2 Chainz Is Doing the Most

With a True Religion collab, a tour, and a trio of new albums in the works, is he the hardest-working man in hip-hop?

Music 
9,498 Hypes 10 Comments

The way he tells it, 2 Chainz was his high school’s best-dressed student. As a teenager in Atlanta, he spent his money on high-end sportswear from Walter’s Clothing, wearing Polo Ralph Lauren chinos to class when all of his peers were in jeans. “I’ve always been fresh,” he says, with a shrug. “Design is something I really care about. I always cared about a lot more things than a normal rap artist. I’ve always been having that sh*t on.”

It’s partly braggadocio, sure. Yet it’s not hard to believe: Chainz is a figure unlike any other to have emerged from the Atlanta scene of the early noughties. He’s one of hip-hop’s wittiest lyricists and most mercurial artists, whose music veers from lurching trap to soulful reflection, often on the same record. And he remains one of the industry’s most popular and in-demand figures: to date, he has made a staggering 400-plus guest appearances on the records of other artists.

“People like working with me”, he says, speaking to HYPEBEAST from his home in Atlanta. “I get the job done, and I do what I’m supposed to do.”

That collaborative nature has been a running thread throughout his career since its beginning. Not least in T.R.U. Realigion, the EP which marked his breakout as a solo artist upon its release a decade ago, and which featured guest spots from 90s stalwarts Raekwon and Jadakiss, alongside then-rising stars from Meek Mill to Big Sean. In its celebration of the community around him, the record acted as a statement of intent for Chainz, and a template for the music he would go on to make over the next ten years. “It was a hustler showing the rest of the world what we got on,” as he puts it now.

That record has now been re-released as a tenth anniversary edition, complete with a duo of new songs. It’ll be accompanied by a U.S. tour, which kicks off in late November. And, most significantly for the artist, it’s the focus of a full-scale fashion collaboration with the denim brand True Religion, which inspired the title of his EP.

“It was for the people that had money, and wanted other people to know they could afford it.”

The prospect of a retrospective collection wasn’t a natural fit for Chainz — by his own admission, he dislikes looking backwards. But he was drawn to the “full-circle” notion of partnering with a label that he had grown up admiring so strongly.

“I really was f*ckin with them hard,” he says, estimating that he has spent, conservatively, hundreds of thousands of dollars on True Religion products in his lifetime. His collection is extensive enough, now, to fill eight closets. “Everybody in the stores used to call me,” he remembers. “I was buying out the store every time they brought out new stuff.”

This isn’t Chainz’ first entry into fashion — aside from a 2015 line of novelty Christmas sweaters, which raised $2m USD for charity, his 2018 collaboration with Versace produced the ‘Chain Reaction’, one of the best-ever selling sneaker styles for the brand.

That collaboration also brought him into a working relationship with the footwear designer Salehe Bembury, who first introduced Chainz to Donatella Versace, and later co-designed the Chain Reaction with him. Chainz remains effusive about Bembury, with whom he has maintained a close creative exchange. Indeed, after Bembury’s departure from Versace, Chainz was among the first to see his solo design projects, before they were shared with the press.

“Chainz is equally a chameleon as he is consistent within his energy,” says Bembury via email. “He has reinforced how valuable it is to be one’s self to the fullest of your ability.” Plus, he adds, “Chainz got his jump shot from me. Don’t edit that out!”

“That’s my brother,” says Chainz. “He pulled me into Versace, and I’m forever grateful for that, and forever supportive of what he has going on. Whatever he wants to do, I ride with him.”

He laughs. “Make sure you print that in bold, so he can see it.”

Yet the True Religion project is distinct from the other collections he’s put his name to: more than a guest cameo, it represents the fruition of a long-held ambition to work with a brand that was the defining aspiration symbol of his young adulthood. “It was a brand that represented hustlers in my community,” he says. “It represented people that had a little bit more going on,” he says. “It was for the people that had money, and wanted other people to know they could afford it.”

“I’ve been trying to do this for a long time,” he says. “I’m very grateful, and very thankful.”

