the-real-university

Everybody needs that crew love. Rappers like Kanye West, Rick Ross, Wiz Khalifa and Lil Wayne have proven to be indomitable forces on the solo front. But, in order to trounce their adversaries, they understood that they needed an army. In the past three years, 2 Chainz forged a lane for himself among the upper echelon of hip-hop artists with singles like "No Lie," "Birthday Song" and "I'm Different" showcasing his ability to make the club bounce. Then, he further solidified his place by segueing into the pop world and dropping verses for the likes of Jason Derulo, Justin Bieber and Robin Thicke. After leaving his prints on the music scene as a solo artist, 2 Chainz is now hoping to imbue success upon his brand new record label.

This past January, Chainz unveiled his label The Real University. For his new endeavor, he called on several familiar faces. Frequent collaborators Cap 1, Skooly and Short Dawg—now known as Fresh—signed on with high hopes of crushing of the music circuit. While the rap game boasts several high octane crews like Young Money, MMG and G.O.O.D. Music, 2 Chainz remains confident in his team's potential and ability to weather the storm. Their debut mixtape, T.R.U Jack City, serves as their first offering and will be instrumental in determining how far they can go.

XXL sat down with 2 Chainz, Cap 1, Skooly, and Fresh to talk about the origin of The Real University, the strengths of each member of the label, Chainz's leadership, their debut mixtape T.R.U. Jack City and whether his team can compete long-term with other rap crews. Class is in session at The Real University. —Carl Lamarre

2ChainzPressShot

2 Chainz

On Starting A Label
2 Chainz: I just think it's that time, man. You know, I've focused on myself primarily the first two years of my career, which started Feb. 20, 2012. I made a little segue and dropped a couple of albums. Now it's time to branch some more guys up. These guys have ambition, style points, skill-set, youth and charisma. You know, they have the whole thing. So, man, it's just about me being a part of the game, learning the game, taking a little bit here and there and coming up with my own little formula of what I think it takes to have longevity in the rap game.

On Competing With The MMG's, Young Money's And G.O.O.D. Music's Of The World
2 Chainz: Ahh, man. We up in there, man. The names you naming, man, we can compete with that. You know what we got, man? We got some creative artists that are their own individuals, that's riding their own waves and got their own little fan base. They have their own confidence. They have their own swag. That's what I like, man. We all stay 15 minutes from each other. We still manage to record and do what we need to do. It's just refreshing, man.

For longevity, you gotta have charisma. You gotta have youth. You gotta have some kind people with vision. You gotta have different components to make this shit last. That's why it was time for me to add some flavors around me to make it last. I know I was kicking some dope shit, but I still needed to surround myself with other niggas. It's just that crew time. It's time to let other people eat. There's enough money out here for everybody. If you got your own show, then hell, you don't gotta be worried about my show. When you get your own money, that’s what happens, man. We each got our own fan base, movements and brands. Each one of us got our own partners as artists like everybody else. But right now, we're just concentrating on the forefront of this right here.

On What Songs To Keep An Eye On From The New Mixtape
2 Chainz: I think all of them, man. For me, you might just catch me on the hook. I might just be doing a verse. Skooly might just be doing the hook. We kind of scattered and sprinkled ourselves through the tape. I'm not necessarily on every song. I know Skooly and Fresh have a song together that they just shot the video for. Cap got a solo song. So there's just a few songs that's meant to give people an idea of what we can do and the amount of fun we can have, but also showing signs that we still can have a bright future and really showing some signs of greatness.

We're gonna continue doing what we doing by adding on and just working hard. That's the stage that we're at now. We're in the process of just working hard right now. You know, we're humble. We don't think that we're better than nobody or nothing like that. But we gotta compete. That's what it is. We're here to compete and mess with the chicks and do what everybody got going on.

Cap1

Cap 1

On Joining The Real University
Cap 1: I've been riding with my bro since day one. That's my brother. I support him and he supports me. You know, we've been mobbing since day one. It's a pleasure to be a part of the squad with all of the great emcees like Skooly and Fresh. This is the big bro. We're just working, man. So when he said it was time to gas up, it was only right that I put on my seat belt.

On What 2 Chainz Will Bring To His Career
Cap 1: I feel like not only [bringing his resume] to the table, but I feel like he's showed us the work ethic. He's showed us the blueprint. People talk about it, but don't live it. Like, bro really lived the blueprint, which is studio over everything. Like he said, whether we made donuts, or whether we changed tires, in order to get that check, we would have to do it every day. So why not still apply that same work ethic to our grind and perfect our craft? He just really made me fine-tune my craft as an artist. Like, this is something I gotta do every day. Whether it be a verse, or a hook, I need to get in front of that mic at some point every day. So that alone was just enough to motivate me to keep gassing it within my own journey.

