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2 Chainz: Smoking on Premium Gas

“You can sleep when you die, you can sleep when you die!” Tity Boi, Tauheed Epps, 2 Chainz—regardless of how you know him, you know him. 2 Chainz has erupted over the past decade: air time on the hottest radio stations, collaborations with VICE and GQ, guest appearances on The View. He even put up with Nancy Grace. This trap king has made a name for himself on just about every level, from the streets to the screen. Epps has an appeal, a way of connecting with people. He’s likeable. Not to mention, he loves good weed. What most don’t realize is his commitment to the hustle. We flew down to Atlanta and got to experience it firsthand.

“In a community like ATL, you gotta be someone that can show people it’s attainable. You gotta be that person. Do things in front of the youth, inspire. That’s the culture in Atlanta.”

Luckily for us, 2 Chainz doesn’t do 6 a.m. mornings—or does he only do 6 a.m. mornings? His “sleep when you die” sentiment is for real. While traveling back and forth between NYC, LA and ATL, he quite literally doesn’t sleep several days a week. As the father of three children, owner of a record label and multiple recording studios, TV show host and devoted philanthropist, there just isn’t time for it. We didn’t meet with 2 Chainz until the middle of the night, while he was in between work days; he was ending one day, with meetings at 2 a.m. the next. So we crept into the studio to meet with him at 12 a.m., like you do. He was juggling projects, recording and planning his newest album drop, tour and GAS cannabis line. Totally normal. But for 2 Chainz, it’s just that. Normal.

The Early Days

Atlanta—the birthplace of some of the most famous musicians to date, including OutKast, Lil Wayne and T.I., just to name a few—is where 2 Chainz calls home. Born and raised in College Park, Georgia, an immediate suburb of Atlanta, 2 Chainz is the only son of a single mother. His previous moniker, Tity Boi, is derived from being just that. Calling someone a “titty boy” just means they were breast fed, or a spoiled child who was never told “no”; it’s not meant to be an obscene or misogynistic term. To broaden his mass appeal, however, he became 2 Chainz. Since the name change, Chainz has risen to a level of success few people will ever see, especially coming from the bottom. So how did he get there?

“I’m gonna get a Grammy next year . . . I’m gonna shoot a movie next year . . . I’m trying to be legendary status when I leave.”

Remember waaay back in 2007, when Weezy and Ludacris were running the Southern rap game? That’s when we saw Tity first jump off—and a big jump, at that. “Duffle Bag Boy,” a single off Supply & Demand, was his first intro to the big leagues as half of the Playaz Circle. With Lil Wayne on the track, it easily went viral; today, it has more than 16 million views. Unfortunately, the album never saw the single’s same commercial success, and while some have attributed it to his Tity Boi moniker, others have blamed it on being part of a duo rather than working as a solo artist. Personally, I think it just wasn’t his time—and I only say that because his time is clearly now. He’s had a plethora of chart-topping songs every year since 2012, hosted two incredibly popular shows, and done hundreds of interviews about everything from the effects of cannabis legalization to why his dog fell asleep on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. Chainz proved himself as one of the most devoted artists in the game when, despite a broken leg, he carried out an entire album tour in a tricked-out wheelchair. If that doesn’t explain how he got here, I don’t know what will.

The Interview

While plenty of the interviews I’ve done have been in the middle of the night, after a performance or something similar, I’ve never scheduled a start time at 11 p.m. Pulling up to a nondescript building in the middle of the night in an unfamiliar town to meet with a superstar, I was just hopeful he’d have enough juice to get through the interview. It was here where I learned Chainz really believes what he says: you can sleep when you die. We walked into a fully hopping business. From producers working the tables to people charging up his Maybach (a really fancy Mercedes-Benz most of us have never seen, and never will), this was a fully operational, 24/7 show.

“What I’m trying to put out to consumers is a level of luxury when it comes to the flower . . . I’ve been saying ‘smoking on gas’ since my first singles in the game . . . and it basically means strong or premium.”

As I walked the long corridor of the facility, I could see 2 Chainz standing with his manager—actually, standing over him might be more accurate. At 6’5” in his distinctive red Gucci jacket, his star power was felt from across the room. Immediately receptive to our presence, he greeted us, then went right back to what he was doing: work. As the photographer and videographer set up, I slipped past the Maybach and into the studio with Chainz and his crew. To say he smokes tough would be an understatement; there was not a time in the two-plus hours we were there that he wasn’t smoking. That’s even after I passed around two hand-rolled cannagars packed full of oil, kief and, of course, some GAS flower from his new cannabis line. When it came time to get busy, he hopped right into the photoshoot, never missing a beat. I’ve honestly never seen someone multitask so aggressively—and so flawlessly. Executing his poses, he was more comfortable in front of the camera than Tyra Banks, yet conversations with his team never left his focus. He discussed everything from new features on songs, collabs with other artists, his upcoming tour, and the opening of his LA GAS line.

As soon as we finished shooting, it was straight over to the interview—but not without a new joint, of course. With his Gucci fanny pack and glistening chains, his quiet confidence can be felt in his direct stare. “What I’m trying to put out to consumers is a level of luxury when it comes to the flower,” Chainz shares. “I’ve been saying ‘smoking on gas’ since my first singles in the game . . . and it basically means strong or premium.” His jump into the cannabis space isn’t because he wants to make a quick buck; cannabis is an intimate part of his everyday lifestyle. If a new weed line wasn’t enough for fans, we can already expect another album to drop. “The name of my new album is called Rap Or Go To The League,” he explains, “and when I say that, I’m basically speaking about African American culture, as far as that being something that was often heard or said in our community that I felt was a stereotype.” Chainz is referring to the perceived idea that the only way for POC to be successful is to get into hip-hop or “go to the league,” i.e., become a professional athlete.

2 Chainz is an example of bottom-up success, and many don’t understand how meaningful that can be to one’s hometown. As Chainz puts it, “In a community like ATL, you gotta be someone that can show people it’s attainable. You gotta be that person. Do things in front of the youth, inspire. That’s the culture in Atlanta.” You can feel that ideology in every project he executes. He’s already achieved greatness—so what else is out there for Tauheed? “I’m gonna get a Grammy next year,” he asserts. I’m gonna shoot a movie next year . . . I’m trying to be legendary status when I leave.”


Website: 2chainz.com  |  Instagram: @hairweavekiller  |  Twitter: @2chainz  |  Facebook: @2Chainz


 

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