2 Chainz

Breakin’ 2 Chainz: Why Do Smart Rappers Make Dumb Raps?

“Sophisticated ignorance/ write my curses in cursive” – “Otis”, Kanye West and Jay-Z

When the controversial rap superstar, “2 Shackles,” granted an interview to an investigative journalist at the New Jersey Times, he agreed that it would be no holds barred. When the reporter grilled him on everything from his recent baby mama drama to his beefs with rival rappers, he addressed each question without flinching. Even when she pulled out a copy of the mugshot from his most recent arrest, he just smiled and autographed it for her. But when she asked him about the allegations that he had an extremely high IQ and graduated from college magna cum laude, he stormed out of the office, knockin’ over chairs and mumblin’ something about “birthdays and big booty guhs…..”

If you go strictly by what you hear on the radio, nowadays, you would swear that Hip-Hop was made up of people with low IQs and short attention spans. The music that once prided itself on being the “Black CNN” now sounds more like a pornographic version of Sesame Street. Sad thing is that some of today’s rappers are, actually, intelligent. Now, I’m not claimin’ that they are rocket scientists but they aren’t the bumblin’ buffoons, that you hear on the radio either.

So the question becomes, why do the smartest rappers make the dumbest raps?

Malcolm X once said the difference between a clown and a wise man is “the clown never imitates the wise man but the wise man can imitate the clown.” However, on a three-minute song on the radio, it’s kinda hard to tell the difference.

Case in point is the hottest rapper in the game right now, 2 Chainz. Some may find it hard to believe that the rapper who gave us such songs as “Birthday Song” and “No Lie” is actually Tauheed Epps , a gifted high school student who, in 1996, got an athletic scholarship to play basketball at Alabama State University; thus, putting him in the company of such athletic, scholar entertainers as Paul Robeson.

However, it would be easier to find your favorite rapper’s Illuminati membership card than it would be to find an actual record of 2 Chainz’s academic prowess. So the story goes that he was either an academic genius who graduated in three years with honors, or a college dropout who only attended a couple of semesters at an institution of higher learning. However, the fact remains that he is far more intelligent than the music that he makes. If you ever listen to an interview when 2 Chainz briefly breaks out of character and reverts back to Tauheed Epps, you can tell that you’re not dealing with a dummy.

So why the charade?

One can make the argument that the rappers of today were not the first to make dumb music. Back in Hip-Hop’s early years , there were songs by The Rappin’ Duke and Bobby Jimmy and the Critters. But raps by artists like Biz Markie were seen for what they were – comedy. The songs were just an occasional break from the more lyrically complex Hip-Hop of the time. No no one in his right mind wanted to hear “Pickin’ Boogers” all day, everyday on the radio. But today the airwaves are flooded with mentally-challenged music that has dumbed down the culture.

The defenders of commercial rap are always quick to point out how Hip-Hop is the most influential art form to ever grace the planet, and how it has impacted countries around the world, socially and economically. However, when you hit them with a socio-economic analysis of the music, they accuse you of “thinking too deep,” and all of a sudden, the great culture of Hip-Hop becomes merely “entertainment for kids,” like some Saturday morning cartoon. But the critique must be done.

If we break down the meaning of “2 Chainz, “ we will see that in order to enslave a people it takes two chains – one physical and one mental. Of the two, the most powerful is the mental chain as taught by scholars such as Dr. Na’im Akbar, author of the book, Breaking the Psychological Chains of Mental Slavery. Because even when the physical chain around the wrist is broken, the mental chain around the brain remains.

The emancipation from mental slavery has always been the hardest task for those trying to free a people who have been, as the scripture teaches, “destroyed for a lack of knowledge.” This is made more difficult when those who “reject knowledge” and dumb themselves down are portrayed to the youth as models of success.

However, all youth are not going for the okie doke. Recently, the group Watoto from the Nile released a video called “Letter to Nicki Minaj”, which features a powerful scene where “Harriet Tubman” removes the chains from Minaj’s wrists, symbolically meaning that the chains will eventually drop from her brain. (Good luck with that one.)

