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Life Lessons From 2 Chainz’s ‘Rap or Go to the League’

The Atlanta rapper’s new album is teeming with useful advice on topics ranging from fatherly duties and car maintenance to paying taxes and landscaping

2 Chainz Getty Images/Ringer illustration

Last week, The Ringer ran a feature written by Rembert Browne about 2 Chainz on the occasion of the darling rapper’s fifth studio album, Rap or Go to the League. The meat of the profile was a transcribed interview session, which included the following from 2 Chainz about his new release:

“With the title of the album, Rap or Go to the League, it’s more of an audiobook type of vibe. It’s free game, you unconsciously just might pick up on some type of knowledge but in a cool way, you know what I’m saying? We have to keep the kids engaged. So I talk about everything from taxes to the NCAA and they all have substance to them, they all have concepts to them, and they’re all personal things that I’ve been through.”

So, same as we did with Clipse’s Hell Hath No Fury and Missy Elliott’s Supa Dupa Fly, here’s a look at some of the lessons baked into Rap or Go to the League, which is a fun and good and entertaining album.

Don’t try to get an animal to do something they otherwise wouldn’t do.

Never see me tryna walk a sheep. —2 Chainz, “Threat 2 Society”

This makes sense. People (usually) don’t walk sheep, the same as people (usually) don’t walk cats or rhinos. But here’s the thing, and something that I was surprised to learn: People actually do walk sheep. They do it when they’re training them to show them at competitions, similar to the way people train dogs to show them at competitions. There are actually a bunch of YouTube videos about it, which I did not know until I typed “how to walk sheep” into the Google search bar. But what’s even better is that if you dig around long enough, you’ll eventually come across the following video, which is better than a video of someone walking a sheep. Instead, it’s a video of a sheep sitting in the back seat of a car with its top down wearing sunglasses and listening to 2 Chainz.

(My favorite thing about the sheep listening to 2 Chainz video is the meta-poetry of it all. What I mean is 2 Chainz is a master-level braggart. It might be his greatest skill. There are moments on each of his albums where he wanders into a creative territory other rappers might consider too bizarre, and it is almost always exhilarating. Some excellent examples: “She got a big booty / so I call her ‘Big Booty’”; “My wrist deserve a shout-out, I’m like, ‘What up, wrist’”; “My girl got a big purse with a purse in it / And her pussy so clean I can go to church in it.” Anyway, I say all of that to say: If any rapper was ever going to brag about a sheep wearing sunglasses in the back seat of a convertible listening to their music, it’d be 2 Chainz.)

(“Sheep in the back seat, he’s like, ‘Baaaaaaaaaaa’ / I ask him where he got his sunglasses, he’s like ‘Baaaaaaaaaaa.’” Something like that, probably.)

Don’t get killed because that’ll make your parents sad.

If you’re doing something to make your parents have to bury you / you may want to slow down. —2 Chainz, “Forgiven”

This is the second-most fatherly thing that 2 Chainz, a father, says on the album. Save for a few very specific situations, like the mom in The Good Son or Thanos in Infinity War, parents are usually not very interested in burying their child or children. As such, 2 Chainz warns children against doing things that could lead to their death. Because that would be bad. Because their parents would be sad. If any of my three sons ever get around to listening to this album, I hope this is the lesson they pay attention to the most.

Rats do not deserve compassion.

Got no compassion for rats. —2 Chainz, “I’m Not Crazy, Life Is”

Gather your thoughts.

He said, “Bro, what I’m supposed to do?” / I paused, remorseful. —2 Chainz, “Forgiven”

This is a genuinely good thing to learn. In the instance above, one of 2 Chainz’s friends has a child who gets killed, and so, in a state of grief, he asks 2 Chainz, “Bro, what I’m supposed to do?” 2 Chainz, knowing the situation is sensitive, pauses for a moment before responding. So that’s the lesson here. Always be certain to gather your thoughts when you’re participating in delicate or sensitive conversations. Because what you don’t want to happen is to have someone talking to you about how one of their children has been murdered, and you respond by talking about how you “playin’ with the clit like a guitar,” which is a thing 2 Chainz says on a song called “NCAA,” which is a song about how college athletes should get paid.

College athletes should be paid.

We ballin’ hard, yeah, I just want some paper. —2 Chainz, “NCAA”

2 Chainz understands. Why don’t y’all?

Fuck what they got to say.

Fuck what they got to say. —2 Chainz, “Money in the Way”

Don’t double-book yourself, because it’s inconsiderate.

I think I’m booked up, but let me check the date. —2 Chainz, “Money in the Way”

You can make up words if you need to. (Or: Study the dictionary more.)

Rockin’ reptile, talkin’ alligate’. —2 Chainz, “Money in the Way”

The four lines that came before this one ended with “date,” “weights,” “calibrate,” and “allocate,” respectively. And so 2 Chainz, a genius, decided that alligators are no more, as they have since been replaced by alligates, which, honestly, I think I might actually like more.

