Though critics may argue 2 Chainz’s music is a “lesson in thematic narrowness,” the man once referred to as Tity Boi [even by his own parents] makes some strong points to the contrary. Talk with Chainz even when he’s fresh off a blunt break and you can’t deny the guy’s intelligence. A gregarious dude protected by a blanket of optimism that seems to deflect all hate thrown his way, Mr. Epps never says “die.” After years of relative obscurity on Ludacris’ Disturbing Tha Peace label, he released new material under a “new” [Chainz claims he’s been called 2 Chainz since high school] nom de plume and found mainstream acceptance and respect from peers like Kanye West.
Even after a recent robbery in San Francisco, he’s not letting anything interfere with him repeating last summer’s success. Guess that’s why he named his sophomore LP Based On A True Story 2.
2 Chainz performs tomorrow, July 19th, at Jones Beach.
What up 2 Chainz? Pardon the intrusion. You must be busy working on B.O.A.T.S. 2.
No that’s pretty much done. I’m just finishing up the mixing. I’m adding a few samples, taking away a few samples. I’m still arranging the album too and also getting the credits right to make that side of the business is taken care of.
How’s the process going? Is Def Jam different now that Joie isn’t up there? He’s the one who signed you, no?
No, actually I came to Def Jam right before he took over. But my album was released under his watch so he was involved for sure. But Def Jam’s cool. We’re doing pretty good over there, paying some bills over there, you know?
So who is on the B.O.A.T.S. 2?
I’m not telling you.
What? Nothing? Gimme one collabo at least!
Not going to tell you. Actually, I will tell you I got Pharrell on there.
Well I knew that already. Which is a dope song by the way.
[Laughs] You like that huh? Well the album is going to be about 14 more of those. [Laughs] So be sure to get it.
What do you say to the critics who think your subject matter isn’t varied enough? I mean, I can tell when I speak to you you’re a smart dude. Do you dumb your shit down?
My answer to the critics is this, and I quote: Smart people can act dumb but dumb people can’t act smart. That goes to every critic that doesn’t know I never made a C in high school, just A’s and B’s. It just so happens I have an understanding about real life. Where I’m from no one wants Jesse Jackso–they want a nigga that tells it like it is. Strippers and dope dealers who ride foreign cars. I take [listeners] on a walk though that neighborhood, through that lifestyle. When I came in the game with “Duffle Bag Boyz,” I was already wearing Gucci. That’s how I came in the game. This album, of course, it’s some growth. I’m talking about prosperity more but I’m not going to stop talking real shit that we see on the news. So all those critics can miss me with that shit.
I think they’d rather focus on our differences rather than our similarities.
Exactly man. When I say “All I want for my birthday is a big booty hoe,” all I’m really saying is “I would like to have some birthday sex, please.” When I’m talking about “I’m different,” I’m saying that when I’m looking in the mirror I see a trendsetter. No one is doing it like me.
Word up. So last time we spoke you were telling me about some of the things you’ve done for the hood without the help of non-profits–just solo out of your own pocket. What’s the most recent thing you’ve done like that?
Well not that it’s anybody’s business really, but I paid for a funeral that I couldn’t even go to because of my schedule. And it’s not my family. But sometimes you have to do things like that.
Sorry to hear that.
Me too, bruh, me too. You got to understand that we came up around some people that don’t see success. You got to handle certain things for them because you are the success story. It’s just one of the things that come with success and really I can’t complain.
Robberies also come with fame and money sometimes too. You caught some heat for running from those gun men in that video, but any one from the hood knows there’s no arguing with a gun. You should quit the scene ASAP.
Let me tell you something. Anybody that tells you they wouldn’t run hasn’t been in situations like me. I’ve been a felon since I was 15. Most kids at that age might still be sleeping in the same bed with their siblings. I’m trying to grow to be a wiser person. If you heard shots in Manhattan, Pablo, what would you do?
Exactly. But you know I learned from the experience and like I said I’m striving to be a wiser person.
So what’s next for you?
T.R.U. University label is my focus. Have some projects coming out on that. I’m just looking to be competitive. I got that sports edge on these fools. I eat well, get my cardio in. I want it all! I’m amicable with people, but I want everybody up outta here. I want it all!
Based On A TRU Story 2 is due out September 10th
Follow J. Pablo on Twitter: @AvenueP
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 18, 2013