Over the course of the pandemic, there have been rumblings here and there of private, VIP Zoom sessions where certain celebrities and power brokers gather to hang out and keep in touch. It was over one of those meetings that the rapper 2 Chainz and the boxer Mike Tyson last spoke. There were people who “looked like us, and some who didn’t,” according to Chainz, the 43-year-old hip-hop superstar from Atlanta. The heavyweight champion, who is returning to the ring later this month in a bout against Roy Jones Jr., was doing what he does these days, preaching about higher powers and human beings maximizing their potential. His candor caught 2 Chainz’s attention, and since then, the rapper had been meaning to reach out to Tyson for more of that motivational wisdom. It finally happened last week, on the day 2 Chainz released his sixth album, So Help Me God! From his Rolls-Royce truck, Chainz reconnected with the 54-year-old boxer to talk about raising children, reaching your potential, and eating moose.
2 CHAINZ: Wassup family?
MIKE TYSON: How you doing, brother?
2 CHAINZ: I dropped the album today.
TYSON: Yeah, that’s what my wife was telling me.
2 CHAINZ: They’re saying that it’s the soundtrack for Mike Tyson’s return. I’ve talked to you a couple of times during this quarantine, and I have high admiration for your transparency and your self-awareness. I’ve found our conversations invigorating and I definitely was going to holler at you, man. I like how you come across.
TYSON: The only thing that stops us from reaching our highest potential is our fears. We’ve got to face our fears in order to face our highest potential.
2 CHAINZ: Man, you let it all out on the table and it seems like it’s release therapy for you. It creates this freedom for you. I’ve followed your career forever, but that little conversation we had over quarantine when you just was keeping it too real—there were a bunch of people on that Zoom that didn’t expect to hear that angle from you. Some of them looked like us and some of them didn’t, so I was just like, “Man, I really fuck with Mike for that. He came through.”
TYSON: Yo Chain, dig this, right? This is what I’m conscious of. I know that there’s the possibility that ten minutes from now, at any moment in my life, I could just stop breathing. Okay? I try to get everything that I want to get out on this earth before that ever happens, because it can happen any day. I’m afraid, but I try to the best of my ability not to be intimidated. You could be afraid of a person, but you can’t be intimidated. Intimidation prevents you from taking action and I’m never going to be in a situation where I’m not going to take action, because the only thing that can happen is I can die.
2 CHAINZ: You’re prepared for it?
TYSON: Well, I’m not prepared for dying. But I know that’s the process I have to go through to reach my highest potential. Tell me about your album, brother.
2 CHAINZ: I dropped my sixth studio album called So Help Me God! It has 15 songs on it.
TYSON: Who’s on it with you?
2 CHAINZ: I got a song with NBA YoungBoy.
TYSON: What’s the deal with this guy? He’s a little strange, but my daughter thinks he’s something special.
2 CHAINZ: He’s just young. I think he’s maybe 20 or 21, but he has three or four kids. He acts like he’s older than he is. That’s my perspective on him.
TYSON: You see people’s relationships with their families, and I remember how my relationship with my family was, and it wasn’t good. Now I have a home base. I have a rock, and some people need that. Maybe he’s a young guy, like you said, but he’s got to take responsibility for those babies, not just feeding them, but putting them on a right path. I don’t have the blueprint of how to raise the children, I just know what not to do.
2 CHAINZ: I think that’s all of us. It’s a learning process. I have three kids of my own, and I don’t care how old they get, we’re always learning. You know what I’m saying? Learning how not to rub them the wrong way, and how to be a confidant, someone they can come and talk to.
TYSON: How old are they, Chainz?
2 CHAINZ: Heaven is 12, that’s my oldest. Harmony is 8, and I have Halo, my only son, who’s 5 years old and reminds me a lot of my father who passed away. They complete me.
TYSON: That’s incredible. Congratulations. I’ve been married three times, so I have a 9-year-old and I have a 31-year-old. Out of seven kids, that’s the youngest and the oldest. But you know what’s interesting? Unlike myself, my kids went to school, went to colleges. They’re really academically advanced. I never went to school. I never learned how to read in school. I only went to school to eat breakfast and lunch, and then I left.
