Based on a T.R.U. Story
This is about as money, drugs, and hoes as it gets people. There are two tracks called “Money Machine” and “Crack”, which respectively cover the money and drugs categories by their titles. Beyond that, the chorus for “Birthday Song” features a hook which not only covers the “ho” aspect of T.R.U. Story, but also pretty accurately describes every adolescent boy’s birthday wish when blowing out the candles, “All I want for my birthday is a big booty ho”. So that’s something relatable I guess.
This not to say Based on a T.R.U. Story lacks in occasionally being quality entertainment. I just think that a few hot guest verses created a set of unrealistic expectations for 2 Chainz. Everyone seems to look good working with Kanye, like 2 Chainz did on “Mercy”, and his verse on Nicki Minaj’s “Beez in the Trap” was a breath of fresh air on a somewhat painful record. Because of these and other nice guest spots, something between hope and legitimate expectation developed for 2 Chainz to release what Rick Ross, David Banner, and Young Jeezy haven’t been able to this year: a fancy-packaged big-box rap album that delivers on all fronts.
Unfortunately, despite coming out of the gates with a lot of ambition, T.R.U. Story fails to deliver across the board. Seven out the first eight songs hit really hard, and keep on hitting. There is no questioning 2 Chainz’ desire to throw everything he has into energetic delivery and often-humorous couplets, which is a point of concern with Lil’ Wayne after his last release. The issue lies with some of the production, which while tight, tends to run together at a few different points. Beside “No Lie”, which is already a a hit, there is nothing in this big production that says “hit”. Not that every album has to have a bunch of hits to be good, but with this scope of hip-hop, hits are often the best tracks.
“No Lie” sure is a great track though. The production isn’t groundbreaking, so while I hate to admit it, Drake’s performance is what takes the “No Lie” above the cut. What starts off as a run of the mill Drake singing chorus transforms into a rap chorus, and then into a brutalizing full verse from Drake. Sandwiched between a couple money verses by 2 Chainz, “No Lie” pretty easily brings the most steady-handed track on the album proper.
I say “album proper” because unlike a lot of deluxe editions, the bonus tracks on T.R.U. Story hold up to and even exceed the regular version. I am shocked that “Countdown” and “Like Me” didn’t make the regular version of the album, just because they feature Chris Brown and The Weeknd respectively. They would have been welcome replacements of the two other tracks featuring high profile crooners, “Extremely Blessed” (The-Dream) and “In Town” (Mike Posner).
“Countdown” is almost the perfect combination of hip-hop with dub-step, and one of the tracks where 2 Chainz works best with the beat, instead of overstepping what the production allows him. Chris Brown, as always, also does a very nice job with the hook. Likewise, The Weeknd kills it on “Like Me” with a lo-fi sound that you rarely hear on big production hip-hop albums. Any rapper who isn’t trying to commission The Weeknd for their album at this point is making a dire mistake.
Despite almost every track having something to enjoy, whether it be the production, one-liners, guest appearance, etc., very few of the tracks are able to put it all together. And even when everything is put together, the song is usually good, but not great. In addition, all four of the bonus tracks should have made it onto the album over other selections, and I feel bad that those not getting the deluxe edition will be deprived. All in all, Based on a T.R.U. Story is not a bad album, just one that came with too many expectations that didn’t deliver, meaning I’ll be looking forward more to 2 Chainz guest verses in the future than full albums.
Can’t Miss: “Countdown” (feat. Chris Brown)*, “Like Me” (feat. The Weeknd)*, “I Feel Good”*, “Yuck” (feat. Lil’ Wayne), “No Lie” (feat. Drake), “I Love Dem Strippers” (feat. Nicki Minaj)
*denotes bonus tracks
Can’t Hit: “Extremely Blessed” (feat. The-Dream), “Stop Me Now” (feat. Dolla Boy), “In Town” (feat. Mike Posner)