T.R.U. Jack City In One Word
Cap 1: Gumbo. I say that because it's like what big brother said, there's so many different flavors. Yet each one of us can stand on our own. You got the shrimp in the gumbo. You might like a little sausage. That's there. You might like that rice and that's there. But together, you got the gumbo. You got that plate. You got the pot luck.

2 Chainz's Take
2 Chainz: Cap 1 is just a straight up spitter. He's like really a fully automatic spitter. You know, one of his strengths and skill-sets that he has is actually being able to rap fast and show clarity at the same time. You know, a lot of people that started double timing and doing certain things like that—the southern artists—you might hear half the stuff, or half the verse. One thing about Cap—and I only feel like maybe two other people in the whole world can do, which is Twista and maybe Ludacris—that he does well is tell his storyline within a 16 bar margin. He puts so much information and it's so clear. That's what I appreciate about him. Now, he got the slow flow down pat. But, when it comes to pressing the speed button on niggas, the man exceeds all speed limits.

Basketball Player Comparison
2 Chainz: The point guard for OKC [Russell Westbrook]. He'll just go in and dunk on your bitch.

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Fresh

On Joining The Real University
Fresh: You know, there’s always been a mutual respect for me and Chainz. I've been watching his moves for years, even behind the scenes when we both was just on Def Jam tryna get it. So when he extended the invitation, it was only right to accept. There's so much respect and admiration for what he's done and how he does it.

On What 2 Chainz Will Bring To His Career
Fresh: I just appreciate the fact that he lived by the brand The Real University. You know, he's one of the people that I can say is genuine about everything from the introduction to the outro. I tell people all the time, he was the first person ever in life—artist-wise—that I've ever seen pass out a CD that wasn't his. I remember when we were on the road, and he was passing out mixtapes. He happened to have mine on deck and he reached in, and passed out mine as well. Just from that day, you can't expect that type of stuff from other artists. I know that I wouldn't even do that for nobody else. My appreciation for that been there since back then.

T.R.U. Jack City In One Word
Fresh: I'm gonna throw a little hyphen in there. It's like Wu-Tang, but we're TRU-Tang, you know? There's so many different niggas kicking so many different styles.

2 Chainz's Take
2 Chainz: Now, Fresh, he's just a metaphorical dude. He's a painter. I like him being able to say whatever is the first thing that comes to him. He's gonna go through his mental pipes and come up with that retarded shit. He'll make a nigga be like, "Ooh!" Then he might spaz in front of your face, but you won't even see it, 'cause it's right in front of your face. You know what I'm saying?

Basketball Player Comparison
2 Chainz: Tim Hardaway with the stupid ass crossover.

Skooly

Skooly

On Joining The Real University
Skooly: As for me, I'm the youngest out the crew. He's been a big mentor man in my life, other than my father. He guided me in the right direction. You know, I really don't let too many people tell me what to do anyway. But I really believe in Chainz and he really believes in me.

On What 2 Chainz Will Bring To His Career
Skooly: I just love his humbleness. A lot of stuff he doesn't have to do. You know, there's a lot of things he can say that he has done. There's a lot of things he can take away, but he doesn't. Like, it's to a point where he'll let everybody eat. You know, a lot of people have heard that before. But he's gonna make sure that everybody eats for real. For somebody that ain't ever had that, or for somebody that ain't been around nobody like that, it's a blessing. It's definitely appreciated on my end.

T.R.U. Jack City In One Word
Skooly: Actavis. We're in demand and we're hot on the streets.

2 Chainz's Take
2 Chainz: Then, my young nigga, whew! That nigga Skooly? He's really like the sensei of the young movement. All these niggas are really going to his karate class, you know what I'm saying? He'll teach a nigga how to kick. He'll teach a nigga how to chop. Nah, for real. [Laughs] He'll teach you how to break the wood with his head. You know, I don't think any other artists can do that. He's singing and he's muthafuckin' rapping. But, nah, he does both of them very well. So, when we all get fired up, I'm just in the middle. Sometimes I think I can rap fast. Sometimes I think I have some metaphors, and I might show a nigga how to kick it a little bit too. But, when we all get together, it's a stupid ass little gumbo. It's a delicacy. It's best served anytime. For real.

Basketball Player Comparison
2 Chainz: Stephen Curry with the shot.

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