Was there one moment when you said, “Wow, I’m really blowing up”?
I was getting a lot of phone calls everyday. But by the time Hov (Jay-Z) called, I knew I was doing something. Jay was like, ‘I hear you running shit.’ And I was like, “True…” But getting all those calls from different people was just crazy.
But you ended up signing with Def Jam. Why?
I knew people in the building. I had relationships with a few people. Some people followed my career and others didn’t. It just felt like I had more leverage at Def Jam. They understood my personality. They knew where I came from. And it was a more comfortable fit for me to be a part of something that I was part of before with Playaz Circle. I have direct contact to the people I need to talk to instead of just having a filter to go through like I did before.
What comes to mind when you perform Playaz Circle’s “Duffle Bag Boy” today as 2 Chainz?
What comes to mind? That I’ve been kind of dope before 2 Chainz [laughs].
Part of the mythology of 2 Chainz is your name change. Did you just wake up one day and say, “Middle America is not ready for Tity Boy…I have to make a change”?
It was a timing thing. People wasn’t listening when I was Tity Boi. That’s why I speak on griming which is timing mixed with grinding. It’s a term that I coined. That’s a perfect example of what you are looking at: time multiplied by grind.
But really I was always going by 2 Chainz even when I was Tity Boi. I didn’t do [the name change] on my own. I could never take the credit for that. It was just a blessing that God gave me. There just came a time where I worked so hard people started listening…not just hearing, but listening to my music. So I started yelling 2 Chainz before verses. The name became more family friendly. People were finding it fun to say.
What did you take away from your time rolling with Ludacris?
Ludacris is a very smart individual. He’s about his business. Everything is business with him. So I learned a lot about making deals from him. He owns liquors, restaurants…he owns a lot of things outside of music. Just being around him gave me another edge to have when I went on further with my career and started taking meetings.
Your association with Kanye West has opened you up to an even broader fanbase. Is he the recording maniac dictator that he’s made out to be?
[Laughs] It’s not like that. Ye’s sessions are very laidback. He is really cool. You basically have everything you need right there in front of you in the studio. You don’t have to really go anywhere. He has a team of people that are experts in [the recording] field. It’s always fun working with those cats.
You seem to have a strong connection with Nicki Minaj from recording together to being the opening act on her current tour. How does your chemistry come off so effortlessly?
Nicki is a dope ass chick and I’m a dope ass dude, and when we team up it’s like it’s going down. Right now, it’s just me and Nicki. And then I’ll probably go out on my own tour. But I’ve been knowing Nicki for years. I respect her creative expression. I respect how she moves and I respect how she feels about being a black woman that’s a millionaire. I love that about her. She definitely supports everything I’m doing. It’s just real love. I got nothing but love for her and the whole Young Money camp over there.
Let’s jump outside of music. You were on the basketball team in college. How big of a sports fan are you?
I’m going to always be a [Los Angeles] Lakers fan. But I’m very, very, very excited for LeBron [James] getting his first ring.
A Lakers fan cheering for a Bron…that’s sacrilegious, huh?
[Laughs] Me and him became great friends this year. The dude represents, man. When he won the championship he said, “True.” So that just made me feel so good. And he sends me shoes personally. So I feel like, “Go Bron, Bron!” [laughs] Keep winning folk.
2012 has been quite a whirlwind for you. Do you ever find time to see your family considering you have been out on the road the majority of the year?
It’s tough sometimes. That’s when you got to learn how to work all your gadgets. You have to use iChat and Skype…everything, man. Because it’s just going so fast for me that I don’t even know what’s going on anymore to the point where I lose days of the weeks. It’s all in God’s plan. I don’t think he wouldn’t put nothing on me I couldn’t handle. I’m 2 Chainz, but when I get home I’m a father. I like to take care of things. I’m a provider. Long as my family is smiling and I can keep them as entertained as the fans then I guess it will be good.