How did 2 Chainz do it? How did the man formerly best known for playing second-string to Lil Wayne on “Duffle Bag Boy” become one of rap’s most talked about artists? Sure, the name change probably helped (Tity Boy isn’t too radio friendly), but to hear the man himself say it, the rise in popularity is due to one thing: griming.

Griming, according to Tity 2 Chainz, is a mix of grinding and timing, and that’s what the Atlanta MC has been up to. From flooding the market with feature appearances, to doing over 120 shows in 2011, the Playaz Circle member has been rapidly introducing the rap world to his new moniker, a hustle that has culminated in his recent mixtape release, T.R.U. REALigion. And for the most part, the dedication has paid off.

T.R.U. REALigion, is a solid, if conventional, testament to 2 Chainz’s hard work. The tape is at its best when Tity 2 sticks to 808-heavy, dread-shaking type music like the opening track, “Got One,” where the ATL rapper pays respect to his city over a dark, steadily building synth and muffled drums, or “Stunt,” the tape’s high point, where Tity and guest Meek Mill boast over the pounding production, reminiscent of most club bangers that have emerged from Atlanta in recent years.

However, so much on T.R.U. REALigion, is dependent on the quality of the production. When faced with sub-par or low-energy beats, 2 Chainz does not have the charisma or the lyrical ability to hold the listener, like on “I Got It,” where he spits lines like, “Get head while I’m reading, call it Facebook.” In the first half of the tape, it almost doesn’t matter what 2 Chainz is rapping about, because the production, provided by some well known (Lex Luger) and some less familiar names (G-Fresh, who laces 2 Chainz on “Stunt”), is so energetic that it becomes infectious. But when the tempo slows down on the second half—as on “Letter to the Rapgame”—or the beats don’t hit hard enough (“Money Makin’ Mission”), the tape beings to feel stale.

Still, even though T.R.U. REALigion, isn’t a groundbreaking or particularly wholly creative mixtape (some of the long-haired rapper's rhymes are actually simple but quite funny), when the subject is stuntin’ or ballin’ (or griming), 2 Chainz excels, and creates satisfying trunk-rattling music. That is when both the tape and the rapper are at their best: when the only goal is to get you to zone out and nod your head to the almost primal drums. That’s when the music, like 2 Chainz’ rise to fame, is volcanic. —Martin Spasov