“The fact that my mom raised me used to bother my pop. He didn’t know if a woman could raise a man.” — 2 Chainz
Rarely does one get a second chance to make a first impression. Especially in Hip Hop. But 2 Chainz has seemingly done the impossible.
The Atlanta rapper is on his second major label deal, with a highly anticipated album Based On A TRU Story on the way. With the trap friendly club hit ‘Spend It’ still on the charts, 2 Chainz has obtained a ubiquity few rappers can claim and is on the receiving end of major co-signs from everyone from Kanye West to LeBron James.
Born Tauheed Epps, the 2 Chainz transformation from a member of Ludacris’ Disturbing Tha Peace crew to a ‘Duffle Bag Boy’ to a legitimate rap force is a lengthy but interesting one – that he’s honest and reflective about.
In this interview with TheUrbandaily.com The 31-year-old abandons any pretense about who he is, how he reached this level of success and the people who made it possible.
TUD: How does Tity Boi from Playaz Circle, become 2 Chainz the solo artist?
2 Chainz: I didn’t never say I wanted to go solo. Dolla (the other half of Playaz Circle) and I own a studio together. But when you work everyday like I do, you have more than enough music and I just had to find different avenues to put that music out. I started releasing my own personal mixtapes and the 2 Chainz things sort of became contagious. I wasn’t being brilliant, strategic, or being a genius by saying ‘2 Chainz’, it just caught on and became more family friendly.
But it seems like ‘2 Chainz’ has given you a second life…
Around ’09 and ’10, I don’t know if anybody remembers but Gucci was incarcerated, T.I. was incarcerated, Jeezy was working on an album, Ludacris was busy, so the Atlanta market was wide open. That’s where me and Future kinda came into play, just bringing the music from the streets. There was a void and I filled it.
How did you end up back at Def Jam, the same label you were signed to through Ludacris’ Disturbing Tha Peace?
Basically I went to DTP and told them I didn’t want to be with them anymore for obvious reasons: me growing and wanting to be my own boss, just maturing and everything. Of course it’s a business so they had to be paid and taken care of. But that left me in the middle of a bidding war. I was asked to come to Young Money but I didn’t want to seem like I was just jumping from crew to crew. And I was just comfortable with people in the Def Jam building and it made sense with what they were offering me for what I was bringing.
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What did you learn from your first failed deal with DTP?
I learned to create your own leverage, that was the main thing and everything else can come into play. Once you prove yourself to the masses, it’s easier to get your idea across and talk to an executive and most importantly, get them to listen. I’ve had these same talks with people in the past and it went in one ear and you could literally see it going out the other ear – they just wasn’t focused. Now, I just left two or three meetings and I could see a general excitement for the songs that I played and an excitement for the vision that I have for my new album Based On A TRU Story. And I’ve matured. So everything is just different. It’s no grudges. I pray a lot and I’ve moved on. It’s like I told them, we let bygones be bygones and let’s get some money together.
You said you pray a lot, where does that come from?
Probably my mama. She’s probably praying for me right now. My dad too. He was in prison a lot when I was younger and he used to write me letters and he would write on the envelope prayer hands or ‘God Is Love’. I just know I believe in a higher power and me and His relationship.
What’s it like dealing with fans right now? You’re the talk of the streets.
Fans are very sensitive people. They don’t understand that you may not feel like taking pictures at the moment, you may have just woke up and don’t feel like signing autographs…I was with my daughter last week and I took her to get a smoothie, and while I’m putting her in the car seat somebody walked up on me. ‘Can my co-worker and I get a picture?’ and I had to play it off like I was coming right back. I mean I was with my daughter and she’s three, I can’t focus on other people when I have my three-year old. I have to concentrate on what she’s doing. So with me it’s about having that relationship with fans without being too close to them.
How old will your daughter be when you start letting her listen to your music?
She listens to it now. She’ll be in the car and say ‘Daddy put on ‘ride round and get it’. (laughs) That’s her mom. She listens to this pop station that plays all of this stuff that should be cool but…I don’t know. My girl says ‘well it’s your music’ so, it’s kinda crazy. But my daughter knows ‘smoking on exotic’, so that’s…weird.
So you and your daughter are ridin’ around and getting it’?
(Laughs) Definitely. She’s a super girl. She’s my princess. She’s definitely a daddy’s girl.
Do you want a son?
I definitely want a son. I’m working on it right now. To be continued…
What kind of father is 2 Chainz?
I’m a provider period. I’m a family person. I like taking care of people in my family. I’ve been paying bills since I was 14. I understood how to do money orders – Georgia Power – whatever different bills we had. That was actually an excuse for me selling drugs, I wanted to take care of my people. So when I got in trouble when I was young, that was my only defense. Remember my father wasn’t around, so I would really be talking to people like ‘shit I gotta pay this bill today’ and they’d look at me like I was crazy.