It is no accident that the deeper we entered into the information age, the dumber the music became. It was once said that ‘if you want to hide something from a Black man, put it in a book.’ But today, you don’t even have to take the bus to the library, as the information is literally at the tip of your fingers. So, the mental chains had to become reinforced. The music industry has been involved in a “brain drain” where they take our best and brightest artists and turn them into ratchet rappers.

While it may be argued that teenage rappers like Chief Keef are too young to know any better, that’s no excuse for rappers like 2 Chainz who are old enough to be their fathers. They have made a mockery out of the saying “with age comes wisdom.”

It’s time for us to break the chains. Hip-Hop artists must be pressured to stop the musical mumbo jumbo.

Like KRS said on “Still #1”:
“Many of you are educated/open your mouths and speak…”

TRUTH Minista Paul Scott’s weekly column is “This Ain’t Hip Hop,” a column for intelligent Hip Hop headz. For more information on the No Warning Shots Fired lecture series, contact info@nowarningshotsfired.com, visit NoWarningShotsFired.com, or on Twitter (@truthminista).

  • mosestobymcgeethree

    Is the part in italics a true story?

    • YaheardSyndicate

      its sattire

  • s0rethumb

    I have that book. As consumers we have the power. Believe it and eventually these adult “Crucial Conflict” nursery rhymes will go up in smoke like “hay in the middle of the barn”.

  • 1SOFLO1

    The best article I’ve read from this site in a long time.

    • hennessy89

      co-sign that. Been waiting a while for a decent article, very interesting

    • Bumpy Johnson

      word is bond

    • Sosa_Limone

      cosign

    • Nah, he drops every Monday on AHH, check for him!

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  • Your AllWays On Point My Brother !!! ((( YASIN360WISEGUY)))

  • Bumpy Johnson

    The music that once prided itself on being the “Black CNN” now sounds more like a pornographic version of Sesame Street.

    • Sosa_Limone

      lol best description of the state of hiphop i have heard in along time

      • Bumpy Johnson

        that shiz had me rollin foo

  • Abrasive Angel

    Keep revealing the truth, much respect to you.

  • Aaron

    What were y’all reading exactly? I saw an article completely set up to go one way, that very quickly dissolved in rambling conspiracy out of a half-baked Black Studies course. What could easily have been an indictment of a system that only supports the worst examples of ignorance and those who willingly give into it… Got lost in some barbershop book club mumbo-jumbo. Not feeling this article at all.

  • supereddyj

    This article does have some truth to it but there is clearly some HATE involved when you only single out the current artist who are making headlines and successful financially. I am not advocating ignorant music but “2 CHAINZ” does have some songs that are inspirational and motivational. Lets be honest at the end of the day he is an entertainer and he is out to make money he is not a preacher or politician. We all need to stop judging these rappers off of one or two songs take the time and actually listen to a mixtape or album before condemning them as ignorant.

    • John Hatfield

      there’s a lot of dope music out there, so if the first two songs blow on a mixtape, I’m moving on. You really think somebody should give Based on a TRU story a chance when they haven’t listened to Brother Ali’s new album, or Lupe’s new album yet?
      You see its all relative, and relatively 2 Chainz sucks

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  • gangsterrap

    it’s pretty annoying how people with no knowledge or understanding of art and music beyond hip hop simply dismiss rappers like 2 chainz, gucci, flocka, lil b, etc as dumb. and no i don’t think of this as “entertainment for kids” or that you’re “thinking too deep” (LOL). you think of yourself as a deep thinker but your simple dismissals without further explanation (you didn’t explain how 2 chainz music is dumb, you just declared it dumb) indicate otherwise.

    • Geri Carter

      exactamente

    • Exactly!…People confuse fact with opinion. A declaration doesn’t make something true. I would like to know how “dumb” sounds. Just because a person sounds intelligent it does not necessarily make them intelligent. People tend to hide their ignorance behind lofty words and ideas. Life experience has taught me that. Just because a Chinese person speaks a language I can’t understand it does not make them dumb. It just means that I don’t understand life from the context that they understand it from. The same goes with hip hop music.

    • thats what i thought

    • “I’m on my ‘chet! Man! Pamper on my side!” …Really?

