2 Chainz: the evolution from Tity Boi to Big Toni

2 Chainz: the evolution from Tity Boi to Big Toni

Hey, you. Yeah, you. How’s your day going? Do you have time for me to tell you about the evolution of 2 Chainz? How he went from Tity Boi to Big Toni? Okay, cool. Have a seat. You need to hear this so you can comprehend his latest album ‘Rap Or Go To The League.’

You see, in the beginning there was little Tauheed Epps. A young kid in Atlanta whose dreams were limited by resources, but his imagination dared to dream different. After playing college basketball, his hoop dreams eventually turned into rap dreams. I mean, why not? He is from Atlanta.

That’s how we get to Tity Boi. Tity Boi got it out the mud and didn’t need rapping to make money. He was already certified in the streets and verified before Instagram. No blue checkmark needed. He realized the rap game was much easier than… you now, other lifestyles. So, why not give it a try?

Tity Boi grew up in Atlanta so the southern hip-hop influence ran through his veins. The Dungeon Family gave him the blueprint of what he could achieve. He witnessed their greatness unfold and waited for his moment. It was only a matter of time.

Tity Boi and his childhood friend Dolla Boy formed the rap group ‘Playaz Circle.’ A feature from Lil Wayne on the single “Duffle Bag Boy” would accelerate them to mainstream success.  Maybe this is when you started paying attention? Or was it ‘Spend It?’ Anyway, the bandwagon always had enough room to bring in a new fanbase.

Fast forward about 12 years after ‘Duffle Bag Boy,’ and now there’s Big Toni. Okay, you’re probably asking, who is Big Toni? And why does this man have so many different names? That’s a very good question. It really is. So, simply put Big Toni is what 2 Chainz now refers to himself as on social media and in interviews.

He speaks of Big Toni in third person, as an embodiment of the man he’s become. It’s been a long journey. Toni has arrived. He’s an entrepreneur, a husband, father and a businessman using his platform to go after his next goal: the throne. What’s up HOV?

His fifth studio album ‘Rap Or Go To The League’ has a powerful message. There’s another option that’s not on the album title. What he’s trying to say is… you can rap, go to the league or carve out your own lane of black excellence. You don’t have to be limited by those two options. You can achieve greatness in your own way.

What’s different about this new project is simple. The entire album is not for radio. But radio will play it, though. This album is not for the clubs or the Billboard charts. But it’ll get love from both.

You see, this album is for the young Tauheed’s who daydream about their future. It’s for the young artists to remind them that hip-hop is bigger than rap. It serves as a reminder that hip-hop doesn’t kill. Jealousy does. Hate does. Beefing over insignificant things does. Being ’bout that life’ and not knowing how the consequences affect the whole community does. Hip-hop is for the culture and this album is trying to move the culture forward. That’s the responsibility Big Toni takes on.

‘Rap or Go The League’ is for 2 Chainz. Quite possibly the first album where he’s prioritizing himself and his artistic vision. This album is a tribute to his life story. It shows who he’s become. It’s the fruit of his labor. The emotional vulnerability in the song ‘Forgiven’ shows his maturity and wisdom. He opens up about the struggles of his childhood and his days of being the neighborhood & industry ‘plug.’ But most importantly, how he turned his life around.

The album speaks for itself. Each track is a chapter of his autobiography that has yet to be written. You can tell this is the early stages of 2 Chainz documenting his own story. We’re now in an era where rappers are releasing documentaries about their life while they’re still progressing in the industry. This is a glimpse into what that story would be. He’s controlling his own narrative.

Now back to Big Toni. You see, Tity Boi wanted to be successful like Wayne and get hometown love like Andre. He did that. Alright, cool. Toni, though. He wants to cement a legacy far greater than rapping. Toni wants the throne. It doesn’t matter who’s sitting on it. You can argue about that all you want. He just wants it.

Big Toni wants to be brought up in conversations about the “greatest rappers of all time.” He wants to be respected and recognized as a G.O.A.T.

You see, that’s what ROGTTL is all about – dreams fulfilled and goals still left to accomplish. In his album,  he takes on big topics that reflect on social issues, socio-economics, financial literacy and the need to stop gun violence.

To this day, he admits to feeling like the underdog – underrated and overlooked. But that’s how 2 Chainz has always managed to thrive. Like he has something to prove even when he’s already proven his worth in the industry. This album proves that he can pivot in a different direction and lyrically drop 16 bars about heavy content. Toni proves depth has a space in Atlanta’s current hip-hop scene – a scene often times stereotyped as a city full of mumble rap. Um, that’s false.

Wow, you made it to the end of this post? Congratulations. I hope you enjoyed this story about Tity Boi and Big Toni. If you were confused in any way, that’s totally understandable. I’m sure there will be an autobiography that will come out in a next few years along with a biopic. This was just a quick summary. Okay, you can go back to listening to Big Drako. That’s whole ‘nother story for another day.

Sincerely,

@NeimerDreamer, your favorite news lady from Atlanta with good music taste. #ATLCulture (Neima Abdulahi)

NeimerDreamer’s #Top6 (sorta) new songs of the week

NeimerDreamer’s #Top6 (sorta) new songs of the week

uzi

1. Lil Uzi Vert – 20 Min
icetrey2. “Ice Tray” – Quavo & Lil Yachty
work in progress
3. Gucci Mane – “Work In Progress”
boosie
4. Lil Boosie – “Webbie I Remember”

zaytoven

5. Zaytoven Feat. Quavo & 2 Chainz – Wake Up & Cook Up 

juicyj
6. Juicy J Feat. ASAP Rocky & Project Pat – Feed These Streets

Recently murdered rappers share striking similarities: They ‘got it out the mud’ and had next

Recently murdered rappers share striking similarities: They ‘got it out the mud’ and had next

image2Hip-hop doesn’t pull triggers. Jealousy does. Anger does. The storyline of murdered rappers in the hip-hop game has striking similarities.

