2 Chainz Spotlights Soundtrack to His Life, Love of Strippers at Hollywood Show: Concert Review

Kyleen James
The Atlanta rapper presents a narrative of his rise with a straightforward, terse performance that balances heavy numbers with tongue-in-cheek levity.

“A lot of the images you see tonight are based on a true story,” 2 Chainz told the Hollywood Palladium crowd on Friday night as a preamble to his set. The Atlanta rapper, who is currently touring on what he has dubbed the 2 G.O.O.D. 2 Be T.R.U tour, alongside fellow G.O.O.D. Music signee Pusha T, was clear that both his songs and his live performance are a reflection of his actual life. This chronology meant that the show -- like the music itself -- was arranged by topic, veering from 2 Chainz’s rise to fame to his love of strippers to his personal tributes to those who have passed away. The rapper explained the title of his most recent album, last year’s B.O.A.T.S. II: Me Time, describing that the moniker’s acronym stands for “Based On A True Story.”

For 2 Chainz, music is about aspiration, about believing in what is possible and achieving it. His set opened with the word “Dream” plastered on three video screens onstage, a definition inscribed below. Black and white footage of notable triumphs followed, with everyone from Muhammad Ali to Kobe Bryant reveling in the sort of success the rapper seemingly hopes to embody. His opening tracks, too, reflected this, kicking off with Drake’s “All Me.” His 2011 single “Spend It” revealed the fruits of his labors as 2 Chainz rapped, “I’m riding round / I’m getting it / It’s mine / I spend it.”

Broken into several parts, the performance paused and veered in tone as reflected by 2 Chainz's wardrobe changes (the rapper donned three of his own merch items throughout the night and swapped his iconic double gold chains). One of those acts, was his own ode to erotic dancers. The sub-headline “Me Time,” he explained, could be anything, from going to the gym to getting your nails done. “Me time could be getting some head,” the rapper said to wild applause. “But I’m from Atlanta, Georgia and for my me time, I like to take it to the motherf---ing strip club. I love a stripper!”

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If you scan through 2 Chainz’s solo catalog, this seems an omnipresent topic. With the logo for Atlanta’s famous Magic City strip club emblazoned on the video screens, the rapper churned through abridged versions of “I Luv Dem Strippers,” “Twerk Season,” “Bandz A Make Her Dance” and “Birthday Song.” To his credit, the accompanying visuals remained black and white silhouettes, more artistic than sexual, allowing the songs to stand up without becoming oversaturated by their recurring theme. 2 Chainz brought opener Pusha T onstage for a rendition of G.O.O.D. Music single “Mercy” toward the end of the show’s second part, the rappers alternating the verses usually sung by label head Kanye West.

After disappearing to again change his chains, 2 Chainz offered a more somber feel in the latter segment of the show. “This is the part of the show where we pay homage to the niggas who ain’t here no more,” he told the crowd, dedicating a song to a friend who’d passed away and recalling the recent loss of his father. Of course, you can only stay sorrowful so long during a 2 Chainz show and the rapper quickly turned tongue-in-cheek as he transitioned to his single with Young Jeezy “R.I.P.” which features a chorus of “R.I.P. We just killed the club.”

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After he closed with “I’m Different” and “No Lie,” his single with Drake, 2 Chainz thanked the crowd and accepted the offer of a fur robe draped over his shoulders by a stagehand. There was no encore to embellish the 70-minute headlining set. But the rapper doesn’t seem much for an extraneous coda. Most of his songs were presented as shortened versions of themselves, and despite the few lulls as he went backstage to swap jewelry, there was no stasis in the performance -- 2 Chainz simply spit one track after another.

At one point, he paused to tell the audience how he was refusing to talk to the press because “I don’t feel like doing no motherf---ing interviews.” He said he was relying on the fans to spread the news that he’s working on a new album, that he’s launching his own record label and that he’s working on a movie that may or may not be real. “I’m trying to put out the very first 3-D sex tape,” 2 Chainz proclaimed. “I’m serious. We’re gonna get a Go Pro. We going with the Go Pro point of view.”

Like Pusha T, whose opening set was no nonsense and also featured just a microphone and a DJ, 2 Chainz seems interested in letting his lyrics be the primary focus of the show. The visuals lent a nice accompaniment, but didn’t distract from his raw, spitfire delivery. Of course, it helps that the majority of the rapper’s songs involve repeated chants of the words “2 Chainz.” That way, when you listen to the songs, you can’t help but be reminded of who is rapping them, even at the artist’s own show.  

Twitter: @emilyzemler