If you enter the number “2” followed by the letter “C” into any search engine, your computer will instantly offer you a grip of music and fashion content related to 2 Chainz, arguably this decade’s most visually charismatic rapper. If that’s not a sign of world domination, we don’t know what is.
After you spend a little time with Mr. Chainz, as we did for this interview and photoshoot, you get the sense that he’s a guy who really, really loves being 2 Chainz. Much like his rapping, his inimitable personal style is a mixture of innate genius, years of refinement and a refusal to see ceilings for himself, which yeah, comes in handy when you are 6 foot 5.
On the eve of the release of his hyped new album Pretty Girls Like Trap Music, we caught up with 2 Chainz during our photoshoot to chat with the rap giant about new music, his dog Trappy and what it takes to be dripping with swag every minute of every day.
When you were coming up and developing your style, what was your process like? A lot of people try to rap along with their favorite rappers to get a sense of their flow and stuff like that. What did you do to find your sound?
I don’t think you can discover your own style mimicking people so I just practiced my own style, made some mistakes and worked on myself. I felt like I had stories to tell and I just had to find the way to tell them. I think that’s why I’m the only 2 Chainz.
I was blessed enough to put out several mixtapes before my first solo album so I had a good idea of what people wanted from me. I was doing shows for a long time too, so I was able to really deliver when it came time to expand.
Did you learn anything about yourself in the course of making your new album, Pretty Girls Like Trap Music?
I think any artist will grow each time they create a new project. With my music, it might be a matter of looking back to a place you were at or a state of mind that you were in and just realizing how far you’ve come. Everything I do has a conceptual theme to it, so for this album I really wanted to make my kind of trap music and also make that a kind of music that pretty girls would like.
Your music is so energetic and positive. Do you have to get yourself into a certain creative zone before you perform or record?
I’m in the zone every day. When you wake up loving what you do, you don’t need drugs or meditation or anything to get to that level. I just focus on being a better person, a better rapper. I’m very competitive. I’m not content to just be where I’m at, I want to beat everyone else and inspire them.
Let’s take it back to your days as a young swaglord. What were the cool dudes wearing down South back in the ‘80s and '90s?
You know, we had the Adidas and Fila tracksuits, which of course were influenced by Run DMC. When I was real, real young all the dope boys, who were the heroes of the hood, had silk shirts and Jordache jeans. My older cousins were kinda preps so they wore Tretorn and like, Duck Head, brands like that. I would always try to steal their clothes. And then, of course, Polo has been the staple of Atlanta forever, whether it was the Ralph Lauren chinos or Polo socks. That was really our thing.
When did your interest in clothes start? Did you think of them as an enhancement to the rapping or…?
I was the freshest n—- before I even started rapping. I could always see, and I can still see now, when n—- change after paying attention to me. Anytime I’m out, I’m looking nice and clean, ya know what I mean? That’s just the Virgo in me. Even when I just had a little, I always had enough to keep looking fresh and up and running. You can look online and see me with the Gucci messenger bag, the Gucci belt, the Gucci shoes back in 2007. What you see now, it’s not the start of it for me, it’s a continuation.
As an artist with serious swag, do you have any tips for those nice touches a dude can add to his look?
I’d say, just do you. I mean, you’ll see me in everything from multiple bracelets to a Chanel brooch. It’s about that mix. You can do a $1,000 Goyard scarf or a bandana. It’s about variety, and there’s no real advice to give or to follow. It’s just about always being next and that comes from within.
Your dog, Trappy, could make for a nice accessory, right?
I mean, Trappy is the most popular dog without an Instagram. I got everyone in this industry to want to carry around a dog, show off their dog. It’s a dog era right now! People do things to pull chicks or look cool, but for me Trappy is emotional support. He goes everywhere I go, except New York because it’s hard for him to find space and time to be comfortable. Other than that, we everywhere.
Do you have any favorite pieces you keep coming back to?
I’m a hoarder, man [laughs]. I have jerseys from so far back in the day. I have stuff that people at brands probably don’t even know got made. I have all the best stuff from every era. I can’t wear all of it, but I have it.
Pre-order “Pretty Girlz Like Trap Music” on June 16th on Apple Music.