2 Chainz Explains Why True Wealth Isn’t About Having The Most Expensivest Things (Video)
2 Chainz is putting the finishing touches on his fifth solo album, Rap Or Go To The League. The Atlanta, Georgia veteran played his newest songs for Joe Budden. Due later this year, the Def Jam Records release currently includes appearances by Chance The Rapper, E-40, Lil Wayne, and Travis Scott, among others. According to Budden, the album also contains some noteworthy samples, including the same Lonnie Liston Smith composition used on JAY-Z’s “Dead Presidents.” Perhaps much more importantly, it features a theme of Black Excellence, according to 2 Chainz. Having had one of the biggest comebacks in music, the 41-year-old born Tauheed Epps says he is committed to showing people how to invest and build wealth, not waste it.
In an hour-long interview for Budden’s Pull Up show, the two MCs discuss personal growth. 2 Chainz opens up about what he has learned regarding assets. At present, the rapper’s investment portfolio includes Escobar Restaurant & Tapas, a nail salon named Pamper, an after-hours club called Members Only, a GAS cannabis line, and a merchandise line. Additionally, 2 Chainz lists his two Las Vegas residences as a significant revenue stream. Besides his successful music career, he also hosts Most Expensivest on Viceland. 2 Chainz says his show, which was originally through GQ, is among the top two rated programs on the network. However, while the rapper may shoot a round from a $350,000 rifle, pet a $100,000 dog, put his spoon in a $1,000 ice cream sundae, or try a $100,000 martini, he admits that his real life acumen tells a different story entirely.
Artistically, 2 Chainz opens the conversation admitting that he wants to build a sustainable career and lasting legacy in Rap. He adds that he wants to insert jewels in the music, in hopes to provide information for his community and the youth that look up to the MC.
Early in the interview, Joe tells 2 Chainz that musically and personally, his energy appears different. He asks why. “Life. I had a nice 2018. I put out [Pretty Girls Like Trap Music] in 2017. I got married. I did a few business deals. I had a few collaborations, a few features,” responds the Grammy Award-winner. “A few plaques [came] in. I rocked a few big stages. I try to stay active; I try to stay busy. I launched a legal cannabis [line]. I’m just trying to have multiple streams of income, but at the same time, you have to live some type of life in order to create music.” Sitting in his studio, he notes, “I do music every day, and I try to incorporate my experiences [into] music so it just won’t be jibber-jabber.”
However, as the artist has matured, so has the content. “A lot of my music has ‘ed’ in it,” he says, referring to using past tense. “‘I did this.’ It’s not like I’m saying I currently do [something], ’cause people know that’s crap. Like, I’m not trappin’ right now; I don’t have to, which is a blessing. But I try to tell certain stories. Certain stories bring up certain painful moments. You just try to create something beautiful with it.”
Ahead of the 13:00 mark, 2 Chainz moves from music to family. The father of three says, “Let me just cut to the chase: I have two little girls, and I have a little boy. Now sometimes, relationships don’t always work out for whatever reason; I’ve had a couple of stepfathers over my time. That’s cool; I dealt wit’ ’em. But it’s just so much going on in the world; you see so much. I can’t honestly see somebody else raising my daughters or my son—like another guy if I can help it. God forbid, anything can happen. If I’m around, and I can just do what I’m supposed to, that’s what I’m here for.”
With that, 2 Chainz says that creating everlasting revenue streams for his three children is a paramount priority. “I try to pass it down. I have businesses set up that’s trickling straight down to them. That’s where I get my joy. I get my joy really [through] taking care of people.”
Budden points out that 2 Chainz is “adulting” as are other rappers, including JAY-Z and Nipsey Hussle. While praising the example it sets, Joe also jokes that “it’s a little sad and depressing.” 2 Chainz responds, “It ain’t sad; I’m winning like a mothaf*cka. I’m winning. That bus outside, that’s mine. This building is me. The other [possessions and properties] outside, that’s the materialistic things that I can talk about, that people are geekin’ on.”
Budden asks his interview guest if that is how he “measures winning.” “I walk the thin line between confidence and cockiness; I’m a little bit of both.” He explains, “Before I got on, I was really cocky. Then, when I got on, I started being more humble. And [my friends] ask me why. My answer is, I saw a lot of people before me be too cocky, and when they’re coming down the ladder, don’t nobody [sympathize]. They can’t get a sip of water. So I treat the valet [attendant] like I treat the club owner. I’ve always done that; you can ask anyone,” he declares, with a stack of hundred-dollar bills in his breast pocket. “I think relationships will take you farther than money, too. I’m havin’ it. But sometimes when you don’t have it, you need relationships. You need to make them phone calls. You can’t [have] sh*tted on somebody or burned no bridge.”
