Common: To have that energy circulating, that’s beautiful. When you saw crews, you always knew the weaker links in the crew. At certain times, you’d be like, “Aw, man. Here comes such-and-such.” [All laugh.]
Sean: That’s true as hell.
We all want to be great. We all have that drive. Kanye channels it—he's the nucleus.
Common: But man, if you get together with some cats that already got it going, then it’s like, “Yeah! Here comes such-and-such on the mic!” That’s what we bring.
Sean: These guys are legends. And I definitely feel like Cudi feels: I see myself in 10 years—I know exactly where I want to be. But that’s something that I recently came into. When I met Kanye, I was 17 years old. I would be nervous around him. He was my idol. So, for a couple years, I didn’t know what I was doing. If you listen to a lot of my early mixtapes, you’ll see I was rapping like Kanye because I didn’t have my own identity. Now, I’ve got my own ad-libs, my own wittiness.
I realized that I was sitting next to Common, sitting next to Jay-Z, sitting next to Kanye for a reason. I stepped up, got my mind together, and visualized how I wanted to be as an artist. That’s something that I don’t even think comes with age. It comes when you’re ready for your life to change. I got tired of living in that two-family flat with my mom. I got tired of being in the same room I grew up in my whole life. So it was like, “This has to work.”
I knew I could be the greatest. I was listening to Jay. I was listening to Wayne. I was like, “Man, I can do that. I could do it better than them.” Seriously. I feel like I’m going to be a legend. But it wasn’t always like that. There was a point where I was insecure. I would be out in Hawaii, and I was intimidated being around Cudi. We got signed around the same time...
Cudi: —I was poor when you got signed, dude. [Laughs.]
Sean: He was so sure of himself as an artist. He was carefree, and I learned a lot from just looking at him. My live show got better watching Cudi. Even meeting up with Common, how he wrote his raps, I stopped writing my raps on paper. I just write them in my head. That’s all stuff that comes from being around people like him, being around ’Ye, and it’s something that you ain’t got to be scared of. I come from Detroit—it raised some of the realest players ever. That’s what I embody. I represent my city, my generation, young people dreaming. I used to ride to school listening to Kanye, was in the crowd looking at Jay-Z, and now these fools are saying, “Hey, I believe in you.” It’s real. I just bought my mom a new car. She was happy as hell. She was leaning on it, taking pictures. Now, she’s house shopping. This is what it was all for.
Speaking of which, 2 Chainz, you’re charging a hundred a verse?
2 Chainz: [Laughs.]
How much to answer questions?
2 Chainz: A thousand a line.
Can you tell me what the nature of your relationship with G.O.O.D. is?
2 Chainz: I’m not officially signed, paperwork-wise, to G.O.O.D. Music. But I have a great rapport with ’Ye. He called me before Watch the Throne came out. I’m an only child. I’ve got trust issues. So I don’t have a best friend, a brother, sister—nothing. Stuff was happening in my life that I couldn’t tell nobody. I didn’t have anybody in my life that I could tell, like, “’Ye just called me.”
I’ve talked to ’Ye 1,000 times about trying to make this situation work for the both of us, so it won’t feel like anyone is getting used or anything. I’m in a position in life where I like talking about things like that. I came from a situation with DTP, being under Luda, where I got a phobia. Sometimes when an artist signs another artist, they’re so worried about themselves. And with ’Ye, he helps everybody.