2 Chainz Celebrates Black Wealth & Buys The Block In His New Video

Last Friday (March 1), 2 Chainz released Rap Or Go To The League. It’s the Atlanta, Georgia MC’s first album in two years and documents the artist’s growing stature as a rapper’s rapper. For some fans over the last decade, Chainz has been more closely associated with Trap music than music heavy on bars, but recent collaborations with the likes of PRhyme (on PRhyme 2‘s “Flirt”) and others have him standing alongside some of Hip-Hop’s most celebrated lyricists. There seems to be a concerted effort to highlight the art of rapping on Tity Boi’s latest, from the album’s title to its list of collaborators: Kendrick Lamar, E-40, Chance The Rapper and more.

Like a lot of previous material from 2 Chainz, much of the content on Rap Or Go To The League involves themes of success and its visible tokens: money, possessions and the like. But this is the first album from the rapper since he’s become outspoken on how the Black community can and should built wealth in an effort to become self-sustaining. He recently sat down with Joe Budden for an episode of Pull Up in which he discusses investments, financial literacy and more. Though his stint as the host of Viceland’s Most Expensivest (a show that follows Chainz as he experiences the world’s most ostentatious things), suggests a purely material interest, his latest music video suggests something else entirely.

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On “Money In The Way,” the first video single from Rap Or Go To The League, 2 Chainz and director Vincent Lou toy with time and power in a sequence of vignettes. Chainz is cast as the owner of a building that houses scenes from 1965, 1975, 1985, 1995, 2000, 2010 and today. In each vignette, power, gender, race and culture are documented. There are Black Panthers, pimps, and break-dancers. Gun violence and drug trafficking make cameos, as does the cycle of life and death. As Chainz steps into the building’s elevator, he’s transported to a different time. By the time the video ends, a copy of the fictional newspaper Big Money Times announces “2 Chainz Buys the Block.”

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Each of the mini-stories in the video features some kind of transaction, whether that be the exchange of rent for a place to live, risk for reward, money for sex, culture for capital and love for acceptance. Though the eras and details change, it’s the timeless cycle of the pursuit of financial, spiritual and personal success that remains constant.

Wealth is one of the most important and effective tools of Black liberation, which may be why 2 Chainz opted to make a music video for a song called “Money In The Way” to be about much more than what he’s rapping about in the song (“The money in the way, f*ck what they got to say / I throw it up, it’s fallin’ down / It’s definitely in the way“).

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Notably, the 1995 sequence closely mirrors the Tupac Shakur shooting in the lobby of Quad Studios in November of 1994.