You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Why LeBron James A&R-ing 2 Chainz’s Latest Album Makes Perfect Sense

"Rap or Go to the League," the rapper's fifth studio release, is being hailed by critics.

Did 2 Chainz just drop the best album of his entire career? The critics have been hailing “Rap or Go to the League” — Pitchfork said the album “feels like a personal triumph” and Complex called it the rapper’s “best.” The rapper’s fifth studio effort is a project in which 2 Chainz, whose real name is Tauheed Epps, successfully and beautifully bridges the gap between sports and hip-hop. And it’s no wonder: basketball star LeBron James served as the album’s A&R (artists and repertoire — a guiding role through the recording process).

The title, “Rap or Go to the League” is meant to highlight the misconception that young black men see success in life as either athletes or rappers. The 14 songs exhibit the drive, hunger, fearlessness, courage and relentlessness needed to accomplish one’s dreams.

Indeed, the Atlanta native isn’t just a rapper, 2 Chainz is also an entrepreneur, father, husband, host of Viceland’s “Most Expensivest,” label-owner and all-around entertainer.

So where does this generation’s greatest NBA player come in? Variety lays down the LeBron connection below.

1. LeBron is the ultimate cosign.

LeBron’s taste in music is impeccable. If your record is caught playing in the background of one of his Snapchats or IG stories, chances are, you’ve made it. His signature head-bobs and stank face have become phenomena on their own — not to mention free promotion. Just ask Eminem, Rick Ross, Tee Grizzley or A$AP Rocky. The track “NCAA” is a reminder that 2 Chainz threw his hoop dreams out the window to pursue rap, while music serves as LeBron’s second biggest passion.

2. There’s no better hype-man.

LeBron James dancing in the mirror to “Girl’s Best Friend” featuring Ty Dolla $ign — 45 seconds of pure bliss — proves there’s no better hype-man for a 2 Chainz banger. There’s a high chance they’re bumping this at Lakers practice too.

3. Shared roots.

Both share a similar upbringing in being black males from the inner-city. LeBron hails from the rougher parts of Akron, Ohio, experiencing poverty as in his childhood and facing the reality of a nonexistent father who fell victim to the streets. “Threat 2 Society” has Tity Boi recalling the former days of trapping and hoop dreams, the latter of which LeBron has conquered. To wit: the line, “I’m so famous, can’t even cough in peace.”

4. Raising the bar of black excellence.

With 47.7 million followers on Instagram and 42.3 million on Twitter, as of this writing, LeBron is making the most of his platform, touching on everything from music to sports to politics and television. In fact, 2 Chainz chose LeBron to work with him because of the Athlete’s place in the culture. “Momma Hit A Lick,” featuring Kendrick Lamar, name-drops other influential African-Americans like Vivica and Mannie Fresh. In an interview featured on Apple Music interview, 2 Chainz tells Lebron, “I’m sure you know, you’re just a different breed in so many ways. You use your platform different from any other person that’s been on your level.”

5. A&R as mood and emotion. 

LeBron’s role as executive producer isn’t the traditional A&R role. Rather, he offers input and suggestions. It his idea to have “Forgiven” featuring Marsha Ambrosius sit at the top of the track-list. Most artists would save the heavy stuff for later in the album, maybe even as  the closer, but LeBron advised 2 Chainz to draw in audiences in on first listen. As LeBron states: “It sets the mood from an emotional standpoint.” Elsewhere, LeBron came up with the idea of releasing additional tracks through a deluxe edition down the line — like “Whip” featuring Travis Scott, in which he sings: “They really wanna keep us outside / ‘Cause you know we go way too live, too turnt up for your club.”

More Music

  • Stock market

    Trading In Music's Futures: Why Greed Is Good (Guest Column)

    The music industry is entering a time of financial prosperity thanks to the widespread use of streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music, and Tidal. According to a recent report by Musicwatch, 77% of all internet users in the U.S. stream music, while Goldman Sachs projects a revenue pot of $34 billion by 2030. Finally, the [...]

  • Vampire Weekend - Brian Robert Jones,

    Vampire Weekend, Mumford & Sons, Rufus du Sol to Headline Okeechobee Festival

    Today, Insomniac Events announced the lineup for the fourth edition of Florida’s Okeechobee Music & Arts Festival. The four-day event will return to Sunshine Grove in Okeechobee, Florida March 5-8, 2020 with a multi-genre lineup led by Vampire Weekend, Mumford & Sons, Rufus du Sol and Bassnectar, along with over 100 other artists across a [...]

  • Member of South Korean Girl Group

    Korean Pop Star Sulli Dies at 25

    Korean pop star Sulli was found dead at her home near Seoul on Monday. She was 25. Her manager found her body and alerted the police. The manager reported that the star, whose real name was Choi Jin-ri, suffered from depression, and police said that they were working on the assumption that she had died [...]

  • Jay Frank

    Jay Frank, UMG Senior VP and Digital Music Veteran, Dies at 47

    Universal Music executive and digital music veteran Jay Frank died Sunday after a battle with cancer. He was 47. UMG chief Lucian Grainge remembered him in a message sent to the company. “Dear Colleagues,” it reads. “I’m deeply saddened to tell you that our colleague and friend Jay Frank has passed after a recurrence of [...]

  • Boomtown Rats Feature Doc Launches From

    Boomtown Rats Feature Doc Launches From New Music Banner BeyondTNC (EXCLUSIVE)

    Bob Geldof and the re-formed Boomtown Rats will talk about their legendary punk band in a new feature doc, “Boomtown.” It is one of the first two films from a new music producer-distributor that has been formed by Beyond Entertainment and TNC Media – BeyondTNC. BeyondTNC will be launching “Boomtown” to international buyers in Cannes, [...]

  • Zedd

    DJ Zedd Banned From China After Liking 'South Park' Tweet

    Zedd has been “permanently banned” from China after the German DJ liked a tweet from the “South Park” Twitter account. Zedd, whose real name is Anton Zaslavski, announced the news via his own Twitter account: “I just got permanently banned from China because I liked a @SouthPark tweet,” he wrote. I just got permanently banned [...]

  • Kim Gordon album art

    Album Review: Kim Gordon's 'No Home Record'

    The line between art and artifice is one that Kim Gordon has explored throughout her four-decade career, first as cofounder of Sonic Youth and more recently as a visual artist, memoirist, fashion designer, actress, and one-half of the experimental duo Body/Head. When we’re perusing a corporately designed bauble or experience, are we genuinely imagining the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content