2 Chainz, ‘B.O.A.T.S. II: Me Time’

The cover art for 2 Chainz’s sophomore album explains a lot. The two Cuban links — thick, gleaming, and drenched in symbolism and literalism — aren’t drastically different from the necklaces that made his debut so self-explanatory. But they answer two questions about his new material before you ever hear it: Can a rapper that makes a living off being both outlandishly funny and absurdly simple keep topping himself? Yes. Will he veer dramatically from the formula? No. 2 Chainz’s fixations are the same: money, women , clothes, drugs , and lots of trap beats. Still, things come off more polished. Whether it’s his horn-laced lead single, “Feds Watching,” with Pharrell or the warped, taunting “Where U Been” manufactured by Mike Will Made It, he knows what hits sound like. And the only fingerprint mentor Kanye West left was the cover art. The advice he gave 2 Chainz was that with a bottomless well of charisma, it was time to stand on his own, and he’s right. (Out Tuesday)

Julian Benbow

EssentiaL “Used 2”

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