  • Geri Carter

    you write with the assumption that ratchet and intelligent are mutually exclusive

  • Guest

    good read… kudos to ahh for the ft.

  • Pierre Elliott

    I WAS ALREADY TELLIN DUDES TO LISTEN TO LYRICS OF
    “IM STILL #1” AND I LIKE KRS BUT IM NOT A FANBOY, ITS JUST WHAT IT IS…..

    REALNESS IS NEVER A TREND.

  • People on here are speaking from a fans perspective, yeah the author
    singled him out, only because like stated in the article he’s “the
    hottest rapper in the game right now.” Why would he storm out when asked
    about how intelligent he is? Possibly because he’s hiding something
    right? and “Dumb” sounds like music with absolutely no meaning. Two
    chainz raps about absolutely nothing. Take Nas’ “Daughters” or Lupe
    Fiasco’s “Bitch Bad” then look at “I’m ridin around & gettin it” or
    “All I want for my bday is a big booty guh” You would think the tracks
    with the positive message & meaning behind them would get more radio
    play over the repetitive tracks with absolutely no meaning. Yeah I know
    “they’re completely different types of rappers”, but even back in the
    days most of the wack/non conceptional rappers had some sort of message
    that wasn’t all about hoes & trapping. Why do you think back in the
    days 2chainz had a failed rap career as tity boi? because hip hop was
    still hip hop & that garbage wasn’t allowed, look 8-10 years later
    & he gives it a second chance because people love repetitive
    nonsense about nothing now and he’s all over the place, on every
    supposed hot track that gets heavy radio & video spins. Chief keef
    is a dumber version of 2chainz & lil mouse is a dumber version of
    chief keef. It’s dumb how dumb these new artist are and how people are
    running with them as “dope” artist.

    • dominicancoke

      Damn thats so true

    • John Hatfield

      “back in the day”? That was still in the 2000’s homie, so you’re going to say that Tity Boi didn’t get hot because there were “real” hip hop artists like Nelly, Chingy, and Ja Rule getting airtime? Let’s be real

      • E.J.

        Co-sign with John.

      • Ouch!

        Nah, but them clowns were struggling to get in, this is on some Wack & Wacker type ‘chet…..with 2Chain being WACKER…….the wackest is yet to arrive.

    • Homie, you’re so right!

  • dominicancoke

    If mcdonald came up with a doo doo burger will you eat it? Same applies to most radio stations who play the same song all day and got you sheeps thinking is the best thing since medical marijuana cards. Most of these artist backedup by major labels are flimsy to begin with but add the expensive video the hot featurings and u have a product.i dont care for dumbed down raps I dont listen to them or judge them does a muslim judge pork? No he just doesn’t eat it for the obvious reasons no one should.

  • thatguywalt

    that was great i love it. i am so tire of the music that’s out right now most people clown on me for listing to immortal technique and lupe u know the very few that’s left but i am not feeling this music that’s out anymore.

  • johnblacksad

    watoto from the nile >>>>>>>>>>>>> ymcmb

    • Heartless_Bajan_Bastid

      My left nut>>>>>>>>>>>>.ymcmb

      • @johnblacksad:disqus My toes jams, after runninng 8 Full courts, in jungle boots, checking Lebron, on a hot July afternoon >>>>>>>>>>>>>>> ymcmb

  • Slaughtr

    FOR THE NEGRO NOT FEELING THIS ARTICLE YOUR FKN BRAIN IS LOCKED AND THAT’S WHAT THE FCK IS BEING EXPLAINED GET YOUR HEAD OUT YOUR ASS AND PUT IN THE DIRT SO I CAN KICK THE MOTHERFKA. THE TRUTH HURTS IGNORANCE DOESN’T LIKE TRUTH ONLY GARBAGE DNA.THIS SHYT I LIVE IS A CULTURE NIGAA NOT JUST LOVING BEATS,RIMS,CHICKS,LYING,FRONTIN,PRETENDING TO BE ,NO VOCABULARY,BITING,SAME SOUNDING ASS MUSIC,TAKE IT HOW YOU WANT I’LL DIE FOR HIP HOP AND THE PURE ORIGINAL EXISTANCE IT STOOD FOR.LIL YOUNG ASS NIGGA WITH NO OVERSTANDING. HIP HOP GAVE US A VOICE AND IF YOUR VOICE BESEEHES A BITCH THEN DON’T SPEAK FCKN PAWN.

