Seven years after their first collab album, Lil Wayne & 2 Chainz just delivered Welcome 2 Collegrove. While the original showcased their chemistry as a duo, the sequel sees the two rappers working as one, totally assured in their dynamic and willing to bring additional collaborators into the mix.
A Storied History Between These Two A-List Rappers
The mid-2010s were a renaissance for the collaborative rap album. The span from 2014 to 2018 gave us modern duo classics like Lil Baby & Gunna’s Drip Harder, Offset & 21 Savage’s Without Warning, Drake & Future’s What A Time To Be Alive, and Travis Scott & Quavo’s Huncho Jack, Jack Huncho. Most of the team-ups released in that time period came from rap’s younger generation, artists either on the rise or in their primes joining forces for a compounding effect. And that’s where 2 Chainz and Lil Wayne’s Collegrove broke the mold. Both artists, while not over the hill by any means, had nothing to prove in terms of record sales or legacy. Instead, theirs was entirely organic, formulated entirely on the strength of their mutual respect.
In the wake of that project, both artists have teased on-and-off a follow-up edition. But since its 2016 release, each of their solo careers has taken precedence—a combined 14 albums and mixtapes taking up the bulk of their energy. Finally, in 2023, we’ve gotten the long-awaited sequel with 2 Chainz & Lil Wayne’s Welcome 2 Collegrove.
2 Chainz & Lil Wayne’s Welcome 2 Collegrove Comes With Huge Features
As if 2 Chainz & Lil Wayne’s personas weren’t enough, Welcome 2 Collegrove enlists 50 Cent as a guiding light as well, delivering five spoken word intros that break the 16 tracks into shorter “scenes.” Though the two rappers’ life stories are already cinematic, 50 puts a “Power” like spin on things, framing them as classical gangsters, and their collaboration as a plot for industry domination. The first true song following that is “G6,” which comes with a beat switch midsong that splits this into two solo endeavors for Chainz & Wayne. Despite that, the results are explosive and synergistic, the two instrumentals serving as perfect anthemic complements to their unique on-mic skill sets.
“Big Diamonds,” which features 21 Savage, showcases a new wrinkle on this album. The first project was featureless, instead opting to just spotlight the two primary artists. This one goes the exact opposite direction, and “Big Diamonds” is an equal three-way balance between the three featured rappers. Wayne is notorious for being blissfully unaware of some of the new generation, but he’s right at home working 21 into the mix.
Skipping ahead, “Millions from Now” has Mike Dean and Apex Martin on production, but that A-list talent becomes secondary given 2 Chainz’s hook. He’s unbothered and luxurious as ever, displaying a lot of clever storytelling chops with the central conceit of this song: “I won’t remember you a million dollars from now.” Of the dozen moments where Weezy & 2 Chainz are on their own, this track stands out as one of the best.
A Good Balance of Bars & Melodies
“Transparency” is likely the moment that leans furthest into radio sensibilities, a lot of that owing to the appearance of Billboard vet Usher on the track. “Tell me I’m the one you’re lookin’ for / Don’t wanna be a secret / Transparency, when you look at me / You know I can teach you,” he croons on the chorus, setting up a tender atmosphere that gives the rappers a chance to dip into a more romantic side of their palette.
“PPA,” “Oprah and Gayle” and “Can’t Believe You” operate on a similar formula as the aforementioned “Big Diamonds,” featuring Fabolous, Benny the Butcher and Rick Ross, respectively. Each of those guests have had claims to best pen in the game at different points, and the tracks they appear on give plenty of space for them to stretch those wings. Though it’s a tough competition, the former Griselda artist wins out if they’re put head to head, with Benny’s verse standing as one of the best on the whole album: “I asked a question, and he gave me an answer / That still left a n**** confused like Brady in Tampa / Back home, I’m one of the narcos, semi autos / Dodge fans like New York City potholes.”
Welcome 2 Collegrove is Some of Both Rapper’s Best Recent Work
So all told, while 2 Chainz and Lil Wayne weren’t slouches by any means on the original, Welcome 2 Collegrove offers a huge step up in multiple ways—a more cinematic framing, more star power in terms of collaborators, and as a result, more energetic and memorable moments from the primary artists themselves. If you haven’t already given the album a listen, it’s easily among the best rap releases of the year—you can find it now on streaming platforms everywhere.