2 CHAINZ: You sacrificed so that they could get a higher education though, you dig?
TYSON: No, no, listen, it wasn’t that. Because my brother, he’s a surgeon, and before my sister died, she had great potential. But with the life we lived in Brooklyn, she passed away. My family has always been academic on my mother’s side, and on my father’s side they have always been musicians and athletes. Where are you from?
2 CHAINZ: I’m from here in the A. I’m an only child, and I had a great relationship with my parents, but they separated when I was very young.
TYSON: You’re the only child? Wowie, that must be the bomb for you, huh?
2 CHAINZ: My father, before he passed, was my best friend and a role model. He spent a lot of time in prison, but I never bashed him in an era where people would say, “Fuck my dad.” I never did that. I actually listened to him from prison. I built a great relationship with him. I was raised by a strong, single Black mother who didn’t work that much, who kind of dibbled and dabbled in drugs. I was forced to start dealing drugs in seventh grade. I got arrested for possession of cocaine when I was 15. I went to juvenile for a very short period, got out, and got locked up again in my senior year of high school for selling weed.
TYSON: Weed, huh?
2 CHAINZ: Yeah. I wanted to be a basketball player, but after going through things like that, I just knew I had it, I just had this feeling that I was going to be something. Like, I changed the climate of a room.
TYSON: I know you don’t want to say this, but you felt special. That’s what you mean.
2 CHAINZ: Yeah. I felt this way before I became special in everybody else’s eyes.
TYSON: I understand you very well.
2 CHAINZ: When people say, “I want to be a rapper,” they know if they’re wasting their time, they know if they’ve got the qualifications and the work ethic to take it to the next level, or if they’re just trying to manifest it by saying it out loud. For me, I didn’t know I would be a huge artist, but I had a feeling that I wasn’t going to be poor forever.
TYSON: You mean you weren’t going to be without money forever, because some people are filthy rich, but they’re still poor. Poor is psychological.
2 CHAINZ: Okay, yeah. I learned that from you, too. I’ve heard you say that a couple of times. The cover of my album is an eighth-grade picture of myself where I had on two chains, back when I was going to the flea market and buying gold. It has a strong correlation with the music, because I was a little impressionable when I was 13. I wasn’t quite the influencer that I am now. I was looking up to ninth graders, who were gangsters. They were selling dope and it was kind of infectious. I found the album cover during the quarantine and it’s the reason why I used it for this project as well. Enough about me: Are you doing any more of those one-man shows?
TYSON: Yes, once this epidemic stuff dies out.
2 CHAINZ: I went to a Dave Chappelle show last week in Atlanta, and he literally had the COVID van outside and he tested everybody before they went in.
TYSON: COVID is tricky. I took the test, they said I had COVID. I took the test the next day, they said I didn’t have COVID. So what do I believe?
2 CHAINZ: Yeah. I had it in June. I don’t know about you brother, but even when they said I was positive, I felt fine. I was smoking my gas, I was eating.
TYSON: Listen, I’m in the best shape of my life, and when they told me I had it, I felt so bad psychologically, like I was dying. I went the other day and took a test, and they said, “Nothing’s wrong with you.”
2 CHAINZ: Yeah, that’s a thing. I’ve had a couple of engagements where somebody that works for me had to get a test before we traveled. Motherfucker is doing fine, but finds out they’re positive, and that mind kicks in.
TYSON: Start losing weight.
2 CHAINZ: Start dying right then and there. But nah, man. It’s a blessing to be alive. It’s a blessing to have your right mind and it’s a blessing to still be able to learn something this far in life. I can honestly say that I still pick up on some things from you, O.G.
TYSON: Thank you. Tell me about your family. How long have you been married?
2 CHAINZ: I’ve been married two years.
TYSON: Congratulations. Is this your first marriage?
2 CHAINZ: Yeah. All my kids are from the same female. We’ve been rocking out and she’s for me. I’m happy with her. I wouldn’t want to disrespect her or embarrass her, so she’s the one for me. I definitely love my kids and I like what I’ve got going on. I go through the act of thinking about different circumstances and outcomes, and I can’t lie, I’m happy.