  • Slaughtr

    I GUESS SAYING YOUR INTELLIGENT FCKS UP YOUR FAKE ASS STREET CRED SO YEA A NIGGA WOULD STORM OUT THE DOOR BECAUSE BEING SMART ISN’T HARDCORE WHEN IN FACT INTELLGENCE IS GANGSTA NOT GOING FOR AN OSCAR AWARD.

  • Slaughtr

    IF TWO CHAINZ IS THE HOTTEST RAPPER THEN HIP HOP IS BLEEDING FROM THE INSIDE.

  • Vonda Conway

    Great article very well written and very well put together!

  • YaheardSyndicate

    Its the people that dictate whats on the radio. Lauren Hill was on the radio 100 times a day and shes positive because thats what the people wanted. You would need a time machine, and go back in time to fix the problems that plague the Black Community. Alot of it too, comes from rappers being independent. All of the conscious rappers that used to sell when they had all eyes on them relied on the record labels and dropped an album every two years. Meanwhile indie cats from wherever dropped dumb ass songs every two hours, and got the music straight to the people. But even the rappers you though you could rely on to make some good music, started wanting to sound like everyone else. and now everyone sounds the same.

  • JimJames29

    Am I really the first one to mention… PLIES

    • E.J.

      Oh yeah, 2 Chainz is this year’s Plies (even though Chainz came before him). He’ll fall off fast too just like Plies!

  • NodAtsam

    Im willing to bet that this wonderful article will not make it into mainstream media…. national or black culture.

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  • Reblogged this on OkayTonyBeats and commented:
    I was always fascinated behind the mystique of Lil’ John being such an intelligent, highly accomplished individual (Harvard…), capitalizing off such seemingly two-dimensional culture with his music. Those that are so highly visible seem to focus their talents on marketing themselves rather than elevating their art form.

  • 2 Chainz 35 making this kind of music LOL

  • Julius K Nyerere

    This article is worthy of sharing.

  • 40

    Y’all just gonna pretend like the New Jersey Times exists right? That’s fake and so is the bit about graduating with honors. Don’t believe everything you read.

  • honestly man i think ppl listen to wat they wanna listen too honestly i like a lil bit of everything n two chains is more dimensional than ya think. have you heard one day at a time or letter to the rap game. Yea n most of that trap music is jus motivation just like gangsta hiphop. n even nas have some joints where he just talikn shit(nasty,summer on smash) which is ok cuz you need some of that pesonality…i dont mind bumpin a track about big booties sometimes cuz i like sex sometimes lol but i know that doesnt define me.

  • Mongo Slade

    DEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP ARTICLE!!!! Good commentary Truthminista… just posted to my twitter

  • gnigg_pleeze

    great now come up with a solution, reach out to some influential artists. this article alone isnt powerful enough to accomplish these goals. challenge stars to go beyond they’re comfort zone and encourage knowledge and achievement instead of sellin dope and bustin guns. i like the article but you ended it abruptly, with ideas that good you need to follow up on what ur talkin about.

  • Ratchet God Rep That Cap Life

    2chains is smart….he smart enough to know being lyrical does not sell anymore.think of lil b while most rappers trying to be the greatest of all time lil b was smart enough to say HEY!!!! i can be the worse rapper to ever touch the mic on purpose and still sell.

    • therealjjohnson

      It’s selling for Kendrick Lamar. He has sold more in his first week than Rick Ross and 2 Chainz first week numbers. Those are arguably the two “hottest” artist in the game right now.

  • Ratchet God Rep That Cap Life

    im gonna defend 2chainz and nicki even though im not fans and i came from the golden era of hip hop 90-2000.when you want to party and go crazy in a club im not putting on common or nas and im not trying to break down lyrics and metaphors.i want to hear a hot beat and can bop my head to and just have fun.thats when the waka flocka,gucci mane and any down south artist gets play.2012 we dont need another MLK or malcom x the message is out there for whoever want to find it.we had our 2pac and still got our nas and lupe fiasco to give music that makes you think but you should not be turning to music for substance and education its entertainment.2chainz makes hot songs to dance to and thats all i expect from him.nicki wants throw on crazy wigs and act a fool fine people should not look toward music and expect so much out of it when you can just open up a damn book for substance.

