“Let me tell you a story about these two guys that eventually became brothers,” 50 Cent says on the opening of Welcome 2 Collegrove, the second collaborative album between Southern-rap luminaries 2 Chainz and Lil Wayne. That succinct description is certainly apt, but it doesn’t even begin to capture the friendship that began through kismet at an Atlanta studio session 20 years ago. In the ensuing decades, Wayne emerged from the ranks of the Cash Money collective to become perhaps the most recognizable rapper in the world, and Chainz reeled off his own run of platinum and gold records, dominating the zeitgeist with singles like “I’m Different” and “Good Drank.”
Like 2016’s ColleGrove, Chainz and Wayne’s first release as a duo, Welcome 2 Collegrove is full of bombastic boasts and glitzy beats and soars on chosen-family-type chemistry from the MCs. With 50 Cent serving as narrator, Welcome 2 Collegrove also has a cinematic bent, making it feel like the kind of big budget event album this friendship deserves.
Beef has given us some of the best rap songs ever, and it’s helped catapult the genre into the mainstream, but it’s also perpetuated negative stereotypes around hip-hop culture and, in far too many cases, led to injury and loss of life. With that in mind, let us now celebrate hip-hop’s most wholesome relationship.
A transactional meeting blossomed into two decades of closeness.
In a joint appearance on The Tonight Show in October to promote Collegrove 2, Wayne and Chainz showcased their easy chemistry and shared a bit of their history that may not have been known to some mainstream fans. In a truly hilarious late-night TV moment, they revealed that the pair first met when Chainz showed up to Wayne’s studio session in Atlanta to sell him weed. “He was just a cool dude from Atlanta,” Wayne said sheepishly, followed by a pointed throat clearing from Chainz.
Wayne later served as best man at Chainz’s 2018 wedding to Kesha Ward, and a Vogue photo diary from the big day features one of the most heartwarming images of two rappers ever captured. In the behind-the-scenes shots, we see Wayne (famously around 5’5”) standing on a couch to help Chainz, a 6’5” former college basketball player, put on his tuxedo jacket. It’s an unbelievably sweet moment, made even more so by the simple caption. “My brother and my best man, Lil Wayne, helping me get ready for the wedding,” Chainz wrote.