Q&A: 2 Chainz On Giving Back, Being Independent, And Fitting Work Into Every Hour Of His Day

2 Chainz Feat. Dolla Boy, "Role Model"

What was your childhood like?

I'm from College Park, Georgia. I was raised by a single black woman, Ms. Epps. I love her, that's my heart. I'm an only child so it was just me and her. I knew my dad, but he spent most of my young life in and out of prison. But I still always respected him. He's doing well now, though, and he actually lives with me.

How'd you start hustling?

I'm a product of my environment. The apartment complex I'm from, pretty much everyone sold something illegal or had some type of hustle. I've been a felon since I was 15 years old. It's nothing to brag about and you'll rarely hear it in my music, but it is what it is and most importantly it helped shape the person that I am now.

How so?

Well, I learned the importance of learning from your mistakes early on in life. Even though it was hell at the time, getting caught selling coke at 15 and then getting caught selling weed my senior year in high school, I still learned from those experiences. I learned life is not a game. Getting caught in 12th grade messed up a lot of my opportunities to play ball on a scholarship. Which in turn made me become the artist you see today, but still... it could've gone either way.

So what do you think has given you an edge over the competition?

Well, just like when I was playing ball, I used to play ball every day; now that I rap, I do this every day. This is my job. I'm always in the studio. If I can't get to the studio, then I'm doing interviews. Like, for instance, after some interviews last night, I did a photo shoot with Kay Slay for his magazine. Then I went back to my suite at the W to link with Jadakiss so we can shoot a video for "One Day At A Time." Not only did I invite him over, I got Jim Jones to shoot and direct the video. A lot of people don't know he directed a lot of Dip Set videos, so I just wanted to acknowledge him for that skill. Plus I just like to push the envelope. It's what I do.

So what's your label situation like?

I'm completely independent. All the DVDs and videos you see me doing, the cups, the gifts... it's all funded by my left pocket. I pray a lot and I'm pretty sure my prayers will be answered, but I'm not stressing a deal. My phone rings every 30 minutes with some money at the other end. So, you know.

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