(A quick thing: “Alligate” is an actual word. It means: “To tie; to unite by some tie.” So we should all acknowledge that it is entirely within the realm of possibility that 2 Chainz is using the word “alligate” here as a double entendre, meaning it both as a shortening of the word “alligator” and also as a way to point out that he’s just rhymed those four previous lines together with the same “—ate” sound. 2 Chainz is smarter than most of us, is what I’m saying, and so we should not underestimate him here.)

On average and by a large margin, the Avengers film series has been better than the X-Men film series.

No Wolverine here. —2 Chainz, “Statute of Limitations”

I took my sons to go see Logan, that most recent Wolverine movie, back when it first came out. The opening scene features Wolverine getting attacked by a group of criminals after he tries to stop them from stealing the tires off the car he’s driving. There are a ton of curse words, and also he kills a few of his attackers and cuts another guy’s hand off. There’s also a part where a woman shows Wolverine her breasts. This also happened in, like, the first five minutes of the movie. My sons were 9 at the time.

(I do agree that, on average and by a large margin, the Avengers film series has been more enjoyable and more well done than the X-Men film series. And I definitely do regret taking my sons to see Logan. That said, Logan is a really good movie.)

If you wear high-top shoes then be sure to wear to high-top socks.

Yeah, high-top Versaces, I got high-top socks. —Young Thug, “High Top Versace”

Pick a side, no in-between.

Pick a side, no in-between. —2 Chainz, “Whip”

“Wet floor” signs are there for a reason.

Wet floor signs, hope you don’t slip. —2 Chainz, “Whip”

If you’re going to purchase an expensive car, make sure you enjoy it.

I had the Maybach for five years / I still never sat in the front. —2 Chainz, “Whip”

At the moment, I drive a 2009 Jeep Wrangler. I’ve had it for about five years now. I keep the inside of it very clean, same as I’ve kept the inside of any car I’ve owned. It’s important to me that it stays that way because the two main things I use my car for are (1) to drive to work, and (2) to drive home from work. When I’m on my way to work, I like for my car to be clean because it helps me get ready for the coming hours, which I know are going to be busy. When I’m on my way home from work, I like for my car to be clean because it helps me slow my brain down and relax from the previous eight or nine hours, which were busy. I mention all of this to tell you:

Several months ago, I let someone ride in my car with me. I did so because I wanted to be nice. And everything was fine and normal; it was a wholesome, regular car ride. But when the person got out of the car, they realized that, at some point earlier in the day, they’d unknowingly sat on a Milk Dud (or a candy with a similar structural integrity), which had then transferred itself to my passenger seat. And I guess this person’s thigh was warm enough and thick enough that it pressed the Milk Dud down into the cloth of the seat with such power that, despite several attempts, I’ve never been able to fully remove it. And so my car, clean in every other capacity, has a dollar-coin-sized chocolate stain on the passenger seat. And every single time I catch it out of the corner of my eye I want to drive into oncoming traffic. And so if one day I just disappear and you never hear from me again, that’s what happened. I finally did it. I finally drove into oncoming traffic, driven mad by a Milk Dud.

Get sizable checks paid to an LLC that you own rather than to you, so if you get sued by someone they can’t get that money.

Put that in an LLC / Like, “How you gonna try to sue me?” —2 Chainz, “NCAA”

There are no sharks or sea creatures in a pool.

I got the pool right by the beach. —2 Chainz, “NCAA”

One might ask, “Why would you get a pool if you live near the beach? Why not just swim in the beach?” And to that person I would say, “Clearly, you have never been stung by a jellyfish or attacked by a great white shark.” And then the person would say, “If I was attacked by a great white shark at some point in my life, don’t you think I’d have told you about it?” And to that person I would say, “You know the point I’m trying to make here. Relax.”

Invest in real estate.

I buy a house and flip that. —2 Chainz, “Momma I Hit a Lick”

Carpooling is important, especially considering what we now know about the environment and climate change and the effects of fossil fuels on the ozone layer.

Why don’t we ride four deep. —2 Chainz, “Rule the World”

Even though you have only two feet, you should still, on occasion, buy 40 pairs of shoes.

See me in the Chain Reactions, I got 40 pair. —2 Chainz, “Rule the World”

Apologize when you don’t answer the phone.

Sorry I ain’t answer the phone. —2 Chainz, “Rule the World”

The fastest I have ever gone from Completely Calm and Normal all the way up to I’m Gonna Fucking Kill Everyone is literally every time I call a person and that person does not answer the phone. I’ve never quite been able to parse why it makes me so upset, but I definitely know that it does.

Insurance is important.

I need insurance on the chains. —2 Chainz, “Girl’s Best Friend”

Keith Sweat made good music, and you should listen to it often.

I’ma make it last / Keith Sweat on they ass. —2 Chainz, “Girl’s Best Friend”

This is actually advice about how you should take your time when having sex, sure, but it’s easier to listen to Keith Sweat music than it is to take your time and be good at sex so I’m going to bend things in that direction.

