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2 Chainz isn't resting on his rap laurels

For Journal Register Newspapers

Posted: Monday, February 25, 2013

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Rapper 2 Chainz has plenty to be proud of right now.

The Georgia-born MC, a onetime church choir singer and high school basketball star, hit No. 2 on the Billboard 200 with his first album, "Based on a T.R.U. Story," which also spawned the chart-topping single "No Lie" with Drake guesting. 2 Chainz also hit No. 1 with "Mercy" from the "Cruel Summer" compilation from Kanye West's G.O.O.D. Music crew (including Detroit's Big Sean), and he snagged three Grammy Award nominations, including Best Rap Album.

He says he's pleased with all the success -- but not necessarily satisfied.

"I'm definitely loving the feedback," says 2 Chainz, 35, who was born Tauheed Epps and known musically as Tity Boi before changing his handle to something more "family friendly" in 2011. "I feel like good things come to those who work hard. I'm definitely loving all the support. I'm always really being critical on myself, like I should turn it up more or work a little bit harder.

"But for the most part, I have things to be grateful for -- and I am. I definitely appreciate the opportunity. But at the end of the day, I can't be content. I'm very appreciative of the moment, but I understand what I need to do. I don't need to be complacent...and celebrate I gotta keep my foot on the gas."

That shouldn't be a problem; if 2 Chainz has established anything since he formed the duo Playaz Circle in 1997, it's his strong work ethic. That includes seven mixtapes that preceded "Based on a T.R.U. Story" and a slew of guest appearances for artists such as Lil Wayne, Ludacris, Wale, Young Jeezy, Nelly, T.I. and Drake, with more on tap for 2013.

"I feel like I planted a lot of seeds coming up to this point," explains 2 Chainz, who hasn't even been slowed by a Valentine's Day arrest in Maryland for possession of marijuana. "When you plant seeds, the thing about them is you don't know when they're going to grow, but they do grow for me. And it felt like everything started popping up at one time. Everything stared lining up...But I worked hard for that to happen."

Most importantly, the rapper notes, "I knew from the start I wanted to be my own boss, asking and answer my own questions, interacting with people basically without a bridge or someone in-between. I wanted to be in tune with my (music) and hands-on with the people that are touching it, selling it, marketing it. I wanted to be able to express my ideas and have the leverage to have people actually listen to me."

That's largely what's happened, and 2 Chainz has enjoyed the fruits of that control -- including four BET Hip Hop Awards, a Soul Train Award and a Man of the Year honor from Source magazine. Now he's thinking about what comes next; his second album is in the works, but 2 Chainz says something in the movie realm is also possible.

"It sounds like a world I could be part of," he acknowledges. "We've got a couple of scripts we're looking at. We've got a couple endorsements. We've been looking at contracts, (publishing) deals. We have a few things going on in our small little world.

"I'm just taking it one day at a time. My team is focused. We're still trying to make an impact in different things. I don't want to limit myself, so just be expecting some more from 2 Chainz."

2 Chainz, Yo Gotti and Trina perform at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 25, at the Fox Theatre, 2211 Woodward Ave., Detroit. Tickets are $69.50 and $29.50.

Call 313-471-6611 or visit www.olympiaentertainment.com.

Web Site: www.olympiaentertainment.com

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