2 Chainz, Pusha T, August Alsina | Chicago Theatre | Hip-Hop | Chicago Reader
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2 Chainz, Pusha T, August Alsina 

When: Fri., Feb. 7, 7:30 p.m. 2014
Price: $35-$89.99
In a short time Tauheed Epps, aka 2 Chainz, has transformed from a struggling artist—his reputation confined mostly to Atlanta rap enthusiasts and his glory days seemingly far behind him—into one of pop’s most recognizable figures, whose voice and exuberant catchphrase (“2 Chaaiiinz!”) have been fixtures on the pop charts for the past two years or so. His biggest hit of 2013 was A$AP Rocky’s “Fuckin’ Problems,” a zealous and hilarious rap-off between three of hip-hop’s most talented young artists—Rocky, Drake, and Kendrick Lamar—with a two-line hook from Epps that, like his best work, is both dead simple and infinitely repeatable. In September he released a solo album, B.O.A.T.S. II: Me Time (Def Jam), that’s worth buying not just for the shoulda-been smash “Feds Watching” (a Pharrell-produced, blaxploitation-inflected guide to staying fly while under law-enforcement surveillance) but also for the entertaining and surprisingly practical cookbook that Epps wrote for the digital edition.

Lots of people in rap like to boast about their relentless work ethics, but few have put their words into action like Terrence “Pusha T” Thornton. In 2002 he and his brother Gene released their first big single, aptly entitled “Grindin’,” and then Terrence pretty much immediately ran into a solid decade’s worth of assorted career struggles—including numerous conflicts with labels, his brother’s conversion to Christianity (which had him contemplating retirement from rap), and delays to his debut solo album that dragged on for so long that it started to seem like an urban legend. But Thornton’s way of dealing with such vicissitudes has always been to keep his head down and make lean, unflashy rap music laced with a memorably morbid sense of humor. His frequently postponed My Name Is My Name (GOOD Music) finally dropped last fall, just in time to cash in on the minimalism craze that swept rap in 2013—a rare example of Thornton and the rest of the world syncing up. —Miles Raymer 2 Chainz headlines; Pusha T and August Alsina open.

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