(A quick thing: I was always of the belief that “Keith Sweat” was just a stage name and that Keith Sweat’s actual name was something like Keith Scott or Keith Smith. But nope. His real name is literally Keith Sweat, which is either extremely fortunate or extremely unfortunate.)

Always choose the correct landscaping tools.

My yard too big to put a rake on it. —2 Chainz, “Threat 2 Society”

When I was in middle school, there was a kid who lived on the same block as me whom nobody really liked but everybody tolerated because he was the first among us to get a Super Nintendo. (I’m going to call the kid Joe.) Part of the reason that nobody really liked Joe was because his dad was a fucking terror. He would be totally normal and cool one second, and then fly all the way off the rails the next because of whatever tiny little thing it was that set him off.

Anyway, one summer, my idiot friends and I were outside playing basketball with Joe, and apparently Joe’s dad had told him in the morning before leaving for work that Joe needed to mow the front and backyard before he did anything else. Joe, of course, did not do it, possibly because he didn’t want to, but more likely because he forgot. And so when his dad came home and saw that it wasn’t done, he started screaming and yelling at Joe in front of everyone (which the rest of us thought was hilarious, by the way). After he finished yelling at Joe, he told Joe to get in the house. And so Joe went in and we continued playing basketball and everything was fine and good. And then the door to Joe’s house opened. And Joe walked out. And then everything was fucking even more hilarious than when Joe was getting yelled at.

Because Joe’s dad sent Joe out to mow the lawn, except he wasn’t allowed to use the lawnmower anymore. Instead, Joe’s dad gave him a pair of scissors and told him to cut the grass with those. And I can’t even tell you how much we all laughed about that.

At any rate, Joe’s dad would’ve sent Joe to 2 Chainz’s house to rake the yard with a rake, is what I’m saying.

Allow yourself to age into maturity.

Got a family now so I gotta pipe down. —2 Chainz, “2 Dollar Bill”

There are, I have come to learn, an almost endless amount of responsibilities that come with being married and being a parent. For example, every morning, the first thing I say as I talk myself into getting up and out of bed is “OK. Let’s get moving, boy. You’re responsible for another 15 meals today.” And that’s just the first and most immediate thing. Because also I have to get the money to pay for our energy bill, and our mortgage, and our car notes, and our student loans, and our cellphones, and our cable, and our water, and so on. And then there’s the stuff that’s off in the distance, like college (we’re talking a couple hundred thousand dollars per kid, according to the latest estimates). And don’t forget clothes and haircuts and entertainment. And don’t forget that suddenly you have to watch what you eat and exercise so you don’t die when you’re 45 or whatever. And also don’t forget to make sure that everyone knows that they are loved and appreciated and liked. And also, Also, ALSO X INFINITY. It’s a lot, is what I’m saying. Sometimes, it’s too much, in fact.

HOWEVER, there is one absolutely brilliant, absolutely wonderful, absolutely lovely thing that comes with all of that: a bulletproof, airtight excuse to be a coward without ever getting called a coward again.

For example, let’s say I’m out with several of my friends and we’re having a grand time and the evening is going nicely. And then let’s say that, because guys are idiots, my group of guys ends up getting into a fistfight with another group of guys. Should that happen, I am no longer required to jump in if I don’t want to, and everyone in my group knows that because everyone in my group knows that (a) fistfights are unpredictable; and (b) I am married with children, which means I am automatically allowed to remove myself from any and all unpredictable situations, should I see fit. Even 2 Chainz acknowledges this truth. (This is the first-most fatherly thing, by the way.)

Carry a weapon if you go to Burger King.

Had a MAC-11 at Burger King. —2 Chainz, “I Said Me”

Mostly this is just a joke, obviously. Burger King is actually one of the more upscale fast-food restaurants. And in fact, it might actually be the most upscale fast food restaurant, based on general appearance and attitude and atmosphere. I have never been in a Burger King and felt like I needed a weapon of any sort. Jack in the Box, however …

Set clear expectations, even (and perhaps especially) if they are unfair.

I told all my side bitches they couldn’t cheat on me. —2 Chainz, “I’m Not Crazy, Life Is”

37 percent is almost 40 percent, which is almost 50 percent.

You make over 500 thousand a year / [Uncle] Sam want 37 percent of that / Which is almost 40 percent / Which is almost 50 percent. —2 Chainz, “Sam”

This whole song is about income taxes and tax brackets, if you can even believe that, which you should, because it’s 2 Chainz, and 2 Chainz one time said, “And I’m getting head in the car while she’s driving,” so you know anything is on the table for discussion, really. The most fascinating part is during the end of the song when 2 Chainz is just talking and not rapping. He’s explaining how life has changed for him, and how he’s gotten rich, and how one year when he first started getting money he had to pay $2 million in taxes. He said he told that story to Sean “Diddy” Combs, a legitimate business mogul with a net worth (per Forbes) of about $820 million, and Diddy responded by saying, “I had to pay a hundred, but I gave ’em a hundred and five, you know what I’m saying? Just in case.”