2 Chainz's Rap Career Is a Case Study in Irrational Self-Belief

If a bullet couldn’t stop 2 Chainz from meeting with one of the rap industry’s monarchs, what odds could?
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A gunshot wound isn't a bruise healed by Band-Aids and aspirin. Yet, the severity of having a miniature, burning missile puncture human flesh wasn't apparent in the story 2 Chainz told Elliott Wilson this past week during their TIDAL-sponsored CRWN interview.

In front of an intimate audience in his native Atlanta, the superstar rapper expanded upon the video message Diddy shared on Twitter following the recent release of his fifth studio album, Rap or Go to the Leaguedetailing how, many summers ago, a young rapper named Tity Boi kept a promise and attended a Puffy concert despite being shot the night prior. 

While the Bad Boy mogul only issued a CliffsNotes retelling of what happened that evening, 2 Chainz, in his conversation with Wilson, takes us back to the night he was shot in the ankle; how he was waiting for a room in the hospital hallway when he requested to be discharged rather than miss his flight to see Puffy. 

“I go to the trap to try and buy some weed for the flight and I get shot. Boom. I get shot in my ankle. 

"At this time, this is literally '03, this is at least fifteen years ago. I already had the flight booked, I get [to] the hospital, and they ask did I smoke, I say yes. They say I never should’ve did that, it will be hard to stop the bleeding. So they keep me in the hallway for three or four hours and I have this huge gallon of solution that is used as a cleaner to clean the wound.

"I’m cleaning the wound and I start realizing I have a flight in the morning. In my mind I’m not going in any room, I have to catch a flight to meet this nigga Puff." —2 Chainz

The injury wasn't life-threatening, but there were several variables to consider—severe bleeding, soft tissue damage, nerve damage—before denying medical assistance. 2 Chainz considered none of them.

With an ankle both bloody and swelling, the rapper born Tauheed Epps boarded a plane to see Puffy perform live—and then he followed him to the club afterward. 2 Chainz was risking his health with no guarantee he would be offered a record deal or even a loose but lucrative association with Bad Boy. 

Before the plaques were Platinum, the College Park-born athlete-turned-artist went to great lengths for the progression of his career.

"A nigga shot me in the ankle and I ain't kill 'em, ya lucky" —2 Chainz (CyHi The Prynce's "Trick Me")

2 Chainz later admitted to Wilson that he believes that bullet was a sign from God to finally exit the trap; to put faith in a rap career. If a bullet couldn’t stop 2 Chainz from meeting with one of the rap industry’s monarchs, what odds could? 

2 Chainz's career has manifested the way it has not solely because of his talent as an emcee but because of his irrational self-belief and a never-ending well of willpower. 

Success didn’t come quickly nor easily, though. Following the peak of Playaz Circle, the group he formed in 1997 with childhood friend Dolla Boy, 2 Chainz was ready to expand and explore his career as a solo act. Unfortunately, due to the structure of his recording contract with Disturbing The Peace, the label owned and headed by fellow Atlanta-bred artist Ludacris, he was forced to pony up $100,000 per album remaining on his deal to exit the label. 

"I had to find me a lawyer, and then I ended up getting out [of the deal]. I had to pay [Ludacris] $100k per album, and I think, some other little, like a point, which to me, I've made $100k so many times, it was a pretty good deal to get out of it." —2 Chainz (Everyday Struggle, 2017)

Without knowing what the future held for a solo recording career, 2 Chainz accepted the terms. He was willing to gamble on himself despite how much money the decision would cost him. If his first solo album ended up going triple plastic, he would still owe Ludacris more than the amount most rapper’s receive for an album budget. 

2 Chainz was unwilling to allow his destiny to rest in another man’s hands, but the path to becoming a giant in the music industry is a journey that often includes head-butting walls, unsure when a breakthrough will come. It’s less risky than dealing drugs, sure, and the odds are slightly better than becoming a professional athlete, but certainty isn’t gifted to the aspiring. 

The same resilience that took 2 Chainz from a hospital hallway to Diddy’s dressing room is self-evident in the way he has carried himself since. From recording a hit single with Lil Wayne to eventually becoming one of hip-hop’s most consistent and entertaining artists, 2 Chainz has willed himself to success as a recording artist and entrepreneur.  

In 2011, there was no buzz around the stage name Tity Boi. So he changed his moniker and flooded the market with electrifying mixtapes and guest verses as 2 Chainz, creating noise instead of accepting silence. 

It's been 16 years since Playaz Circle appeared on "Eyebrows Down," the outro of Ludacris’ 2003 album Chicken-n-Beer. Back then, as Tity Boi, 2 Chainz was still a drug dealer dabbling in music. On “Statute of Limitations,” one of the highlights on Rap or Go to the Leauge, he takes us back to his drug-dealing days, name-dropping his most famous clients. Needless to say, he's come a long way.

"McDaniel Street, I had a bag full of bombs (Bombs) / South Side nigga, I used to serve Lil Jon (Jon) / On Godby Road I shot dice with Troup (Troup) / Hit the D mall and then I served Big Unk (Unk) / Anytime 50 came to town I served Buck (Buck) / Anytime the Sixers played the Hawks I seen Chuck (Chuck) / Had a half a ticket 'fore I met with Def Jam / Ask Chris and 20 who was the X-Man / No Wolverine here" —2 Chainz ("Statute of Limitations")

The trap was an option for 2 Chainz—a dangerous but lucrative one—but to leave meant to always think beyond. Beyond selling drugs, beyond Playaz Circle, beyond Puffy, beyond Ludacris, beyond Atlanta.

2 Chainz never allowed anyone to determine who he could be, or how far he could go. He chose to be a rapper, and he chose to push forward until his career was tall as his 6′ 5″ frame. 2 Chainz became a rap giant, not because of any pair of shoulders he was able to stand upon or any investment made in his career coffer, but rather, an inexhaustible desire that drove him from the bottom to the top. 

He simply would not be denied. 

By Yoh, aka YohChainz, aka @Yoh31

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