The entire G.O.O.D. Music crew is already assembled at their Complex cover shoot by the time 2 Chainz appears, jumping out of a black SUV while dodging rain drops. Fresh off a plane from Atlanta, he’s moved around his schedule and arrived at the last minute, dedicating a day between tour dates to come to New York and show his allegiance to Kanye West’s collective.
Despite the fact that he is not actually signed to G.O.O.D. Music, no one seems surprised by 2 Chainz’s presence—the artist formerly known as Tity Boi has grown increasingly closer to the crew since Kanye gave him a silent co-sign on 106 & Park back in April. They recorded “Mercy” in L.A., shot the video in Qatar, then performed it on the BET Awards. Expect more collaborations on G.O.O.D. Music’s Cruel Summer album (due out September 4), and 2 Chainz’s solo debut Based on a T.R.U. Story (dropping on August 14), including the new single “Birthday Song,” where Chainz proclaims, “Deuce and ’Ye—we like Snoop and Dre.”
At 35, 2 Chainz is the same age as Kanye, but he’s just begun to establish himself as a hip-hop superstar after a decade of grinding as a member of Playaz Circle, the duo signed to Ludacris’ Disturbing Tha Peace label who had a No. 15 pop hit with “Duffle Bag Boy” in 2007. A name change and a series of high-profile guest appearances later, Chainz is arguably the hottest thing in 2012 rap, sprinkling clever, bug-eyed boasts and quirky slang over everything like a trap rap E-40.
So while the advantages of being down with G.O.O.D. are obvious—namely, access to the advice of Mr. West—one should not overlook the benefits that Kanye and company reap from associating their brand with 2 Chainz. Before jumping in front of the camera with his new family (Pusha T, Big Sean, Common, Kid Cudi, and Q-Tip), 2 Chainz sat down for a quick conversation with Complex.
Interview by Brendan Frederick (@bfred)
I know you just hopped off a plane, but you're here. You must be exhausted.
The last 24 hours of my life were really hectic. I’m on the Club Paradise Tour, with Drizzy Drake, and I actually landed in Atlanta last night, which is my hometown. I just had a blast. I went out, afterwards, stayed up all night, got up early and did three morning shows. I did seven o’clock, eight, and I did nine. I actually did a rhythmic station, which was my first time. I feel like I’m going in the right direction, as far as making records that actually appeal to the masses. Then, I jumped on a bird and headed straight to this photoshoot, because I felt like this was something that I needed to be a part of.
Kanye has been supporting my campaign for a while now. He’s been intricate in a lot of my decision making.
Why was it important for you to be here to represent G.O.O.D. Music?
Kanye has been supporting my campaign for a while now. He’s been intricate in a lot of my decision making, as far as the artistic part. Not the music—I have the gist of what I want to do and what I want to put out—but just taking it to the next level, as far as your stage presence and props and different things like that, as far as photo. So I felt like they needed me here. I showed up ready to swag up, on camera, and it’s just a blessing to be a part of such a cool-ass group of individuals, who all have a certain level of skills that I just respect, from the bottom to the top. So I’m here, man. It’s your player partner 2 Chainz.
Ever since Kanye tweeted “2 Chainz is charging 100k for a verse now cause he’s G.O.O.D.!!!!!!” back in May, people have been wondering if you’re signed to G.O.O.D. Music. What’s really good?
My situation with G.O.O.D. is that I’m family. Period. People want to know what’s the paperwork and I’m not into that. I’m not into really putting a lot of my business in the streets. What people need to know is that I have a great relationship with G.O.O.D. Music
Do I feel like I’m good? Hell yeah, but it’s always good when someone else co-signs. It doesn’t feel like you’re tooting your own horn, so to speak. With ’Ye just expressing, I think a lot of people didn’t get the gist that we were talking about me swapping features with people. And he was just saying that I’m to a point now, where I really can’t swap out with anybody. So that’s what the initial tweet was about, it being 100K for me to get on your song, and if you didn’t have the 100K we can negotiate, or I wasn’t really tripping, because I’m trying to finish up my album, anyway.
You spent years in another crew, Disturbing Tha Peace. Did that experience change your attitude when it came to getting down with G.O.O.D.?
Every experience, I’ve learned from, whether it’s been good or bad. As far as my DTP experience, I learned a lot. I gained a lot of business savvy, from being around Ludacris. I think he’s very intelligent. I learned everything from budgets to product placement. Just applying it to my life currently, I have some phobias, maybe some contract phobias, but at the same time, I’ve grown to become my own man, my own boss, my own CEO. I just cherish this moment that I have of just creating leverage to where people actually respect my opinion.
I do a lot of seed planting. I just do stuff all the time, in different places, and it just depends on when stuff starts growing and bringing attention to itself.
So have you spent much time with the other guys in G.O.O.D., aside from Kanye? Have you had the chance to kick it with them?
I already knew everybody. I have a song with Pusha, CyHi’s from Atlanta, me and Big Sean have a song together. I just met Common, but I’ve been a fan of his music for a long time. I met Cudi before. I met everybody, and it’s a lot of love. The thing that I’m into is—using sports as an analogy—with music, it should be competitive. It should be exercise, and just being in this environment brings that vibe, that cool competitiveness.
Is there anyone in the crew you really want to collaborate with? Anyone you've clicked with?
Everybody, man. Me and Sean, we do dope stuff together. Me and Pusha, we like to talk that kitchen talk, that lingo, that trap talk. I’d love to get down with Common. I was just talking to him and I was telling him how cool it was to be an artist that’s in the middle, maybe Chiacgo or Atlanta. We’re not classified as a coast, so we’re able to take from each side. It’s kind of funny when a West Coast guy does some East Coast stuff and vice versa, but being from Chicago and Atlanta, we’re able to kind of dibble and dab and come up with a gumbo of music. That’s cool.
When did you actually record “Mercy,” and the other stuff you have on Cruel Summer?
I recorded “Mercy” a while back, in LA—It was fun. I recorded a couple songs that day, maybe two or three songs. I didn’t know it was going to be a single. The position that I’m in now, I do a lot of seed planting. I just do stuff all the time, in different places, and it just depends on when stuff starts growing and bringing attention to itself. I didn’t even know that was going to happen, but it’s good for my resumé.
How much direct involvement has Kanye had in your solo album?
Me and Kanye will collab on a few ideas for my album, but I don’t want my album to be solely based on what Kanye’s doing. I have a lot of good energy to bring to the game, and I can’t wait to just express it. August the 14th can’t come quick enough.
Everybody talks about how Kanye’s a perfectionist and can be hard to work with. Has that been your experience?
I think it’s dope, because I am too. I’m an only child. I’m a Virgo. Some of those characteristics make me really picky about certain things before they go out: mixing, mastering. On my mixtapes, that’s what separated me from a lot of people: the details that I put into my actual mixtapes, which were photoshoots, videos, I mixed songs, I mastered original compositions. So I’m detailed as well. It doesn’t really get on my nerves, I appreciate it.