Poseidon, look at me…
Alex Ostroff: 2 Chainz is 2 Chainz and you’re either charmed by him or you aren’t. What’s really different here is the beat: an eerie, delicate piano line supporting a song far more raucous than one would expect. Exposing 2 Chainz’s voice to so much space is a surprisingly effective choice — as ominous as the “Birthday Song” beat but less enveloping — and works much better than it did on “Beez in the Trap,” where he was the winning but worst part of a great song.
Jonathan Bradley: The tinkling, minor key piano at the heart of DJ Mustard’s beat belongs to a more contemplative track, but “I’m Different” is different, and so instead of dark-minded muttering, it features 2 Chainz hollering “PULL UP TO THE SCENE WITH MY CEILING MISSING” in proper ratchet style. So it’s great. To a certain extent, all 2 Chainz songs can be measured by the worth of their catchphrases, and while there’s nothing here at the level of “She got a big booty so I call her big booty,” he still comes up with that roof gone hook, an attic/addict homophone, and onomatopoeic bed springs.
Ian Mathers: My biggest Jukebox regret last year was not realizing that we somehow hadn’t covered “Birthday Song” (an easy ) when I was making my Amnesty pick. This doesn’t make up for it, not really.
Jer Fairall: The skittish minimalism of the piano hook, like something out of a ’70s horror flick, actually supports his titular claim. His casual misogyny and avaricious gloating, less so.
Anthony Easton: It takes some cojones for a song so unrelentingly monotonous to proclaim its uniqueness, so much so that I wonder if it’s an avant garde act.
Patrick St. Michel: In which 2 Chainz hopes to convince the world he’s different by repeating said sentiment a bunch… before promptly contradicting himself come the first verse. That said, there are Yogi-Berra-esque moments of stupid joy sprinkled here and there — like the way his ad-libbed “whoas!” grow in intensity with each utterance, or how he imitates the sound of a creaky bed before just stating “sound of the bed.” Really, he is different, but I’m not sure he realizes how.
Alfred Soto: “Pull up to the scene with my ceilin’ missin’” could be the ALI BABA AND THE FORTY THIEVES for a new generation if 2 Chainz could rap as if the medallion weren’t choking him.
Brad Shoup: 2 Chainz isn’t the first rapper to pair “cabinet” and “fabric”. Chief Kamachi did it on Jedi Mind Tricks’ “The Deer Hunter,” for one, but Chief didn’t have our hero’s flair for pronunciation. He’s found new, more annoying ways to unveil punchlines, but damn if he’s not entertaining. DJ Mustard’s twinkle-and-Kondo combo sounds once again like part of an ongoing wager with the music industry, but his sly minimalism seems to pull the best out of his collaborators.
Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: Tity 2 Necklaces is in an enviable place right now, having become so culturally ubiquitous that his most ridiculous — nay, Chainzian — lines immediately become mini-phenomenons. His 2012 ascendancy can be traced through meme-ready lyrics rather than actual songs, going from “AIN’T NO KEYS IN THIS DOOHICKEY” through“HORSE POWER, HORSE POWER” via “SHE GOT A BIG BOOTY SO I CALL HER BIG BOOTY.” He’s akin to Chris Tucker circa 1998, an unstoppable squawking human exclamation mark, selling his smart-dumbest lines through sheer energy and star quality. “I’m Different” isn’t hugely dissimilar from any of the other DJ Mustard–produced tracks from the past year but it’s effective, a blast of minor-key twerk-minimalism that still sounds as alien and unsettling as a John Carpenter score. As for our man in the field, he is simultaneously at his best and purely functional: for every all-caps syllable-stuffed holler like “PUT A FAT RABBIT ON THE CRAFTMATIC”, there’s “HAIR LONG MONEY LONG” repeated to eat up the song’s space and hurry up the process of recording. But it sticks, and that’s the magic that 2 Chainz maintains at the moment in pop culture: he can make it all stick. To paraphrase another ’90s nonsense-loudmouth, he’s in the zone, man. He can hear Jimi.