2 Chainz is as charismatic as they come. Formerly known as Tity Boi, the rapper rose to prominence as one-half of Playaz Circle, with the Lil Wayne-assisted hit single "Duffle Bag Boy." After a major string of achievements, however, the 6-foot-5-inch Deuce walked away from his lucrative deal with Disturbing tha Peace in 2010, to go solo, and -- adopting a more family-friendly moniker -- took off like a rocket ship.
His series of mixtapes made some serious noise but T.R.U. REALligion pushed him further with tracks like "Spend It" and "Riot." Then there was his 2012 solo album, Based on a T.R.U. Story, with bangers "No Lie" featuring Drake, "Birthday Song" with Kanye West and "I'm Different." Then there was the follow-up B.O.A.T.S. II: Me Time with "Feds Watching" and more feature appearances than anyone can count on two hands. Add in his recent collaborative LP, ColleGrove, with Lil Wayne and it's apparent the guy has the music game on lock.
However, it's the moves he made from out behind the mic that has both made his bank account fatter and solidified his cult status -- not unlike fellow rapper Snoop Dogg. In fact, his numerous strategic investments and charity work within his hometown of Atlanta have earned him praise from across the board from Fortune to his fans. Meanwhile, his appearances on TV have made him a meme and Vine sensation, further adding water to his enormous wave. Here at XXL, we've pulled together a list of his 10 best business moves, outside of his music. So join us on a stroll through the Hair Weave Killer’s diverse portfolio.
Dabbin' Santa Sweaters
2 Chainz has proven that -- beyond a shadow of a doubt -- he has both ungodly foresight and two feet planted firmly in the center of popular culture. This past holiday season, he successfully merged two monumentally popular trends: the dab dance craze and ugly Christmas sweaters. He launched a line of Dabbin' Santa sweaters, which were quickly followed up with a music video and IOS/Android game, on his 2 Chainz Shop; needless to say, they were a hit. 2 Chainz raked in just over $2 million in revenue, of which, a generous amount was reinvested into his TRU Foundation. A portion of the funds were used to pay for a year’s rent and new furniture for Deirdre Palmetto, a disabled veteran and single mother from Palmetto, Georgia. As well, his foundation donated a minivan to an Atlanta family who lost everything in a house fire -- amongst other acts of kindness in and around the Atlanta area. That's what we call holiday spirit.
2 Chainz Shop
Pro-tip: for any artist, merchandising is a huge -- no-brainer -- money-making enterprise. Particularly in the face of today's increasingly standard 360 recording deal model. 2 Chainz, a master of tireless and unique, self-promotion, knows this better than anyone, as demonstrated with the 2 Chainz Shop website. There, his fans can purchase a multitude of branded gear and accessories. Current offerings include #MAKINBANDS and Based on a TRU Story camo t-shirts, ColleGrove t-shirts and hats (coupled with digital downloads of the album), and the cutest (and dopest) baby onesies you've ever seen. As well, there are sweatshirts and trap suits, if that's your thing. There are no publicly accessible sales figures for his online shop, but it should be noted that it was home base for his Dabbin' Santa gear, so it's easy to imagine it being incredibly lucrative as it grossed over $2 million last Christmas alone.
Throughout the timeline of hip-hop, there have been numerous artists with signature clothing lines. From E-40's BOFF, Nelly's Vokal and Apple Bottoms, to more culturally defining brands such as Jay Z's Rocawear. A clothing line -- that's lucrative -- is no overnight success; but, that's 2 Chainz's whole deal. As he describes it, his overnight success took 10 years. His signature leisurewear brand, CEO Millionaire, which launched earlier this year, is cleverly building itself into less of a traditional label and more of a movement of like-minded hustlers. A moniker for creating every opportunity, the brand has a strong social presence, sharing daily motivation pieces centered about putting in work and building success. They even answer direct messages from followers, whom they call teammates, about any and everything centered around starting business/brand. For the added sprinkle of engagement, if you tag yourself wearing the "team" gear, their official roster IG account, @teamceomilly, will repost your picture. Check it out.
Atlanta Hawks CEO
Last year, the Atlanta Hawks teamed up with 2 Chainz in the promotion of his TRU University record label. The rapper was slated to have a major presence at the Hawks vs. Heat game -- performing three times. To make the most of the partnership, though, CEO Steve Koonin handed "control of the team" over to 2 Chainz in a series of time released promo videos leading up to the game. Understandably, without full context, it led headline skimmers to speculate whether the super-baller had truly become the team's head honcho.
“We could not be more excited to partner with 2 Chainz, an Atlanta-bred superstar who has been one of the team’s biggest supporters and always remained true to Atlanta,” Koonin said in a statement. “Working with Chainz is a perfect fit for our organization as we continue to attract an increasingly diverse, millennial fan base that values great entertainment both on and off the court.”
