2 Chainz and Lil Wayne Both Dazzle and Disappoint on ‘ColleGrove’
When Kanye West confirmed the release of ColleGrove last week, rap fans rejoiced since there would be no more teasing another promised collaboration album that would never surface. The joint project between Lil Wayne and 2 Chainz was first announced by the latter back in November to little assurance from fans. Time and time again, both Weezy and Tity Boi have promised collaboration projects with other artists that end up just being empty promises. Luckily, the rappers actually put pen to paper and made it happen with the debut of ColleGrove.
The title is clever but ultimately deceptive. Combining both rappers’ hometowns (College Park, Ga. for 2 Chainz and Hollygrove, La., for Wayne) should be an indication that the album will be a perfect split of their respective musical prowess. But, a search for ColleGrove on iTunes, Spotify, Tidal or any other music service proves it's labeled as a 2 Chainz project with eight out of the 12 tracks featuring Wayne. Whether that categorization was thought out or not, it reflects the album’s artistic division. 2 Chainz takes control of most of the songs while Wayne lends his vocals here and there, rendering himself as more of a featured guest than co-collaborator. After the first listen, this really is 2 Chainz’s project with Wayne sprinkled over the tracks. There are even previously released songs like "Not Invited" from Chainz’s January mixtape, Felt Like Cappin, that show up here.
When Weezy does arrive, he enters five minutes into the LP on “Smell Like Money,” one of the better cuts. The Young Money leader opens with a potent 16-bar a cappella that stacks plenty of wild similes and metaphors over a classic Honorable C.N.O.T.E beat. Chainz finishes things off with a solid verse about the usual -- money, stunting on haters and women.
The album really hits its stride on “Bounce." By far the best track on the effort, Wayne and Chainz deliver a crazy back-and-forth rhyme fest. Weezy kicks it off with “My ceiling’s absent, my wheels are massive, my friends assassins/All of us bastards, our mothers queens and our women dancers/My rivers rapid, my fins are splashin’, my gills are flappin’/I bend some matches, then sip some gas and went kissed a dragon,” and then with a perfect transition, Chainz comes in spitting, “I’m really rappin’, I’m finger snappin’, I’m pistol packin’/Y’all niggas slippin’, my swag is drippin’, so here’s a napkin.” The song continues like this for the full four minutes. They may not be rapping about deep subject matter but the finesse in which they are passing off multi-syllabic rhyme patterns to each other is impressive.
From there, the LP dwindles off into a bunch of the same sounds and rhymes. “Gotta Lotta” is an Auto-Tuned ode to the life of excess, “Blue C-Note” features less than stellar rapping from Chainz with Wayne’s adlibs and “Bentley Truck” sounds like a combination of both. The biggest disappointment isn’t so much the rapping as it is the production. Aside from a few standout beats, major producers like Metro Boomin, Southside, TM88 and Mannie Fresh all deliver instrumentation that doesn't necessarily stand out knowing their history of crafting solid beats. The drums just don’t sound as crisp and the tempos don't switch up much. Both Wayne and Chainz strive on hot production, so their performance is ultimately hindered on those tracks.
Things don’t pick back up until the final three tracks. “Rolls Royce Weather Everyday” uses an unconventional beat from Lil C that gets both rappers out of their sometimes laid-back delivery. The bloodcurdling strings and choppy drums sound like something out of a Stephen King movie. Despite Wayne’s continuously recycled “keep the Maggie on me like Homer Simpson” line, both rappers perform legitimately well. “What Happened” and “Section” are also very solid songs. The former has a focused theme of love and loss while the latter questions why random people show up in their section of the club.
ColleGrove isn’t necessarily a letdown but doesn’t exactly exceed expectations. There are some moments of brilliance from both sides but overall, a collaboration of this magnitude should have stronger replay value across more songs.
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