    • Weedras

      WORD!! need the real knowledge open a book or download one just like an album… i don’t look to no artist to teach me shit.. nor will i look to them to teach my kids.. i’ll lay the foundation myself!

      • But they are teaching your kids…..subliminally, so subtle….that even YOU don’t notice it.

      • Weedras

        i beg to differ on that… as i said if you lay the foundation your kid will be able to decipher for themselves and realize that most of what they talk about are merely stories just like that of a book… the thing with Hip Hop is that some or most ppl look to this shit as a gospel of some sort.. it aint that… and that’s when the lines get blurry and ppl lose themselves… nowadays ppl judge a rapper on whether they lived shit or not… i could careless they telling a story anyway.. hip hop is the art of story telling whether you lived it or not.. nowadays its abt who was a thug, who about that life and the other mixes of nonsense… and who is lapping i up and leading the genre down this path US… we influence rapper as much as or even more than they may do us. So unless you got low self esteem or you don’t have proper role models then you’ll let a rapper teach you nonsense…

      • When lions attack, don’t they attack the stragglers?
        While you are 100% correct, you also highlight the vulnerable when contrasting the strong.

        The kids without good role models…or the role models who don’t realize they are making mistakes, allow the kids to suffer.

        Playing the music around the youth, is akin to teaching them….like the abc’s…..knowledge put to rhythm is a very powerful teaching tool….so is Tricknowledge put to rhythm.

      • Weedras

        agreed..

    • E.J.

      You right about that. We gotta have our mix of “smart” rappers and “dumb” rappers. I don’t wanna listen to, bob my head to, or get down in the club to the same thing all the time.

    • BlackGod

      you’ve missed the entire point…

  • u can’t turn a basic person into a revelotionary every body is not out here for the cause two chains is here to do wat he does when there is a good and viable revolutionary artist he will be seen stop beating a dead horse 2 chains is a party rapper he makes club songs nikki does her thing her way wat is the problem with being urself?hip hop is forever changing i’m waiting for an artist who’s mission in life is to change the world and address the social ecconmic problem in our community it should be natural not forced tupac’s message was natural and from the heart the tupac message from two chain would be like lip stick on a pig going to college dosent make u a revolutionary i kno plenty of shallow college graduates i kno plenty of college students that are drug dealers u can amuse people by ur opinoin of what hip hop should be but the question u should ask urself is wat are u doing what can u do make a positive hip hop record urself stop knoccing people for being who they are it’s counter productive for are whole community that comes from the hate ourself sindrome we have to uplift each other what did this article help? it’s just us fighting us just like in the hood it’s us fighting us that illuminati talk is gosip never speak out ur lips what hasnt been seen with ur eyes tired of us always bullshittin thats why nothing ever gets done stucc in romurs trying to point fingers when shit been extra fucced up in our communities since we touch this side of the earth lets get real there ill be no revolution until we do

  • people dumb down their music so this type of website will give them props& have their music featured all over the site

  • Mitt_Romney2012

    Don’t blame the audience blame the consumer. The rappers are just making records that will sell. “I dumb down for my audience
    And double my dollars.” Jay Z Moment of clarity.

  • J.O.

    While I agree with the writer, this trend will not change. The only way
    it will, just like the NFL ref issue is that fans alike will have to
    boycott the radio and stop purchasing/d/l their music. You really think
    that will stop? I mean 2Chainz is “the hottest in the game” right? I
    dont want to bring the positive side of this article down but maybe we
    need to hold our fans accountable as well.

  • Tony G.

    AHH needs more of this….less Sydney Lace

  • Raffaele Casaroli

    great article!

  • WillVetterGoodin

    yep. Just waitin for that for her to actually put her name to use and use her mouth for something other than “singing/rapping”

  • Christopher John Crawford

    The guy who said he wants to hear 2chainz and Nicki at a party did not get it at all. If you listening to music for the beats just listen to instrumentals because those two don’t talk about shit.