TYSON: That’s all that matters. We live our life in moments, and the moments turn into the past and the future is never-ending. It’s constantly going. The more we produce, the more god creates. The more music you produce, the more fighting I produce, the more entertainment I produce, god creates more and better.
2 CHAINZ: Absolutely.
TYSON: I used to look at this world like it’s just a big show. You know how we look at the ants and the insects and stuff and say, “Wow, look at all that activity going on down there.” I told my daughter: “Just like we’re looking at them, somebody is looking at us.”
2 CHAINZ: That’s a good way to look at it.
TYSON: You think we’re the only ones in this universe? Listen, if we’re the only ones, we should have the egos that we have. But I doubt it.
2 CHAINZ: In my mind, I feel like god has a TV and each one of us are his stations, so when he wants some crazy shit, he might turn to Mike Tyson’s station. If he wants some silly shit, he might turn to somewhere else. I feel like god has a sense of humor. I think that’s what I’m trying to say.
TYSON: Oh man, he has a big one! His sense of humor is for us to think that we’re really special. He laughs at us when we achieve our greatest achievements.
2 CHAINZ: Yo, let me ask you this one question though, for real. What’s up with this Roy Jones Jr. fight? Y’all going to do it or not?
TYSON: Yeah, we’re fighting in two weeks.
2 CHAINZ: Just in an empty gym? How y’all doing it?
TYSON: It appears it’s going to be an empty arena. It’s going to be the Staples Center.
2 CHAINZ: Damn, man. You know, I’m not a boxer but I know about boxing. The way that hip snapping and this little hook shit that you keep doing in these little highlight reels and shit? What are you trying to do, big homie?
TYSON: I’m trying to make a statement, brother. I have a platform. I’m trying to look out for the homeless and addicted people like myself. I’m trying to look out for people like me, people who grew up in abandoned buildings with mothers that are probably prostitutes and stuff. Those are the people I do this for.
2 CHAINZ: Well, man, keep inspiring brother. I would say I’ll be in the front row, but I’ll be in front of the TV.
TYSON: You’ll be there. We’ll be able to see people on the screen that’s watching.
2 CHAINZ: Okay, cool. Are you going towel with no socks still, or how are we doing?
TYSON: Hey man, it stays the same! Nothing changes but the year. I don’t care how old I am, I’m Versace till I die, baby!
2 CHAINZ: Pop it then, champ! Pop it!
TYSON: You can’t just go in there being a destroyer. You got to look good destroying shit.
2 CHAINZ: I second that all day, man. I wake up in designer shit with jewelry on. I think I slept in two chains last night, for real.
TYSON: Oh baby, you looking beautiful! The chains is blinding my ass out here. Don’t hurt me player, I got to fight!
2 CHAINZ: You don’t know this yet, but you my mentor, bro.
TYSON: I accept that. I just want everybody to know that the biggest risk gets the biggest reward. That’s why I take the biggest risks. I risk my own life.
2 CHAINZ: See? That’s some mentor shit. I’m signing up to fuck with you, man.
TYSON: You don’t even got to sign up, it’s ordained.
2 CHAINZ: Well shit, you ain’t got no training to do today? You off?
TYSON: I’m never off, brother.
2 CHAINZ: Okay, okay! What are you eating during this time?
TYSON: I eat bison, I eat goat, I eat elk, I eat moose.
2 CHAINZ: Man, that’s a different kind of protein.
TYSON: It’s all muscle.
2 CHAINZ: You said you eat elk and bison?
TYSON: And moose.
2 CHAINZ: You ate a moose?
TYSON: Yes. I want to try crocodile. Everybody tells me that crocodile is pretty interesting.
2 CHAINZ: I’ve had alligator bites.
TYSON: Tell me about that. How does it taste?
2 CHAINZ: If it’s fried, it’s like a little chicken bite, honestly. Because I’ve tricked my kids with it before.
TYSON: Like the ancients say, you are what you eat.
2 CHAINZ: Damn, well you’re a big old bison, man.
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