The question remained whether the stunt was foreshadowing. Perhaps, as 2 Chainz, in conversation with TMZ Sports late December, noted he was "definitely interested" in purchasing a percentage of the team.
GQ Most Expensive Shit Ever Series
If there's one thing that we've come to expect from 2 Chainz, it's opulence. His songs depict a certain level of balling that us regular folk simply aren't accustomed to. His tastes, coupled with his cult status and obvious appeal in front of the camera, led GQ to enlist the rapper for their web series, Most Expensive Shit Ever. The show follows the rapper as he tries out all the fanciest food, gadgets and cars money can buy. Now in its second season, the show affords him the luxury of doing things like trying on $48,000 sunglasses with producer Diplo, drinking the world's most expensive bottle of water, and contemplating the purchase of a $22,000 chair. However, that all seems trivial once he checks out a $4,000 toothbrush, eats a $295 hamburger, and sits in a $2 million dollar car. The second season tagline says it all: "I'm 2 Chainz, and I'm flamboyant -- I like the fancy things, and I'm always craving for something more."
2 Chainz has shown on multiple occasions how devoted he is to helping communities/families in need in his hometown of Atlanta. With this charitable spirit as a catalyst, he founded The TRU (To Reassure U) Foundation -- a nonprofit that aims to help families living in the Southside of Atlanta and its surrounding areas. To date, the foundation has done some amazing things. From donating a five bedroom, three bathroom, home to a family of 11, aiding a disabled veteran by purchasing new furniture and paying her rent for a year, and hosting the TRU 2 Hoops Holiday Basketball Classic at North Clayton High School in College Park, he wears his philanthropic spirit on his sleeve. "It's important to give back when you've got it," said 2 Chains on Instagram, "This is just as emotional for the people helping as it is for those we are helping."
TRU University Label
No matter how you slice it, being an artist on a recording label always leaves you as a worker -- to a degree. Although you may have virtually unlimited autonomy, you'll likely be bound to final marketing decisions, as well as a split of the profits. It's this seemingly restrictive environment, and the desire to leave a larger imprint on the game, that's led many artists to pursue their own label situations, such as Rocafella, Young Money, MMG and even Disturbing The Peace, where 2 Chainz got his start. These labels operate independently, using majors only for distribution services. As of Jan. 6, 2015, 2 Chainz joined the label-CEO club, founding The Real University (also known as T.R.U. or The Real U). His current roster includes frequent collaborators Cap.1 and Skooly, and former Young Money artist Short Dawg, now known as Fresh.
Escobar Lounge Tapas Bar in Atlanta
It's a well-known fact that opening a bar, restaurant, or club, is a good look. Jay-Z has been wildly successful with his 40/40 sports bar locations, Rick Ross is making a killing with Wing Stop, and Pharrell owns a string of Fatburger locations in China. Even the LOX own a healthy juice bar in NYC. 2 Chainz decided to join the ranks, partnering with Mychel "Snoop" Dillard, owner of the Atlanta-based Hookah Hideaway, to open Escobar Lounge in Castleberry Hill. "We want [Escobar Lounge] to be one of the top spots for the upscale -- celebrity -- crowd in the city," spokesperson Giselle Warren told What Now Atlanta during a telephone conversation. "2 Chainz has been looking to get into the restaurant industry for a while now, and this is an opportunity to do something unique." It appears the restaurant/lounge is not yet open, but you can follow its progress.
Adidas Shoe Collaboration
In today’s market, sneakers are a good look -- period. Nike alone grossed over $30 billion dollars in sales last year, and they are just one player in a sea of brands making their way to the feet of sneaker heads worldwide. To stay competitive, many brands are teaming up with rappers to make funky signature sneakers and gear. Adidas, in particular, has been doing some incredibly cool collaborations over the past year, including Pusha T’s fish scale covered EQT and Asap Ferg’s Trap Lord sneakers, featuring custom artwork by Ferg himself. Last year, just in time for All-Star Weekend, and in commemoration his 2 Good to be T.R.U. Tour, Adidas dropped a collaborative sneaker with 2 Chainz: the Top Ten Hi. It featured a black base, fancy gold details, and snakeskin texture. Not surprising, they sold out quick. They can currently be found in online auctions for around $230.
TV and Film Appearances
His rich taste and oddly approachable street appeal have made for some pretty amazing television moments over the past 365 days. Like, his poised debate with (often volatile) Nancy Grace on the legalization of marijuana in the U.S., or talking sports and promoting his album alongside Lil’ Wayne on ESPN’s talk show Highly Questionable. Not to mention, his new segment on The Nightly Show With Larry Wilmore called "2 Chainz Explainz.” He’s found a way to make himself a recognizable figure, even if you don't know his music. He’s also bolstering his IMDB, and pockets, appearing in the Netflix documentary The Art of Organized Noize, chronicling the career of Organized Noize, and popping up on (numerous) shows from Ellen, and 2 Broke Girls, to Saturday Night Live. In short, he’s everywhere.