Atlanta rapper 2 Chainz has just released his new album Dope Don’t Sell Itself. HipHopDX breaks down the new 2 Chainz album.

2 Chainz is a unique case within the scope of legacy acts. Upon changing his moniker from Tity Boi and going solo after 15 years in the duo Playaz Circle, the College Park, Georgia native maintained a strong presence with consistent output. He provided countless memorable hooks, star-making features and one-liners that either thrived due to being clever or missed for being too predictable, yet still yielded laughs for their self-aware ribs at mainstream rap’s ridiculous boasts.

But in the latter half of the 2010s, 2 Chainz decide to lean into adding more substance and mainstream appeal to his albums, beginning with 2017’s Pretty Girls Like Trap Music. It was fully realized in 2019 on the Lebron James-A&R’d Rap or Go To The League, where he addressed the state of the country and advocated for financial literacy. While maturation is laudable within the rap game, ROGTTL didn’t land for some due to Chainz delivering indistinguishable Rap Caviar that Lebron probably made the Staples Center play during shootaround for promotion purposes.

It was a case of fixing what wasn’t broken. His tried and true formula allowed him to reach heights well beyond his 6’5” stature: Billboard No.1 albums, BET Awards, a Grammy Award and obliterating Nancy Grace live on HLN. The only thing left for him to accomplish is his bucket list JAY-Z feature.

2 Chainz’ seventh studio album, Dope Don’t Sell Itself, finds the Drenchgod at an identity-bound impasse. He mostly abandons his message-driven endeavor and tries desperately to revert back to why he’s beloved: booming production, humorous bars galore and an affinity for connecting with younger stars no matter how much the sound of rap has changed. In attempting to recreate his peak, he offers some familiar flows but mostly unimpressive lyrics that lean more toward grown-up nursery rhymes than his catchy, skillful couplets of days past.

“N-ggas ain’t aging well, they like Steve Francis,” he boasts with confidence on “Bet It Back,” unaware the flex will become an ironic self-prophecy. This is an album that desperately needed the “yes-men” out of the room. It lacks revision on both his and the guest spots’ end, coming across as studio riffs without the soul. The Hit-Boy-produced “Outstanding” fails to live up to its title.

Roddy Ricch’s chorus is carried by his charming hums but, much like Live Life Fast, is otherwise boring and uncreative: “I done got it out the mud like Sandman,” he drones, sounding as though he recorded his hook half-asleep. The sole highlight is 2 Chainz throwing a stray at Soulja Boy (“First rapper with a Versace deal, that’s a chain reaction/Soulja Boy ain’t do that”), which will likely lead to a retort on Twitter.

“Kingpin Ghostwriter” is an immediate ear-catcher due to its menacing tone. While hosting one of the better 2 Chainz verses on the album, it’s drowned by one of the weakest Lil Baby features of his current run: “He might be the two, he is not the one,” Baby spits. The hook on the Buddah Bless-laced “10 Bracelets” detracts from angelic harmonicas and a great showing from gritty crooner NBA YoungBoy.

Even “Pop Music,” starring usually strong feature artist Moneybagg Yo, settles for mediocrity with punchlines that hit worse than Shane McMahon at the 2022 Royal Rumble. At one point, Chainz made strip club anthems that penetrated all avenues of music with ease, but this below-average track won’t make an impact outside of the clubs that pay him to perform.

There’s one highlight in “Neighbors Know My Name.” 2 Chainz triggers ringtone rap nostalgia with a nod to Trey Songz’ seminal ballad over a flip of D4L’s 2000s hit “Laffy Taffy.” The once self-proclaimed Hair Weave Killer replicates the erotic tone of both records, bragging about the responses he elicits from women during coitus: “I bet the neighbors know my name, they call me ‘Oh fuck, oh shit’.” Meanwhile, “Million Dollars Worth Of Game” features the best beat of the project and a dynamic performance from 42 Dugg, but Chainz is merely along for the ride.

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When in need of a strong chorus or fun feature verse, one could always put the call in to Tity Boi. But his latest album suggests his best days are behind him, like Vince Carter on the Atlanta Hawks. And while he may be leaving the mantles of elite rap status, his contribution to the game remains secure.

But this album probably won’t get a re-evaluation like his past work; his attempt to dial it back displays the colorful and zany bars that once captured ears are long gone. People can always reflect on the glory days of “Mercy” and “Birthday Song,” even if the desire to stream his newer music has waned.