In Defense of 2 Chainz

You don’t watch Jason Statham movies expecting an Oscar-winning hit. His movies aren’t great, but they’re absurdly entertaining. We might talk badly about them or complain that they’re all the same, but we still undeniably and regularly watch his movies. If we didn’t, he’d stop making movies.

The same can be said about 2 Chainz. We don’t listen to his stuff because we expect him to be a great socially conscious rapper. We listen to his music because he’s entertaining, catchy, and he isn’t going away any time soon.

Trap music isn’t supposed to be socially conscious. Trap is technically a genre that glorifies wealth and drugs, but it’s also a place where “big booty” can rhyme with “big booty” and “fuck” can rhyme with “fuck.” It’s stupid at times, and we might complain when it comes on the radio, but if we weren’t listening, it wouldn’t be around.

When someone said that Waka Flocka Flame was the best rapper on the scene, he’s said to have laughed, and said, “Man, I make party music.”

There’s no deeper meaning to trap music; it’s party music, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Trap rappers aren’t trying to be the next Nas or Tupac. They’re trying to party.

But, we have to remember: Just because a rapper makes a socially conscious song, they’re not necessarily a socially conscious person. And more importantly, just because a person doesn’t make socially conscious music, they’re not necessarily a non-socially conscious person.

Yesterday, Badger Senate executive director Austin Johnson wrote an article criticizing MUSIC Matters for bringing 2 Chainz to campus for their annual SpringFest fundraiser. He said “to make the headlining event a show by 2 Chainz mocks the ultimate message of the entirety of SpringFest itself.”

I’m here to disagree with him.

According to MUSIC Matters’ Facebook page, their mission is “to establish a strong commitment to public service and to develop a deeper sense of camaraderie among University of Michigan students, faculty and staff by putting together a concert each year that raises awareness and support for important charities.”

I believe that 2 Chainz has the opportunity to fulfill this mission statement for MUSIC Matters.

2 Chainz may be a performer of trap music, and sure, he has some awful lyrics sometimes, but don’t most artists? Not everyone on scene can create socially conscious songs like Nas (who is undoubtedly a better rapper than 2 Chainz). But that doesn’t mean that 2 Chainz is a bad person for the community to admire.

After growing up in Atlanta, 2 Chainz attended Alabama State University on a basketball scholarship. It’s rumored he graduated with honors, but I also found sources that say he dropped out. He’s hidden his past behind so many layers of ridiculous radio rap that no one actually knows the truth. He didn’t actually get big in the music scene until his 30s, and now that he’s there, he may have had a couple run-ins with police, but he’s also using his fame to help people.

2 Chainz is a philanthropist. Last fall he ran a can drive in Michigan, bringing more than 4,000 cans to Michigan food programs. He also regularly hosts charity concerts, participates in charity basketball games, runs toy drives, and joined forces with his fiancé to run T.R.U. Foundation, which is an organization that helps domestic violence victims, those in poverty, and those who lack access to quality education. He’s also an avid cook who recently released a cookbook that focuses on healthy seafood dishes.

Sounds like he’s trying to bring the community together and raise awareness about various charities. Wait, isn’t that MUSIC Matters’ main mission? For those who don’t want to scroll up: it is.

2 Chainz doesn’t make deep music. Deep, meaningful music isn’t for everyone. He makes songs that glorify wealth and drugs some might be downright offensive, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s not a socially conscious person. We can’t criticize a person for their lyrics; lyrics can only be used to criticize the music itself.

The funds raised at this year’s concert will go toward the MUSIC Matters Big Thinkers scholarship, a scholarship that donates funds to a summer leadership camp for at-risk youth in Detroit. Based on 2 Chainz’s community involvement not only in his own hometown, but all over the United States, I think he’s a great candidate to be the face of this fundraiser.

In his article, Austin Johnson criticized 2 Chainz’s role in the five themes MUSIC Matters has created for SpringFest: arts, identity, innovation, social justice, and sustainability.

Arts: He’s a musician, (sort of) poet, and cook. Identity: 2 Chainz knows exactly who he is and has no problem with identifying as a trap rapper. Innovation: He might be creating radio rap, but he’s doing it with sounds I haven’t heard from other artists. Social Justice: We’ll start with T.R.U. Foundation, move onto can drives and charity basketball games to start, and I’ll let you look into the rest. Sustainability: I don’t think 2 Chainz is going away any time soon.

I say buy a ticket, have fun, and support the offstage 2 Chainz. He’s doing some great work to help the community.

Tickets go on sale March 27, and the show will be on April 10 at Hill Auditorium in Ann Arbor.

Written by Kelly McLaughlin