At 14 or 15 years old?
Yeah. So I’ve been had that responsibility.
Did you put that responsibility on yourself or did your mom and your family?
I’m an only child, that’s where ‘Tity Boi’ came from, being a spoiled brat and a mamas boy. So no kid ever wants to see their mom cry, get hit on, struggle or anything like that. So just coming from an environment where there were issues in the household, I took it upon myself to step up and become a man.
Did that strain the relationship between you and your father?
The fact that my mom raised me, used to bother my pop. He didn’t know if a woman could raise a man. And they’d have differences of opinions all the time. My pops used to tell me things from prison and as soon as he hung up my mom would say ‘don’t listen to him’.
So how did being raised by a woman affect you?
I like taking care of women that I’m down with, that I’m cool with. My girl don’t know what a mortgage is. She knows what it is, but she doesn’t know what it is. And I’m cool with that. I bought my mama a house for Mother’s Day about 2-3 years ago. My house isn’t paid off yet, but hers is. And she’s got one of those houses where you want to go there and sleep all day on Sundays. She’s got a pool, it’s totally comfortable. And now she keeps throwing out there that she wants a Tahoe cause she had a flat and some dude told her ‘You 2 Chainz mama, you’re supposed to have AAA!’ So now she wants a new car. But whatever I gotta do, I’ll do it.
Listen to our Mother’s Day Playlist on BPRadio!
What are you afraid of?
I’m scared of not being scared. I think people should have some sort of fear, it’s healthy. But sometimes I don’t have that and that bothers me.
Tell me a secret…
I can’t cry. I’ve been brainwashed to be this type of man for so long that, I don’t know. Something really could happen and I can’t cry. Even when a think a tear is gonna come to my eye from yawing, it doesn’t.
Do you remember the last time you cried?
I think the last time was probably…What happened was, my dad was in and out of prison my whole life. But there was one point where he came home and was taking care of his dad and all of that. But one day he had a court date…and they kept him, for like 2-3 more years.
How long ago was this?
This was probably about six years ago. And while he was incarcerated, my granddaddy got sick and because (my dad wasn’t around) they had to put him in a nursing home. And I went to see him and my Granddaddy kept saying ‘I’m coming with you, just tie me on top of the truck.’ He didn’t want to be there. And when I went to his room, his bed wasn’t made and there was other stuff that bothered me, but I couldn’t take him with me. And then he died, like 6 months later.
In the nursing home?
In the nursing home. And it made me think, maybe I should’ve took him. That was the last time I cried. But even then, I remember just sucking it up.
How is the relationship now between you and your father?
Our relationship has become closer. My dad calls me ‘Tity Man’. Recently we just started saying ‘I love you’ on the phone. Like two weeks ago, he said something that he’s never said before. He said, ‘You’re a good man and I’m proud of you. I just wanted to tell you that.’ You know he’s getting older and he’s been sick a lot lately and that scared me. I mean I saw my dad fall one time and he jumped up real quick and said ‘you just seen the baddest man in the world fall!’ He’s such a super duper man’s man, so that’s just…weird.
With the prison system being so embedded into your family’s history, does it make you fear going to jail, or desensitize you to it?
A lot of my family has gone to prison. One of our aunts is still in prison since ’88 and another one of our aunts just came home. They went together. And I’ve gone to jail. The first time was when I was fifteen, over cocaine. The house I was staying in had gotten busted and they locked my mom up instead of me, thinking it was hers. I was staying with my friend, trying to figure out how I was gonna get my mom out. My daddy was already in jail, so this was kinda crazy for me. But I was still going to school, and then the police came to my classroom to get me. They whole thing caused a scene. And the cycle started from there. I never did a lot of time but from there, every other year I would go to jail.
Is that cycle over?
Watch my movements, listen to me now. I’m the person that can’t afford any more losses. A lot of times guys start rapping and get their first case and I dread that. When I got caught smoking in New York, I pleaded. I don’t ever want to get in trouble ever again. It’s not worth it. I got in trouble when it wasn’t cool, it was embarrassing. I had my uncle – who already thought I was the black sheep of the family – looking at me like I messed up. Now he wants one of my FLX phones. So it’s made me more cautious about what I’m doing.
But despite all of this, or perhaps because of all of this, it seems you’ve turned out, pretty alright…
I’m a man’s man, and there aren’t a lot of real men anymore. I may not fix cars or cut the grass but I’m a fuckin man. My mom raised a helluva dude.