Ingesting frosted orange milkshake beverage from the Varsity in downtown Atlanta during a summer electrical storm causes a hiphop vortex (maybe). See, the air on North Avenue gets abnormally thick and charged with ions from lightning striking rods on top of neighboring skyscrapers. There's literally electricity in the air. With temperatures off the asphalt there next to Georgia Tech radiating 105 degrees in July and August, the way the orange milkshake substance hits a brain makes the frontal lobe start spitting verses and rhymes without control. Whether or not this vortex contributed to 2 Chainz's rise to the top of Atlanta's hiphop kingdom remains to be seen. But 2 Chainz is there, right at the top, frosted orange or not. Born Tauheed Epps, he stands six foot five with college-basketball-playing magnanimity. A punch-line bombardier who gives a shout-out to his own stove on his latest release.
Formerly known as Tity Boi, 2 Chainz hit traction on multiple fronts with Playaz Circle's "Duffle Bag Boy," featuring Lil Wayne, then mixtapes Trap-a-Velli 2: (The Residue) and Me Against the World 2: Codeine Withdrawal. Chainz had come through the vortex well-formed by his quadrangled ATL cabal of Gucci Mane, T.I., Lil Wayne, and Ludacris with his Disturbing Tha Peace label. For 2012's Based on a T.RU. Story, Chainz made the jump to Def Jam. His latest, B.O.A.T.S. II: Me Time, out last September, comes complete with a cookbook and instructions such as "If wearing a four-finger ring, carefully place it on a side table before starting to cook" (garlic mashed potatoes, step one). Chainz is the Instagram food-porn pro. Now the Grammy-nominated 2 Chainz embarks on his first-ever headlining 2 Good to Be T.R.U. Tour. He spoke from Atlanta. It was snowing there.
How's that snowstorm? Is your daughter home from school yet? It's coming down a little. It may freeze, and that's bad. Every school was out today except my daughter's private school. Then they called and said, "Come get these children!" And now there's all this traffic just stopped on the roads out here. Two inches of snow and ice shuts Atlanta down. She's been outta school since 1 and she's not home yet—it's 3:30. I'm trying to get her home. I need my baby with me, that's about it. I got home late last night from LA and the Grammys.
You were just in Honolulu for the Pro Bowl. What did you do? I enjoyed the weather. Performed. There was a great crowd out there. It's always good to go around the world and do stuff you love and get paid for it, and see whale life.
Did you wear a grass skirt? No [laughs]. Last time I was there, I did have two leis. It wasn't 2 Chainz, it was Two Leis. Everybody was saying Twoooo Leeeiiiis. I was coolin' this time. With two leis on. I like Hawaii, though. I like the weather. Everyone is from somewhere else, it's like a gumbo.
You're a basketball player, played at Alabama State. When the ball is passed to 2 Chainz, what happens? I was tall. I could see the floor. I played guard, had a pretty cool jump shot. Still do [laughs]. When I'm in Atlanta, I go to all the Hawks games, sit on the floor, take my little girl and stuff. I'll get a little fired up at the games. I still think I could do some things out there. I call some of the players bums. But I do a lot of stuff that rappers do, so I shouldn't be talking down to any pro athletes. My team, the Lakers, are sucking this year. If we can get Carmelo and maybe a good draft pick, we'll be all right. I'd like 'em to get rid of Pau Gasol and pick up Kevin Love. And Carmelo. I don't even trade my draft pick.
It's Valentine's Day time. What do you do for Valentine's Day? You gotta go out. Get dressed up. Everybody dress up. Put on some perfumes and colognes, and go sit down with some candlelight. I say what you want to order is some lobster. Really indulge in some choice lobster. Some greens, maybe some sweet potatoes. And some wine. Maybe some cheesecake after. Get you an aphrodisiac going on, so it should turn you up later on.
What kind of cologne do I need to wear? Number 9, fool. Get that. You gotta make it pop off the top.
You're a food pro. What are your latest recipe findings? For me, I'm just collaborating with my chef all the time. We're always searching for foods because I have stomach ulcers and acid reflux. We're always searching for different ways to cook food.
