Joint albums can be a gift or a curse.
Jay Z, for instance, has seen both sides of that coin. He had shaky R. Kelly partnerships in 2002 and 2004 and then a strong one with Kanye West in 2011. Others have shown us that they’re hard to piece together. For every Drake and Future — who dropped What a Time to be Alive last year— there’s a Dr. Dre and Ice Cube, whose long-awaited joint project may never be released. But despite the mixed aftermath of past joint efforts, fans were excited to hear that 2 Chainz and Lil Wayne were combining forces on an LP. On Friday (Mar. 4), that came through in the form of COLLEGROVE.
In short bursts, the dynamic duo delivers on this project. That’s most evident on the Mannie Fresh-produced “Gotta Lotta,” which features the album’s most infectious chorus. The duo’s prowess shines again on “Bounce” with some back-and-forth tenacity (and humor). “Got pulled over for swervin’, hi, officer,” Chainz raps on the track. “When he ask me why I was swervin’, I’m high, officer.”
Lyrically, Chainz and Wayne can go from vicious to hilarious. “Blue C-Note” is an example of that, a track jam-packed with more silly lines and clever wordplay. “I don’t see what’s your problem,” Weezy rhymes. “I need an eye doctor.” Clearly, when their partnership works, it’s as entertaining as you’d expect from two rap heavyweights like these.
But the problem with COLLEGROVE is that it isn’t actually the album that was advertised. Sure, Tunechi and Tity Boi team up on this effort, but only for eight of the project’s 13 tracks. Wayne’s glaring absence on five cuts might explain why he isn’t actually on the LP’s cover, which is a 2 Chainz portrait under Weezy’s face tats. Losing Wayne for that big of a stretch leads to a lack of cohesion that’s unfortunate for two MCs who work well together (that is, when they actually work together).
There’s another disappointing element here that lies in the tracklist. Given Wayne and Chainz’s prolific output, one would imagine that this album would feature all new material. Instead, fans get shortchanged with two solo leftovers (“MFN Right” and “Not Invited”) off Hair Weave Killer’s January mixtape Felt Like Cappin and one that appeared on his Trapavelli Tre mixtape last year (“Watch Out”). With Weezy missing from more than a third of the project, these old cuts, as strong as they might be, feel even more egregious to those who expected fresh material.
The notion of a 2 Chainz and Lil Wayne collaborative effort was a phenomenal idea. Partnering these stars and their styles could have, and perhaps should have, been epic. Perhaps that could still be a reality if this becomes a series, but in this installment, COLLEGROVE falls short of expectations. As a result, this feels less like the advertised collaborative powerhouse and more like a sample of what could’ve been.
PHOTO CREDIT: Def Jam