Young rappers who ‘got it out the mud.’ Emerging stars who had next, but next never came. Artists who never had nothing handed. Took nothing for granted. But somehow managed to get a glimpse of the good life – successful mixtapes, radio buzz, hometown name recognition, support from well-respected artists, strip club DJs, and grassroot campaigns in the streets.

When you start getting that kinda love, you start feeling like Clayton County’s Jigga man. Montgomery’s BIG. Or even Bankhead’s Puff.

We witnessed their come-ups. Bankroll Fresh. Doe B. Slim Dunkin. Dolla. Lil Snupe. Yung Mazi.

Yung-Mazi-Shot-AgainAugust 6, 2017. Atlanta’s very own Yung Mazi was shot multiple times outside of a pizza joint. The talented Kevin Gates affiliate survived prior shootings that could have easily taken his life. His death was mourned by the entire hip-hop community, serving as a reminder of just how dangerous the rap game can be.  Jibril Abdur-Rahman was murdered at 31 years old. The case is still unsolved.

bankrollMarch 4, 2016. Bankroll Fresh was killed outside of a recording studio in Atlanta. Fresh was big timing for an independent artist. Worked with 2Chainz, Gucci Mane, Jeezy, Zaytoven and so many others. His song “Hot Boy” had the streets on lock. It was an instant new anthem. Couldn’t go anywhere without hearing it. Street Money Worldwide was his life. He wore it like a badge of honor. Fresh died at the age of 28. Trentavious White’s murder is still unsolved.

lil snupeJune 20, 2013. Meek Mill’s protege Lil Snupe had it all figured out at a young age. The 18-year-old Dream Chasers rapper who was on the rise died from multiple gunshot wounds in Louisiana. The teen had the rap game’s attention. Boosie Badazz worked with him. DJ Khaled. Trae Tha Truth. The GOAT Curren$y. Artists hustle for decades to even hop on a track with one of these big name artists. But Snupe did it. At just 18 years old, he live out his dream. Now we may never know how far he could have taken it. Rest in peace Addarren Ross.

DOE-BDecember 28, 2013. Up-and-coming rapper Doe B was shot dead at a nightclub in Montgomery. He was signed to T.I’s label Grand Hustle and managed by DJ Frank White. I remember the buzz he was getting… so unreal. “Let Me Find Out” was just starting to blow up. His mixtape Baby Jesus was popping. And then it all ended so fast. So soon. The South’s Biggie gone before he could prove to the world he could be just as famous as Brooklyn’s Christopher Wallace. Glenn Thomas was dead at 22 years old.

slim-dunkinDecember 16, 2011. Slim Dunkin gunned down before he reached his potential. If you followed the Atlanta rap scene back then, you’d know Dunk has been making noise on his collabs with Waka Flocka Flame. The Clayton County representer was a rising star on Bricksquad Monopoly. He was also close friends with Gucci Mane. While at a recording studio, a fight broke out and then someone pulled out a gun. Killing Mario Hamilton. He was only 24 years old.

dolla

May 18, 2009. Atlanta rapper Dolla had just signed with Akon’s Konvict Musik and was just about to finish up his debut album. With industry ties to Akon, T-Pain, Diddy and Missy Elliot, the young rapper had stardom potential. Dolla was in Los Angeles to finish his album when he was shot dead. Gunned down at a shopping mall. Roderick Anthony Burton II was just 21 years old.

All these rappers left too soon. Their family members probably wonder every single day what could have been. They all came from humble beginnings. So humble, it’s hard to distinguish which struggle is connected to which town. Somehow Clayton County shares the same pain of Montgomery and Baton Rouge if you listen to all of their lyrics.

We don’t have to know exactly who murdered them to know it most likely stemmed from jealousy and hatred. Every industry veteran will tell you that. As a reporter, I’ve interviewed Bankroll Fresh’s family multiple times and talked with Yung Mazi’s friends for our breaking news coverage on 11Alive News (the NBC affiliate in Atlanta). They all express the same pain. The industry tends to have an idea of who got next years in advance. But, someone may not want to see you shine if they can’t.

They all attempted to make it out of the trap… like the previous generation of murdered rappers: Tupac (unsolved). Jam Master J (unsolved). Notorious BIG (unsolved). Soulja Slim (unsolved). Mac Dre (unsolved). Big L. and so many more.

As many cases of murdered rappers remain unsolved and more aspiring artists like Bambino Gold lose their life before they reach their dreams, it’s easy to blame the entire genre. That’s the blame game we’ve been hearing since hip-hop started to become a reflection of the environment the artists hail from. That’s why the legendary Chuck D said hip-hop is the CNN for the streets.

But now, more hip-hop artists are reaching out to the youth to send a message that violence is NOT the answer. To not always mimic what they hear and see. To handle their conflicts in non-violent ways. Maybe this will help save the future generation of rappers coming up. You know, aspiring artists hoping to make a name for themselves. Hoping to make it out the mud and make a mill. Long live Bankroll, Snupe, Mazi, Dolla, Doe B and Dunk.

Author: Neima Abdulahi, news reporter for 11Alive News (NBC Atlanta). Follow me on Instagram: NeimerDreamer