T.R.U. University
2 Chainz

2 Chainz has always been partial to keeping his musical branding on the straight and narrow. Most of his albums and mixtapes have followed the T.R.U. signature, giving fans a winning formula to keep coming back to. The rapper really has become the master of the surprise mixtape drop -- something that most artists can’t pull off well. A similarly engaging trajectory is happening recently with his Asian-themed mixtapes: August’s Daniel Son; Necklace Don and now Hibachi for Lunch.

These tapes aren’t necessarily an ode to the Orient or sonic representations of the Far East but their titles, obviously Asian-inspired, carry a bigger meaning for 2 Chainz. On Daniel Son, it was his rise to rhyming sensei status and on the seven-song effort Hibachi for Lunch, 2 Chainz is declaring his appetite for hot beats and wack rappers.

“Gotta eat me a rapper today/I forgot to eat, fuck it” is the first line Tity Boi spits on the seven-track mixtape’s opener “Countin.” The Atlanta native always seems to dish out the most oddly clever punchlines when you’re least expecting it. He truly is one of the only rappers today that can make “Sippin' codeine with the scallops” sound like a dietary flex, while also making “Bet a hundred thousand with the Falcons/Lost a hundred thousand with the Falcons” sound like he merely lost a $3 scratch card.

“Good Drank” with Quavo and Gucci Mane is by far the tape’s best cut for two reasons. First, Mike Dean’s silky production gives Chainz, Gucci and Quavo the chance to do more than make a dab-inducing track. The peaks and valleys of the keys and baseline allow for a strong chorus and equally tight verses. Secondly, 2 Chainz finishes his verse with the most “funny because it’s true” line perhaps of all time: “I look you right in your face/Sing to your bitch like I'm Drake”. Tru.

As much as you want to laugh at the ridiculousness of 2 Chainz’s punchlines and metaphors, he manages to sprinkle some wisdom into a few passages. “Lil Baby,” an ode for the ladies, with Ty Dolla $ign has Chainz sneaking in some of that classic rags to Rollies motivation with lines like “Pull up 10 cars deep, you can't get rich off sleep.” If anyone knows about grinding for an extended period of time, it's 2 Chainz -- putting together well-crafted mixtapes didn't happen overnight. There is obviously a little redundancy when all Chainz raps about is his wealth, women and weed but there's no doubting the grind he’s been through to make those luxuries a reality.

The Atlanta apex comes through in full force on “Doors Open” with Freebandz frontman Future.  TWhy and DJ Paul’s beat is so authentically ATL that really only Chainz and Future could do it justice. The downside, however, to this Dirty South procedure is that we’ve heard it literally a million times before. Loud bass, sharp snares and rolling drums forever bring out generic bars about trapping and dabbing, which is no direct discredit to Chainz and Future; it’s just the result of the common turn up times we live in. Thankfully, Chainz throws in perhaps the best line on the entire tape: “I don't believe in karma, but I believe in Kama Sutra/Put one leg on the other leg/Then I skate away like Winnipeg.”

The Hibachi for Lunch closer is “Here We Go Again,” which is in fact the best way to sum up this entire project. 2 Chainz delivers exactly what we want from him -- head-turning lines, solid beats and an aligned mixtape theme -- but the tape is missing that wow factor. Perhaps he's saving the greater product for an upcoming album -- this is only a seven-song project after all. The new music is satisfying but by the same token leaves listeners wanting more. As 2 Chainz eats up these wack rappers, his next effort should be a more substantial meal.

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