Happy 2 Chainz Day! That’s the feeling you get from all the hype surrounding the omnipresent Atlanta rapper’s major label debut Based on a T.R.U. Story, released today. VIBE caught up with the artist formerly known as Tity Boi to get his views on his seemingly meteoric rise; how an out-of-the-blue phone call from Jay-Z gave 2 Chainz perspective about his long and strange journey; why Nicki Minaj is his perfect match; and what led to the making of T.R.U. Story. From the man himself.—Keith Murphy (@murphdogg29)
VIBE: So let’s get into Based on a T.R.U. Story. What type of sound were you going for?
2 Chainz: I like to make people move and react in different ways. I like for people to have fun and that comes out in the music. I’m sound driven. And I love to be witty with the lyrics. I held it down for Georgia for the most part on the production. I got Sonny Digital, Mike Will, Southside, StreetRunner, Bangledesh, DJ Mustard, and Drumma Boy. And I got Hit-Boy, The-Dream [and more].
You’ve said in a recent interview that you shut down requests for song features during the heavy lifting for T.R.U. How much of a zone were you in during the recording process?
It was crazy. I slowed down on the features a little bit because I was gearing up for the album. Every artist has reached out to me. I’ve done a song with almost everybody in the game. That’s a blessing, too. I can’t keep up with the numbers anymore.
I want to take you back to the moment you parted ways with Ludacris’ Disturbing The Peace in 2010 before setting up your solo situation. At this point you had already found some success with Playaz Circle, but it seems like the music industry was ready to bury you. How were you able to stay positive at a time when people were saying, “Tity Boi had his shot…it’s time to move on”?
Me owning a recording studio helped me a lot. I just stepped up my workload and my work ethic and created so many songs that I had to find different avenues on releasing them whether it was through Playaz Circle or 2 Chainz. Just all the features I was doing, all my mixtapes. During that time between Playaz Circle and me changing over from Tity Boi to 2 Chainz it was just about me being productive.
The moment you broke through beyond the South was the release of your 2011 mixtape T.R.U. REALigon, which produced the national hit single “Spend It.” Can you talk about the process of going from Tity Boi to the hottest unsigned act in hip-hop?
I had a very strong viral and social media campaign. Doing shows and features combined with the mixtapes helped me to become a familiar face to people because I felt like I just needed to connect the dots with the fans. I felt like I had something to bring to the table and my peers respected me so much to the point where I just had to get that same respect from the fans. I think I’ve done that over the last year or two. People know I work hard.
You had several label deals on the table. At what point did you know it was time to sign with a major?
I had to sign to a label sooner or later because I thought I really maximized things. I had done everything up until that point. I was on the cover of magazines. I had Top 40 records. I had videos that were getting played on TV. I was doing the same things that major artists were doing. So with just getting a deal it was all about figuring out what they can do for me radio wise and what they can do for me on the international scale. ‘Cause I had cornered certain markets in the United States as far as just building my career.