2 Chainz: From Felon To Inauguration Honoree

By Rob Markman, with reporting by James Montgomery

When 2 Chainz shouts “I’m Different” on his latest B.O.A.T.S. single, the Atlanta spitter isn’t just spitting rap rhetoric, he truly stands out from the rest. Chainz, took his sketchy street past, mixed it with his newfound rap fame and used it to mobilize and educate voters during the 2012 presidential election and on Sunday night he was honored for his efforts.

“I’ve been a felon since I was 15 years old, and I found out you could reinstate your votership,” he told MTV News. “So … I wanted to use my platform [to] go notify [other] felons about what they can do to get their voices heard, and go out and talk about voter suppression.”

During Sunday’s Hip-Hop Inaugural Ball at the Harman Center for the Arts in Washington, D.C., a Russell Simmons-backed event, Chainz was honored with the Street Soldier Award for his work with “Respect My Vote” campaign. As a spokesman, the breakout rap star educated disenfranchised felons on their voting rights in certain states.

“I appreciate everybody for allowing me to come into their communities and say my one or two words,” he said. “Now we’re here and I’m getting honored for that, and that’s cool.”

With his acceptance speech 2 Chainz made it very clear that he isn’t just concerned with in-studio rap efforts. “It’s been an amazing ride for me having a #1 album, #1 hits and all that, but I’m excited about being honored for something I did outside of music,” 2 Chainz said. “I feel like us, as black men, we have a responsibility, to raise strong men, to nurture our daughters. … I’d like to thank [the Hip Hop Summit Action Network's] Russell Simmons and Dr. Ben Chavis, and I pledge to be an active member of the community as long as [they] have.”

Which other rappers do you believe have a strong socio-political voice? Let us know in the comments!