2 Chainz Talks "Riot", Collaborating with Nicki Minaj, "Based on a T.R.U. Story", Favorite Rappers, and More
"It's going down. There's a lot of riot gear and plenty of fire," 2 Chainz says of his new music video for "Riot".
However, it officially goes down on August 14, when the Atlanta MC drops his anxiously awaited new full-length, Based on a T.R.U. Story featuring the aforementioned single.
Nevertheless, "Riot" kicks things off with a big bang. It's an energetic and anthemic fire-starter of a track illuminating how deft 2 Chainz is behind a mic. He's as clever as he is catchy, and he's a contender for the hip hop crown given his inimitable flow and staggering presence. That's a T.R.U. story, and you're going to feel it the second you hear him.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, 2 Chainz talks "Riot", collaborating with Nicki Minaj on "Beez in the Trap", Based on a T.R.U. Story, some favorite rappers, and so much more.
What's the story behind "Riot"?
When I make records, I think about the crowd. I do a lot of shows so I envision reactions. I see crowd participation and stuff like that while I'm making songs. It's cool that I don't have to rap much on that song once I perform it. They get in the mode for that one. "Riot" was produced by DJ Spinz. He's an Atlanta DJ who works on the radio and also makes beats. He came to my studio and played some beats. Every time a producer comes to my studio to play beats, I like to do a song right in front of them on the spot so they can take it to the barbershop with them. Around the time he played the beats, I was going out and causing scenes. I like to consider my music reality-based. It wasn't hard to do at all. I feel like I got it. It's like, "Damn, this is my thing." It's something everybody picked up on it. I enjoy performing it now. I thought "Riot" would be a good follow-up to "Spend It" because "Spend It" is energetic. "Riot" was organic as well.
Is it important for you to paint pictures with your rhymes?
Oh yeah, I like to consider myself writing treatments when I do songs. The verse is the actual treatment. You should be able to visualize and see some of the things. That's why a lot of my verses may be humorous because the music is based on reality. I don't talk about driving airplanes or boats because I don't have one. I say what people think sometimes.
Do you feel like this introduces people to Based on a T.R.U. Story?
Oh yeah! The album is slated for August 14, but I have a good feeling we're going to have to push it up because every day the anticipation is getting crazier. I'm recording from week to week. I'm developing more treatments and visuals. I'm working on more energetic anthems like "Riot". I'm looking forward to it. I put out a tweet yesterday and said I'm working on the rap album of the year. I know a lot of people drop this year, but I had to put that out year. I'm putting a lot of effort and time into it. I maximize my output with the mixtapes, but I plan on taking it to a new level with the album.
Are all of the songs connected on the album?
The album is conceptual. "Riot" is what it is. If people come out on the road with me, they'll see. Women go crazy. Dudes rock with me. My album will have some energy because I do gigs and need some show-based material. At the same time, you've got to give the people something to listen to. It's something they can get dressed to and they can relate to and digest. The whole goal is to conceptualize and have some substance to separate myself doing the type of music I do.
What is some of the story in the album?
"T.R.U." is an acronym for "The Real University". It's something I put together on my own. The theme is organic. It's like a college in space or online where I recruit different individuals and give them scholarships. You can also get dropped and kicked out of the school too. It's based on being an individual, being a leader, and being comfortable in your own skin and your community. I tried to make Based on a T.R.U. Story about an individual who did it his way and is confident the whole way there even when it wasn't looking that good.
In some ways, do you feel like this is the first time the world will really get to know you as an artist?
Playaz Circle was me and Dolla boy. It was two people coming in with concepts together and agreeing on one thing. Based on a T.R.U. story is all my creative control from the marketing to the merchandise. It's definitely the first major distribution from 2 Chainz.
What inspires you outside of music?
I'm a great listener. I like to observe different things. I'm a sponge. I never got a C in high school. I like to think I'm a little ahead of the curve as far as being educated goes. I can remember things. I travel a lot. The music can be my experiences or experiences of those close to me.
What rappers inspired you?
I like Geto Boys, Scarface, Nas's I Am… record, I love Raekwon and Ghostface Killah's Only Built 4 Cuban Linx..., I was a fan of N.W.A, and I'm definitely a fan of UGK and Pimp C. I'm a fan of Outkast as well as 8Ball & MJG. I could go on and on. I was a fan of a lot of Southern rap with lyrics and substance.
If you were to compare Based on a T.R.U. Story to a movie or a combination of movies, what would you compare it to?
Training Day, man! King Kong ain't got shit on me. I'm a big fan of Denzel Washington so I thought it'd be cool.
Are there any other movies you come back to?
Of course, I like Will Ferrell and comedy. For the most part, I'm a music man.
Did you and Nicki Minaj click instantly on "Beez In the Trap"?
It was really cool. I was on tour with her and Lil Wayne in 2009 on the I Am Music tour. She reached out. She said she had an urban song and was going in a different direction. Every time she played it, people were like, "2 Chainz should do it." My resume is filled with trap. I'm a street dude. It was a good situation. She gave it to me and I knocked it out on my tour bus and sent it right back. We shot the video already. I'm looking forward to it. I'm showing a different style being animated but staying down to my T.R.U. campaign. It was fun to do.
What's next for you?
Trying to take over the world, be consistent, and be a fixture in the hip hop game. I want to stay relevant and swag out.
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