2 Chainz photographed Sept. 15, 2016, at the Alternative Herbal Health Services dispensary in West Hollywood.    
2 Chainz photographed Sept. 15, 2016, at the Alternative Herbal Health Services dispensary in West Hollywood.    
Koury Angelo

2 Chainz Takes Us Into the Backroom of His Go-To Marijuana Dispensary

"Some people that smoke with me get lazy. But I’m a mature hustler, an executive boss. I’m rare,” says 2 Chainz. “I’ve always smoked while I’m working. This happens every night, whether the cameras are on or off. This is the lifestyle that people have to accept from me.”

Like plenty of rappers, 2 Chainz can easily call himself a “boss”: He has multiple clothing labels, a restaurant (Atlanta’s Escobar), even a new line of luxury beds. But he’s also one of rap’s best-known cannabis connoisseurs at a moment when marijuana is as mainstream as it has ever been, thanks to the increased decriminalization across the country — most notably in California, where Proposition 64 legalized recreational use in November 2016.

Back when Dr. Dre rapped with Snoop Dogg on The Chronic, rhyming about weed had an outlaw quality. Twenty-five years later, it’s far from taboo: A chart-topping song referencing pot (D.R.A.M.’s “Broccoli”) feels lighthearted, and Snoop is rap’s lovable stoner godfather with a line of heirs including Wiz Khalifa and 2 Chainz, who is as comfortable rapping about “smoking California weed with California hoes” (in “Feds Watching” from 2013’s B.O.A.T.S. II: Me Time) as he is seriously discussing legalization’s merits on national TV.

Today, the 39-year-old rapper born Tauheed Epps is perusing the array of THC candies, tinctures and “snake venom goji cream” in the backroom of the Alternative Herbal Health Services dispensary, his local in West Hollywood. Inhaling deeply from a joint (“It keeps the reefer honest and enables you to taste it”), the lanky, dreadlocked Atlantan exudes the serene stoicism of a guru.

“It calms my nerves, gives me stress relief,” says 2 Chainz, who’s working on a new album, Pretty Girls Like Trap Music (out April 7). He’s currently exploring getting into the cannabis business, and he has a medical prescription. (His ailment? “Between me and my doctor,” he says with a laugh.) He explains that smoking helps him organize his thoughts: “It’s easier for me to deal with the things I face as a rap artist.”

Ever since his early days performing as Tity Boi with Playaz Circle, 2 Chainz has dropped pot references in his music: His first hit, “Duffle Bag Boy” (with Playaz Circle in 2007), begins, “Weed and syrup til I die.” On the weekend of April 20 in 2015, he tried to smoke “the largest spliff” roughly the size of a paper-towel roll with Snoop and ASAP Rocky in Colorado. He has sampled 24-karat gold-covered joints and once tried a selection of ultra-prime weed and paraphernalia worth half a million dollars.

But back in early 2015, the rapper also made headlines for calmly debating 
Nancy Grace on legalization, advocating for individual responsibility (“Everybody has the ability to get their hands on weed now, whether it’s legal or not”) and referencing overcrowded prisons and taxpayer money wasted on policing. “People get locked up for a bag of weed; it affects their future,” says 2 Chainz today. “I’m sure [legalization] would affect city and state governments in positive ways.”

Taking a whiff as he walks by some plants, he reflects on his life-long habit. “I smoked with my mother, my father, my friends,” he says. “I’ve been doing it since I was 14. I got thrown out of high school for smoking weed. I sold weed. This isn’t something I do because it’s cool.”

This article originally appeared in the Jan. 28 issue of Billboard.

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