At 21:00, 2 Chainz displays his specially-designed Versace shoe, Chain Reaction, which debuted last weekend as part of a line.The rapper explains his joy in knowing that a Black man, Salehe Bembury, designed it. Budden asks how Hip-Hop got to this place of supporting each other and bigger partnerships. “You know what happened? The [wealthy Black entertainers and athletes] before us made the mistakes. The people who went to the league; we’ve seen them. We’ve been around. These young guys, they was around to see people f*ck up they money. ‘We can’t be lookin’ like no fool. We can have a little fun [but] we gotta figure it out,’…I’m still learning, man. I’m trying to buy some more buildings.”
Joe says that 2 Chainz incorporated his passion for acquiring real estate into one of the new songs. “Sometimes you just don’t know that you can get one. [Or you learn] when you get your first house. You think it’s something that’s not attainable for you or something. It just depends on what community you come from. So when you say, ‘I own this building’ or ‘restaurant,’ they’ll be like, ‘He did it?’ Then you let ’em know; you voice it. It’s not like you’re bragging or boasting, you’re just showing ’em, ‘I own this, [including] the dirt that’s under it, the building, the actual business that’s inside of it, the ATM machine that’s inside of the business.’ That’s just one business.” Later in the interview, 2 Chainz says that he owns roughly six businesses. He compares that to Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks and Shark Tank investor, who he believes owns a stake in 150 to 200 businesses.
The rapper formerly known as Tity Boi says he’s had a Drai’s Nightclub residency for three years, and another with 1 OAK Nightclub. He says that he refuses to spend that Las Vegas show money. “I ain’t even been gambling lately. I just [come from my big-boy suite], be pickin’ up my back-end [money], and gettin’ outta there.”
At 38:00, 2 Chainz also describes owning his masters, despite being signed to a major label like Def Jam. It is another thing rapped about on the upcoming album. Budden, a former Def Jam artist, says it must be a false claim. 2 Chainz corrects, “When it was time to renegotiate, that [was one of my deal points], so I could be like independent artists who do the same thing. So why wouldn’t you want to keep me on a label and keep me around? I’m sure I keep a lot of [Def Jam bills paid]. I’m not in the red; I’m a profit-making artist. Give the man his sh*t!”
Moments later, the former Psychology major at Alabama State University looks back to the early days of his career and learning a hard lesson. “Before you get in the game, your dream is to make $1 million. That’s our dream. We write a list of what we gonna buy; that’s like what we do.” He continues, “The first big house that I was gonna get, it was [more than] $700,000. Rest in peace, Pop; my dad was with me. So I had $800,000 [saved up]. I go to the house; I tell Pop [voila!]. I tell Pop, ‘I’m thinking about buyin’ this mothaf*cka.’ He’s like, ‘For real? This mothaf*cka big.’ I said, ‘I know.’ In Atlanta, you can get something really big [for that price]. [My father said], ‘How are you gonna furnish it?’ [Sighs] I said, ‘O-kay. Let’s get in the car.’ I was hurt. He just popped my bubble. At that particular time, I ain’t think about that sh*t; some people don’t have Pop there to tell ’em, ‘Snap out of it. Ni**a, you trippin’.’ Some ni**as jump over the cliff and sometimes don’t have a parachute. That’s a real-life experience.”
Again looking back at hard lessons, 2 Chainz says “f*cked up some money” early in his career, even at a time when street hustling was paying his bills. “When I was in Playaz Circle, I was a lil’ active; you had to be. With my previous gig [in the group], I wasn’t getting no paper! My paper came up out the [trap].” That was all before 2012’s Based On A T.R.U. Story. “The new me, every time I buy maybe three chains, I buy a building. That’s what I’ve been doing lately, just to make me feel better.” At 43:00, he says, “I f*cked a lot of money up on jewelry, cars, rims, clothes.”
However, he admits that he is still a work in progress. “I spent over a million dollars in clothes last year,” 2 Chainz says with some reluctance. “This is not like cap; I have the [profits and losses spreadsheet]. I have everything broken down. I spent a million dollars in clothes. I can’t even tell you some of these brands; I don’t want to blow them up anymore. That’s where I’m drawing back; I’m trying to have a whole new [value system].” Now he wears his own merchandise when he can, including in the interview, to advertise it.
According to Budden, Rap Or Go To The League also includes a song, “Uncle Sam,” about the IRS. “In my particular bracket, I pay 33% of my total income, which [amounts to being] almost 50% if you ask me. That’s why [I get frustrated].” He adds that he is thankful for his accomplishments, but wants to create literacy about what the government expects from its taxpayers.
In the closing 20 minutes of the interview, 2 Chainz describes his upcoming album themes. “I talk about Black Excellence, each-one-teach-one, I try to give game and sprinkle knowledge without being boring.”
Elsewhere in the interview, 2 Chainz says that he is considering stopping smoking weed on camera. He praises the “new Atlanta” rappers including J.I.D., Gunna, and Lil Baby. He also confirms that while he is close with the G.O.O.D. Music family, he never signed. Rather, he says it was an opportunity for people to work together in a mutually beneficial way without publishing splits and contracts.