  • As easy as it is to blame the rappers for the metastasizing of hip-hop, equal if not
    more blame should be placed on the individual/community. Chastising any rapper from 2 Chainz to Too Short only addresses one facet out of the myriad of problems. Hip hop is an extension of the community, and in order to truly bring healing to we must address the heart of the matter. Maybe we should be thankful that we have such appers to articulate the problems that plague our society so it can be used as a catalyst to bring change for the next generation? Has our designation of leadership
    boiled down to the sediments of popularity found on video count downs and magazine covers?

    I believe our problem is that we traded our double veil in exchange for a 60 inch flat screen following the Age of Industrialism. Now, instead of the viewing ourselves through the lucid lace of the veil, our double conscious is projected through a
    cathode ray tube which is solely meant to stimulate our minds and not our souls. Married with an action plan, we need to engage in a constant honest dialogue
    with ourselves and our communities that endure after CNN specials and weekly
    blog posts.

    Malcolm X also said “education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to
    those who prepare for it today.” With the infinite opportunities to access free information on the internet, it’s now up to the individual to dedicate as much time seeking knowledge as they spend on seeking ignorance. Change is eminent but don’t change the dial looking for it as the revolution will not be televised.

    Thanks for the article as it serves as a great catalyst for change.

    -TM

    • Whoa!

    • A little late for a response, but I wish there where more people like you in the world.

  • Big Dog

    Damn 2 chains probably more educated than yall lames on here hating on him and his type of music.. If you want to be educated go pick up a book and stop wasting your time deciphering lyrics this is hiphop which sole purpose is for ENTERTAINMENT I dont see nobody bashing Wesley Snipes, Denzel Washington, Nia Long, Halle Berry or no actors for putting dumb downed movies (Training Day, New Jack City, Friday, BAPS, etc) because its entertainment.. I go to school for 6 hrs a day and study and work the rest of the majority of the day and when I turn on my TV and radio I dont want to hear and watch no educational stuff I want to be entertained

  • This was actually a good article

  • Mitchell Patterson

    Rap was always about money. You had a few conscious rappers back in the day, but even they still promoted sex and violence. Flavor was smoking crack when PE released “Night of the Living Baseheads”. Rakim was on crack when he released his best music.

    KRS came in the game very much like 50 Cent – dissing all the old rappers and waving 9mm pistols. ATCQ would have songs praising “Black Queens” but be using them like dish rags backstage. X-Clan would have nothing but white chicks backstage (when they were overseas). It has always been entertainment.

    The real reason you had conscious rap leading the mainstream back in the day is because the gangsta shit wasn’t getting no airplay. The labels weren’t signing and promoting thug culture. In fact you had the opposite situation – thugs in real life pretending to be good guys. Once Priority(an independent) did the deal with NWA and other labels saw what kind of money was on the floor, the gangsta/sex music got green-lighted.

    Honestly, I like 2 Chainz. I find his music entertaining. In real life, people who want to learn will pick up books, people who want to be entertained will turn on BET. People complain, but I honestly think the kids today have it better than we did. We had no way of fact-checking what Ice Cube and Spice 1 was selling us. You had to make a trip to their neighborhoods to find out the truth. Nowadays, with Twitter, WSHH, MTO, SmokingGun and TMZ, rappers are exposed as frauds usually their first year in the limelight.

    If you want to know about Malcom, Martin, Marcus, Assata all you have to do is google. Hip Hop was never Black CNN – not really. Hip Hop is a black kid that made it out of the hood, had a bunch of plans about how he would change the world, but ultimately let the money and fame corrupt him. It’s an old story, really.

  • Some artists dumb down the music because they know that’s what sells! Their goal is to make money & they know that hip hop is promoted more when it is counter productive. There are some wonderful albums out there by artists most never heard of because the subject matter is more thought provoking than most (i.e. Apathy, Binary Star, One Be Low, Evidence, R.E.K.S., K Rino, etc.)

  • Changefora$20

    If the saying, “with age comes wisdom” had any truth to it, the term “old fool” wouldn’t exist… at any rate, I agree with the article….

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