March 13th, 2012
02:08 PM ET
The backstage rooms at Atlanta’s Center Stage aren't meant to hold more than a dozen or so people, but on this particular Tuesday there were at least 70 in a room where 2 Chainz was collecting his thoughts after rocking a sold-out show in his hometown on March 6.
A publicist was rushing journalists, bloggers and photographers through their interviews, and every eye (and camera for that matter) in the entire space seemed to be fixated on the tall frame of the night’s big star.
And 2 Chainz was loving every minute of it.
The newly signed Def Jam solo artist, born Tauheed Epps, has found new success since his days as part of the duo Playa’s Circle. Along with the artist Dolla Boy, the group released two albums via Ludacris’ Disturbing Tha Peace imprint and had their biggest hit with 2007’s “Duffle Bag Boy,” featuring Lil’ Wayne.
Pan forward a few years and a name change, and 2 Chainz is now the artist behind two big mixtapes, named as part of XXL magazine’s 2012 Freshman class and profiled by Forbes. Word has it that the “Mob Wives” came to check out his recent sold-out New York City show.
In the midst of the backstage chaos, CNN caught up with 2 Chainz, where he opened up about being a mama’s boy, his relationship with his old boss, Ludacris, and signing with what he calls “The Machine."
CNN: You went by Tity Boi before 2 Chainz, and I read that’s because you’re a bit of mama's boy?
2 Chainz: My mama came to the show tonight.
CNN: She did?
2 Chainz: Yeah, she’s here with my aunts. I can’t get away! I knew what she was going to say before she got here.
CNN: What’s that?
2 Chainz: “Tau, I’m so proud of you!” I’m proud of her too, so you know the feeling is mutual. It feels good to put a smile on your family’s faces. A lot of friends came out. And you came out. That’s what’s up!
CNN: It’s not like you failed the first time around, but you told The FADER your solo campaign is like your “second chance”?
2 Chainz: “Duffle Bag Boy” was big for me, but I knew it wasn’t my time. I knew we had [a] megastar on the song as far as [Lil’ Wayne]. I was close enough to want to get there. I just kind of propelled from there and continued working. I have a great relationship with Wayne and Young Money/Cash Money. Then of course the Luda blueprint, of me just doing business first, helped what I’ve got going on. It just feels like the first day for me because I’m still as hungry.
CNN: Speaking of Ludacris, a lot of folks seem to want to pit you two against each other. Why is that? Was the split from DTP a bad one?
2 Chainz: [Luda] is smart; that’s kind of what I take from that whole situation. I’ve learned from every situation I’ve been...whether it’s been bad or good. Talking bad about someone...I learned you don’t really get anywhere from [doing that], especially in my case now that I’m successful in certain eyes. I don’t have any reasons to be disrespectful or throw anybody under the bus.
CNN: You recently signed a solo deal with Def Jam, but you consistently refer to labels as “The Machine.” What does that mean, and is it a bad thing?
2 Chainz: I look at it like it’s not an individual, it’s a huge machine behind you. If you don’t have your own campaign, your own circle, then it’s hard for them to get behind you and push.
I mentioned earlier that a lot of labels, they don’t believe in developing anymore. You've kind of got to have your stuff together already. I enjoy being in control, having a lot of creative control. Being that the formula is working it makes them believe in you and become patient. That’s the relationship I have with Def Jam, which is kind of sweet. After talking to them they’re like, “We tell artists what to do, but [in] your case we’re just going to follow your lead,” because I did so many things on my own with limited resources.
CNN: OK, so you’re now an accomplished solo musician. What goals do you have in life outside of music?
2 Chainz: I want to be a successful landlord. I like real estate.
2 Chainz: Yeah, I want to get a bunch of properties and pick up [rent] every month, put it somewhere and make sure the kids are straight. It’s all about growth and prosperity, so that’s something I could see doing and not having to do that much work.
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