What made you want to do a cookbook? I post a lot of food pictures, and sometimes they get all this attention. Snoop hit me after one and was like, "Are you trying to make the whole country hungry? I need some recipes." Then I realized, man, I guess the way I eat is actually strange to people. People see these pictures and say I eat like I'm white, or like I'm on a diet. I don't eat beef or pork. I eat chicken, turkey, and seafood. I do tons of shows, I'm on the road a lot, and it's important for me to eat properly in order to keep running like this. It's a hectic schedule. Since August of 2010, we've done more than 700 shows, so I treat this like an athlete treats their sport. That's the way you gotta look at it. Stay up late, get up early, onstage always running around, jumping around. I treat rap like a sport. Very few athletes sit around and eat fried food all day. With my stomach issues, I gotta be careful. When I get sick from it, every time I tell myself I never want to feel like this again. I can't drink alcohol. When you eat healthy and do the thing right, it's another story. It's a different performance onstage, in the bedroom, with your appearance. Staying hydrated is big, too. I'm doing the cookbook with my chef. He comes everywhere with me on the tour bus. I redid the bus and put an oven in there, and a refrigerator. Being able to cook this way is much better for a person like me who has stomach issues.
Talk about your writing mind. How do you get there with your verses? You don't write things down. When you're in the studio, how do you get into the mind-set where your words are coming, with your cadences and punctuation? It's something I try to do every day. It's like a callisthenic—if you work out every day, you'll get results. I record every day. I got a lot of stuff you've never heard, and you may never hear. But I do something musically every day. And when I do a feature, it's not hard for me to go into a song and try to think of something, because I'm already in writing mode.
Out of the people you've worked with—Kanye, Mase, Drake, Pharrell, Wayne, Fergie, everybody—who have you learned the most from? Wayne's been my brother for years. I think what I get most out of being around Wayne is to think quick. How many times do you need to hear this beat before you format your verse? And that's what ranges with me—sometimes it's five, 15, 20, 30 minutes. Getting around some other artists who have the same techniques I have, like Wayne, he doesn't write stuff down, either. That's been the thing with him—can I come up with this verse quicker than I did the last one? It really has to do with the beat and the inspiration behind the music, too.
You've had some run-ins with the law over what seem to be little things. Yeah. I'm about to stop it. I went for a grinder that wasn't on me, that had nothing in it. It went to trial. They put somebody on the stand and everything. The police lied. I'd never been to trial. There was a four-finger ring incident that happened in the airport in New York. But you know, I'm learning from my mistakes. I plan on being around and want to be a fixture in the game. I've been a felon since I was 15 years old with possession of cocaine. So I'm not allowed to carry guns. I speak about them creatively in songs, yeah, but if I get caught with a gun, it's an automatic five years. So I don't do that.
How are things with Ludacris? Was there beef because you left his label? Are things okay? I came up under that umbrella of DTP. They put me on. That's how I got going. He's been doing a bunch of movies. I've been doing a bunch of rap. Our paths crossed for Fast & Furious 6, because I did a single for the movie. I saw him on the red carpet and we talked. We're still like fam. We came up together. Now that I'm grown, I wanted to go do my own thing. I wanted to go get my own. Luda's still my homie.
Talk about the title Me Time. Based on a True Story II—I thought it would be a fitting subtitle. I feel like it's my time. And when people talk about my music, they say it takes them away from the tension and stress of everyday activities. I get personal on my songs, I put stuff out there. It's sort of a diary. I talk about my father, who passed since I've gotten to this level, there are strings and pianos on there. I'm cold-turkey clean now and I can tell the truth, and there's emotion in it. I always try to surround myself with people who are confident and doing their own thing. And I always want to be changing things up, too. I don't want to stay in a box. I want to use different producers, do different things. I don't want to get stagnant. The second I become stagnant is the second my phone stops ringing with offers. I'm gonna have my normal 808 bottom, and I'm going to do it with my spit and delivery, but I want to change it up, you know, and keep moving, and keep growing.