The Mount Rushmore Conversation is a trimmed-down reboot of the Top-Five Conversation, which is to say it’s really more of a shouting match about who the four greatest rappers of all time are, usually taking place in a barbershop or at a bar after the three-beer turning point. Tupac, Biggie, Big L, and Jay Z are usually staples, and Andre 3000, Lil Wayne, and Eminem are reliable alternatives. Who you choose is historically based completely on feeling, and right now — on this day of June 22 in the Year of Our Lord 2016 — this is who I feel should be up there:
Tauheed Epps, the man formerly known as Tity Boi, who briefly spent time as Teta Chico, and reached his glorious final form in 2011, reintroducing himself as 2 Chainz.
This is blatant, wilful, McGraw-Hill-textbook recency bias, but I don’t care, and also, fight me: 2 Chainz deserves to be chiseled into that rock face. The man saved rap when he rhymed “campaign” with “mayonnaise” on Kanye West’s “Mercy” in 2012. And now he’s busy saving that new Cruel Winter single “Champions,” too, by being the only one on the roster that sounds like he was really trying. After a drowsy couple of opening verses (with respect to the post-feds Gucci Mane feature; “my bitch drive a lamb, you should call her ma’am” is unassailable) the beat drops out and 2 Chainz swoops in with the rap equivalent of scratching the play and pulling up from 40 and draining a game winner. Cue the completely involuntary OHHHHHHHH:
I took a nap in the pulpit
I never like how a suit fit
I got a pocket full of money
It got me walkin’ all slue-foot
He also says that he wears pajamas to Ruth’s Chris. It’s very believable, and incidentally, hard as fuck — the latest case of 2 Chainz turning gleeful excess into solid matter, wielding it like a hammer. So much of what he says is ridiculous and nonsensical, but it somehow always makes perfect sense, and you feel every syllable. He doesn’t so much get away with what seems like superficial stupidity as make you feel like a square for having criticized it in the first place. He told Nicki Minaj that there weren’t any keys “in this doo-hickey” on “Beez In The Trap” and I thought, that’s totally a problem you would have with a push-to-start car. On “Birthday Song,” 2 Chainz said she had a big booty, whoever “she” was, and therefore called her “Big Booty,” and I thought, damn it really is like that sometimes.
No reference is too colloquial, no pun is too mazelike, and almost nothing is off-limits, but the rapping is only part of the reason for his recent resurgence.
Because there’s also that whole being a gem of a person thing. Case in point: 2 Chainz was recently asked by an interviewer to mind his coffee, and corrected her by saying, “Darling, this is chamomile tea.”
If 2 Chainz — wearing vintage Versace frames inside — quipping “darling, this is chamomile tea” with an upturned pinky doesn’t bring a smile to your face and give wings to your soul, then we’re definitely not friends, and you might even be police. There’s also his insanely enjoyable GQ web series “Most Expensivest Shit,” where, just like the title says, he goes around trying Expensive Shit. In the past, he’s handled a $10,000 bong and eaten a burger with 24-karat gold flakes on top. This morning, he gushed about the elegance of a disposable $50 Versace bib.
I don’t care who you are: seeing a man who claims to have sold dope to his mom on his most recent album, ColleGrove — a quasi-collaboration with Lil Wayne, and not-so-secretly one of the year’s best rap albums — in a nursery store eyeing a $5,000 stroller set is enjoyable on every level.
Same goes for him sitting courtside at Game 5, wearing a technicolored beanie that I’m going to choose to believe he crocheted himself, imbuing LeBron James and Kyrie Irving with the strength they would need to turn the tide of the NBA Finals.
His current run of form proves that he’s actually magical. There was the “I’m so high, me and God dappin’” feature on Chance the Rapper’s Coloring Book single “No Problem.” There was the “Watch Out” video in which he turned himself into a human reaction image. He compared shoes with Kehlani while wearing one blue Louboutin and one red. At this point, if you say you hate 2 Chainz, ninjas should come down on ropes.
So actually, forget Mount Rushmore — 2 Chainz deserves his own national monument. This year, at least, dude is top five humans of all time.