The accompanying campaign — which debuts here on HYPEBEAST — is intended as an intentional call-back to the cover art for T.R.U. Realigion, which showed Chainz in the restrooms of Atlanta’s Lenox Mall. For him, returning to the city to shoot the collection was a no-brainer. “It’s my home, and it’s where this whole thing came from,” he says. “It wouldn’t make sense to do it anywhere else.”

He remains zealous, to this day, in his pride for the city. Two decades on from Atlanta’s much-vaunted rise as the home of contemporary hip-hop — after it overtook New York in the late 90s, thanks to a wave of brilliantly genre-bending artists — Chainz believes the city’s musical crown is at no risk of slipping. “Hip hop has been driven by the city of Atlanta,” he says. “It’s the go-to for creative, for production, style, dress, walk, talk, slang, the whole game.”

He credits the city, too, with his collaborative and ever-evolving musical style, arguing that it’s a mentality engendered by Atlanta’s creative scene. “It’s the best thing about the city,” he says. “That will to do things together. We’ll put our own things aside, and know that if we work together, it’ll be better for the whole outcome. It’s what helps us merge young and old together.”

In that spirit, his next album, which is scheduled for release in early 2022, will act as a celebration of the young talent he has seen rising around him, and a way for him to help build the careers of a new generation of artists. Though he remains quiet, for now, on the roster that will be included, he believes it represents a cross-section of the musicians worth following now. “It’s the younger artists that I really respect, and I really f*ck with,” he says. “The ones who got it popping right now. Giving something very unique.”

That release will be followed closely by another project: ColleGrove 2, a follow-up to his 2016 album, which will see him reunite with his recurrent collaborator Lil’ Wayne. It will be, he promises, “out of the box”. After that, he’ll drop the third release planned for next year: an as-yet unnamed album which will be “more soulful,” in line with the direction he moved towards in his most recent release, last year’s So Help Me God!

It’s an extraordinary amount of work to come from a single artist in a twelve month period. But it’s consistent with the prodigious output of a musician who claims to record new tracks every single night. “Honestly, I should have put out more music,” he says. “I’m still thinking of giving the fans something else around Christmas. Keep your eyes and ears open.”

Chainz hopes that a sophomore collection with True Religion will follow, and that it will be the start of an ongoing relationship with the brand. That aside he’s interested in the idea of an alcohol collaboration, at some point in the future. Gardening, too, is a newly-acquired passion. “I care a lot about it,” he says. “I’m about to go check on my garden in a minute, in fact.”

So he’s not slowing down. If anything, Chainz seems driven by the desire to take on more: more projects, more genres, more collaborators. “People have to want to be around you,” he says. “Everything comes from there.”

“It’s a process. But I love every piece of it.”

The 2 Chainz True Religion collection goes on sale on November 17 at select True Religion stores and online. Customers can also join the brand’s waitlist from November 10 for 24 hour early access to the collection.

Read Full Article

What to Read Next

2 Chainz Announces New Album 'Dope Don't Sell Itself' Will Release This Month
Music

2 Chainz Announces New Album 'Dope Don't Sell Itself' Will Release This Month

And a single will drop this week.

2 Chainz Taps 42 Dugg for New Song and Video: "Million Dollars Worth of Game"
Music

2 Chainz Taps 42 Dugg for New Song and Video: "Million Dollars Worth of Game"

Off his upcoming album, ‘Dope Don’t Sell Itself.’

2 Chainz Drops Visual for New Track "Pop Music" Featuring Moneybagg Yo and BeatKing
Music

2 Chainz Drops Visual for New Track "Pop Music" Featuring Moneybagg Yo and BeatKing

The second single off his upcoming album ‘Dope Don’t Sell Itself.’


2 Chainz and T.I. Drop Bars on Ralo's New Track "Fall Apart"
Music

2 Chainz and T.I. Drop Bars on Ralo's New Track "Fall Apart"

Off his upcoming album, ‘Political Prisoner.’

Acne Studios Resurrects Acne Paper With "Age of Aquarius" Issue
Design

Acne Studios Resurrects Acne Paper With "Age of Aquarius" Issue

Issue 16 comes seven years after the publication’s last installment.

