2 Chainz cannot be denied. The Atlanta-based rapper is seemingly everywhere these days. His single “No Lie,” featuring YMCMB rhymer Drake, recently went gold. He continues to be an omnipresent force on the hip-hop landscape, hitting the studio with everyone from Nicki Minaj (“I Luv Dem Strippers”) to Kanye West (“Birthday Song”). Indeed, with the leaking of his much anticipated album solo debut Based On A T.R.U. Story, officially due out August 14, 2 Chainz is a wanted man.
But for the animated 6’5 rhymer born Tauheed Epps, he credits one song with opening up the floodgates to mainstream glory. 2 Chainz’ song-stealing anchoring of West’s no. 1 G.O.O.D. Music track “Mercy” has helped catapult the rapper formerly known as Tity Boy into a household name. But according to Chainz, he had no idea that the song would become such a mammoth anthem. He thought he was working on a random mixtape track.
“I definitely didn’t know it was a hit,” a candid Chainz told VIBE. “I remember ‘Ye and them called me and said they were going to put it out as a single for GOOD Friday. I didn’t even realize what song it was because I’ve done so many.”
Working with the highly secretive West was an eye-opener for 2 Chainz. In music industry circles, the secretive Chicago hip-hop superstar has been known to keep an obsessive grip on studio sessions to ensure no leakage of songs. Yet West still plays the role of gracious host. “All of my experiences with GOOD Music have been great,” Chainz said of his time with the Watch the Watch the Throne MC’s hardworking unit. “Ye is somebody that records differently than everybody else. He takes his own engineer wherever he records. He takes his studio with him. His recording process is really private. He doesn’t even like to share it with everybody. That’s why a lot of his stuff doesn’t leak out.”
As for Chainz’ rise from being a bit player in Ludacris’ Disturbing tha Peace crew in the early ‘00s, to becoming a boisterous rap favorite who now finds himself opening up for Nicki Minaj, he is still taking it all in. “I just feel appreciated,” he said. “I mean it’s not quite like saying, ‘I told you so.’ But all the hard work and time put in and all the seeds being planted, I just feel like it’s all starting to grow right now. There’s a lot of love and respect out there and I appreciate it, man. It couldn’t happen to another person, man. I don’t know if anyone else could be able to handle this. I’m humbled by the whole thing.”—Keith Murphy (@murphdogg29)