2 Chainz @ Celebrity Theatre
Sometimes, old dogs learn new tricks. Consider Tauheed Epps, the Atlanta MC who has taken two stage names — Tity Boi for a decade and 2 Chainz for a more successful three years. Epps got his start in the rap game when Ludacris, then a fellow underground Atlanta rapper and DJ, signed Epps' duo, Playaz Circle, and released their first album in 1999. A few prison terms and additional cliché rap-game footnotes later, Playaz Circle released Supply & Demand, which included the Southern anthem "Duffle Bag Boy," featuring Lil' Wayne. The track seemingly set up the duo for big-boy moves, but in 2009, Playaz Circle's Flight 360: The Takeoff flopped. The album was focused and mature — everything you could ask of a veteran Atlanta rapper. But to Epps' Def Jam label bosses and consumers, the album was stale. Epps was caught between the old school and new media. He took notice. Following Flight 360, he released seven solo mix tapes until singles like "Look What I Got" catapulted him into what seemed like more guest appearances than Lil' B had original tracks in the past two years. To casual listeners, he suddenly appeared in their blog feeds and iTunes libraries — just another sensation gulping up their pitiful attention spans. Actually, Epps had traded in hard work and focus for hard work and unchecked proliferation — the new school's alchemy. In August, 2 Chainz' first solo album, Based on a T.R.U. Story, debuted at number one on Billboard. Perhaps no other rapper has enjoyed such ubiquity after such oblivion. Both fans and Epps can enjoy that.
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