CELINE’s New London Store Captures Hedi Slimane’s Exacting Sense of Taste
Fashion

CELINE’s New London Store Captures Hedi Slimane’s Exacting Sense of Taste

Including a new series of art commissions, and furniture made by the designer himself.

MANHART Pumps 710 HP Out of the BMW M850i Cabriolet
Automotive

MANHART Pumps 710 HP Out of the BMW M850i Cabriolet

Drop the top and hear those quad carbon fiber pipes roar.

Find "Truth" and "Harmony" With The Elder Statesman's Cashmere Suicoke Zavo-Cab Sandals
Footwear

Find "Truth" and "Harmony" With The Elder Statesman's Cashmere Suicoke Zavo-Cab Sandals

Coming in a tie-dyed blue-and-white colorway or in black for $350 USD a pair.

Netflix Reveals Cast of 'One Piece' Live-Action Series
Entertainment

Netflix Reveals Cast of 'One Piece' Live-Action Series

Accompanied by a greeting message from the actors.


Late Checkout FW21 Evokes Serious Wes Anderson Vibes
Fashion

Late Checkout FW21 Evokes Serious Wes Anderson Vibes

“The Bellboy: Chapter II” is only the Spanish label’s second release.

Why Someone Paid More Than $100,000 USD For a Watch Box
Watches

Why Someone Paid More Than $100,000 USD For a Watch Box

And why that’s not entirely crazy.

Leica's Q2 Reporter Is Wrapped in Kevlar for Hardcore Photo Journalism
Tech

Leica's Q2 Reporter Is Wrapped in Kevlar for Hardcore Photo Journalism

Coming in color-taking or “MONOCHROM” iterations.

Marie-Antoinette's Diamond Bracelets Sell for $8.1 Million USD
Design

Marie-Antoinette's Diamond Bracelets Sell for $8.1 Million USD

Smuggled to Brussels after she was guillotined.

Foo Fighters to Star in Horror Comedy Film 'Studio 666'
Entertainment

Foo Fighters to Star in Horror Comedy Film 'Studio 666'

Following the band as they move into a haunted mansion to record ‘Medicine at Midnight.’

More ▾
 
Subscribe to our Newsletter

Gain access to exclusive interviews with industry creatives, think pieces, trend forecasts, guides and more.

By subscribing, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

Looks like you’re using an ad-blocker

We charge advertisers instead of our readers. Support us by whitelisting our site.

Whitelist Us

How to Whitelist Us

screenshot
  1. Click the AdBlock icon in the browser extension area in the upper right-hand corner.
  2. Under “Pause on this site” click “Always”.
  3. Refresh the page or click the button below to continue.
screenshot
  1. Click the AdBlock Plus icon in the browser extension area in the upper right-hand corner.
  2. Block ads on – This website” switch off the toggle to turn it from blue to gray.
  3. Refresh the page or click the button below to continue.
screenshot
  1. Click the AdBlocker Ultimate icon in the browser extension area in the upper right-hand corner.
  2. Switch off the toggle to turn it from “Enabled on this site” to “Disabled on this site”.
  3. Refresh the page or click the button below to continue.
screenshot
  1. Click the Ghostery icon in the browser extension area in the upper right-hand corner.
  2. Click on the “Ad-Blocking” button at the bottom. It will turn gray and the text above will go from “ON” to “OFF”.
  3. Refresh the page or click the button below to continue.
screenshot
  1. Click the UBlock Origin icon in the browser extension area in the upper right-hand corner.
  2. Click on the large blue power icon at the top.
  3. When it turns gray, click the refresh icon that has appeared next to it or click the button below to continue.
screenshot
  1. Click the icon of the ad-blocker extension installed on your browser.You’ll usually find this icon in the upper right-hand corner of your screen. You may have more than one ad-blocker installed.
  2. Follow the instructions for disabling the ad blocker on the site you’re viewing.You may have to select a menu option or click a button.
  3. Refresh the page or click the button below to continue.