag Boy” verse that once upon a time announced his presence to listeners far beyond his native Atlanta, Houston opener Marcus Manchild was more than happy to put his city’s history on display for the New York crowd. That history began as Paul Wall, who, as Manchild’s DJ assembled his turntables, appeared lounging against the back wall. Upon closer examination, that DJ turned out to be Swishahouse founder Michael Watts—and hey, is that Slim Thug over there to right of the wall?

As it turned out, yes, and the three of them (Manchild knew enough to retreat into the camera’ed masses) teamed up to deliver their verses on Mike Jones’s “Still Tippin’,” a song now almost ten years old. Still, as far as the thrills of recognition go, this was about as good at it gets.

Critical bias A: Like 2 Chainz enough that I figured he was worth missing the Gossip Girl royal wedding for.

Critical bias B: SIMILAC!

Overheard: (As a rogue cameraman made his way through the crowd, shining his light on everyone with range) “This guy better get his shot, otherwise we’ll have no record of whether this concert actually happened.”

Random notebook dump: After 2 Chainz exited the stage, none other than Raekwon jumped up and called him back, using a line—”Come pay homage to me, son”—that, I saw when I got home, had taken over nearly my entire twitter feed. I’m sure that in certain circles, this one will be quoted as much as anything on Cuban Linx II.