At 39 years old, 2 Chainz is no spring chicken in hip-hop, but by no means is he over the hill. If anything, his past few releases have only seen him get better with age, as both his penmanship and technical skill have grown beyond his punchline-laden debut and sophomore full-lengths.
Pretty Girls Like Trap Music is the Southern vet's most fully formed record to date, building on the spirit and sonics of last year's Daniel Son; Necklace Don and Hibachi for Lunch to paint a portrait of Chainz then and now, leading two very different lifestyles yet unequivocally himself.
"Saturday Night" finds Chainz standing in his designer kitchen, pleading "Please don't make me relapse, make me start back trappin'," reflecting on his dealing days and then name-checking his wife and three children before the verse ends. He tells of late nights cooking drugs in the kitchen before admitting he's addicted to the rice at Benihana.
On "Trap Check," Chainz says he's in "rare form," and it's hard to disagree. Sure, there are a few duds ("I hope you got a clean vagina" on "4 AM"), but it's hard not to crack a smile as he channels the Based God in later proclaiming, "Right now, if you hear this, you're a miracle, I want you to know that."
Don't let the title fool you, as Chainz goes beyond what's expected from a "trap" album in 2017 for a few curveballs. Clean guitars string their way through "It's a Vibe" and "Rolls Royce Bitch," while "OG Kush Diet" delivers an expert beat switch in time for Chainz to dive headfirst into the third verse.
In closing the album, "Burglar Bars" opens with a snippet of Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan saying that upon meeting Chainz for the first time, he "was in the presence of royalty." If Pretty Girls Like Trap Music doesn't make the rapper an immediate king of the South, it undoubtedly puts him in line for the title. (Def Jam)