By: Tommy “T-Rod” Rodriguez
Note: This is the beginning of a new series I’m starting that is focused on different forms of media that I’ve been experiencing, and why you should check them out. From albums, to artists, to shows, to even games, this is me just putting my thoughts out on stuff that I think is cool!
You ever listen to an album that you think is way more impressive than everyone gives it credit for? Music is obviously subjective, so not everyone will share the feelings for a project that you may have, but there’s some records that I think have stood the test of time far better than others. It’s a great feeling when you re-listen to these records and think to yourself “Damn, I forgot how good this album was!”
That’s Pretty Girls Like Trap Music for me.
In light of Southern heavyweight 2 Chainz’s new album rollout, I felt the urge to relisten to some of his albums, a good amount of which are actually quite solid. The most solid of these albums, to me, is the aforementioned Pretty Girls Like Trap Music…which is odd because I feel that the general consensus on this album is a collective shoulder shrug. A pop rap album loaded with trendy features and in-the-moment aesthetics was commonplace in 2017, so it’s understandable that this album may have fell to the wayside over the years. I don’t know why though: this is easily his best album, full of hilarious quotables and a hunger that was never before experienced on a 2 Chainz record. The beats bang, the singles were great, and it even had a distinct aura and presentation around it that separates it from the rest of his catalogue. It’s a perfect example of how a mainstream rap album should be done.
Before getting into the actual music of this album, I think it’s important to point out how great its marketing and rollout was. The album had a distinct marketing strategy that matched 2 Chainz’s sense of humor and his subject matter, starting up playlists on Spotify that shared the same name as the album, opening up a pop-up nail salon for fans to visit, starting up a clothing line with Trouble Andrew, and filming numerous music videos. My man Grant Robinson made a great point about artists nowadays not giving their all when it comes to albums, citing the truth that many LPs nowadays feel like “blips on the radar.” This album didn’t feel like that: it was an event, and it used every ounce of its quality to supply fans different avenues to experience it. From the hot pink aesthetic, to the music videos, to the duration of the album’s rollout (“Big Amount” dropped in 2016), this record felt impactful.
Now, all of this is irrelevant if the music doesn’t hit, but 2 Chainz packed HITS onto Pretty Girls Like Trap Music. Starting with the singles, they did a great job in showcasing what 2 Chainz would supply on this album. “Good Drank” is as smooth as butter, featuring luxury raps from 2 Chainz, post-jail flexing from Gucci Mane, and a Quavo hook that meshes perfectly with the Mike Dean piano and 808s. On the other end of the vibe spectrum, “4 AM” is a rowdy banger, featuring some of 2 Chainz’s most hyped deliveries and a Travis Scott hook that doesn’t derail the song but enhances it. This can be said for a lot of the features, to be honest: Migos kill “Blue Cheese,” Swae Lee’s hook is surprisingly emotional on “Poor Fool,” and Monica serves as an incredible bookend to the album on “Burglar Bars.” The features here are trendy 2017 rap features, sure, but everyone absolute pops off and works well off of 2 Chainz’s distinctly blunt style of hip-hop.
Speaking on the aesthetic of the album, PGLTM very much feels like a modern day rap record, giving equal amounts of bangers and melodic tracks. Instead of sounding like a playlist, however, it maintains that balance well because 2 Chainz chose his best production to date. They may have the typical pop rap drums and hi-hats, but other bells and whistles help each beat feel distinct. The guitar loop and heavy sub-bass on “Rolls Royce Bitch” is easily my favorite 2 Chainz beat, helping accentuate the brags and high energy hook that the man supplies. “It’s a Vibe” is perfectly named: that bass line is silky smooth and sensual, helping the Ty Dolla $ign, Trey Songz and Jhene Aiko features soar. “Bailan” was a song I initially didn’t enjoy, but I have so much respect for it now that I’ve listened to more Neptunes and Pharrell production over the year. It’s a tropical banger, perfect to play in a speaker by a beach somewhere with its bouncy drums and flutes. From the first few seconds of the album, you know that the beats are going to go in: the guitar licks on “Saturday Night” is cinematic as hell, slapping the listener in the face and forcing them to pay attention to 2 Chainz’s amped up songwriting.
Speaking on 2 Chainz himself, this album puts him in a unique position. Prior to this album, he may have been known by a good amount of people as a jokester, putting his emphasis on funny one liners and less on being serious. Nowadays, he’s more serious and straightforward, but he mixes the serious and the humorous in a fabulous fashion on PGLTM. “Saturday Night” and “Riverdale Rd” display this perfectly: his flexing is painted in a surprisingly inspirational way, both through his hungry delivery and his description of his old neighborhoods. While it may be a small touch, he tends to say things that are isolated in the production mix to emphasize certain lines and they just hit (“I know something you don’t know, I’m gonna get some bands” is cold). 2 Chainz even gets a bit sentimental on this album, talking about his mom on “Poor Fool” and reflecting on his career on the stunning “Burglar Bars.” When he’s not tackling his own family or background as a subject, he often goes for flex raps that are perfect as rise and grind bangers. “Sleep When U Die” and “Trap Check” are amazing tracks, bringing in monstrous energy in their production and pengame.
Even though these songs are serious, the album still includes tons of funny lines and humorous bits, separating 2 Chainz from a competition that tends to play their songs too self-seriously. “Gas in a Ziploc, now that’s loud and clear” is an easy contender for one of my favorite lines from him, and that’s only one example of numerous. Whether he’s talking about a greens-only diet on “OG Kush Diet” or singing to your girl like Drake on “Good Drank” he maintains a high level of consistency in his songwriting and energy: even though there are a few eye-roller bars, he makes up for it with a genuinely fun personality. Although I’m not the biggest fan of “Realize” as a song, the end of 2 Chainz’s first verse is absolutely hilarious, easily the most underrated line about mumble rap in modern memory.
And that’s kind of the way I’d describe Pretty Girls Like Trap Music: underrated. In the grand scheme of hip-hop, even in 2017, it may not be the end all be all of hip-hop, but it’s still a prime example of how to do a mainstream rap album. 2 Chainz and his guests come together perfectly on so many tracks here, providing listeners with not just great songs, but a great body of work. From the unique rollout, to the fire production, to 2 Chainz’s wicked songwriting, this is definitely an album I think any mainstream or upcoming artist can take notes on. Catch me listening to this as I await 2 Chainz’s next album!
Some Cool Things to Look Out For on Pretty Girls Like Trap Music:
- That beat switch on “Trap Check”
- Every verse on “OG Kush Diet”
- Those string samples on “Door Swangin”
- The feeling of ascending into heaven on “Burglar Bars”
- That zoo line on “Big Amount”
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