Will the real Chamillionaire, please stand up?
“Gotdamn, this shit is long.”
I wish I had a more positive response. Really, I do. Chamillionaire, the self-proclaimed “mixtape messiah”, “King Koopa” in real world reality, and the supposed “Real King of the South” finally drops his major label debut, The Sound of Revenge. And what does it do?
“Got Damn, this shit is long.”
Even before opening the CD case, the tip off should have been the bonus disc. Sixteen tracks made for a healthy album… but an additional EP’s worth of material? Was this necessary? Why dangle freebies to sell the better half behind both the Color Changin’ Click with Paul Wall and Get Ya Mind Correct, one of the highest-selling independent hip-hop releases? Surely he could hold his own.
“But, Got DAMN, this shit is long.”
The first notable difference between TSOR and Cham’s endless mixtape past is… TSOR isn’t a mixtape. And thank got for that. After all, major label release and wider distribution means a new market, a broader audience to reach out to, and subsequently higher production values. Let the ATLien Beat Bullies run wild in the studio and bless Chamillionaire with some certified speaker bangers, right? Please invite Scott Storch to blaze up a late-autumn anthem, a’ight?
“No, really. This damn shit is long.”
Cham channels Curtis’ monotone to ding dong the sing song of “The Sound of Revenge Intro”. “In the Trunk” bangs to the beat of Radio City kicks and Ju Ju A!s. Storch fondles Baoding balls on “Turn It Up”, while Lil’ Flip lurks in the back and tries to protect his chain. Mr. Millionaire catches a bad one while “Ridin’” with Krayzie Bone, but has no comeback a la Mr. Carter’s in “99 Problems” (speaking of Hov, is “No Snitchin’” a not-so-veiled snuggle with Dipset? After all, I’m curious as to who are the “real” cats in the industry that aren’t “on Jigga’s dick”)? And this is only the first third of the album.
“*Sigh* This Got Damn shit is long.”
In a seeming attempt to paint different strokes for club folks, Chamillionaire drapes himself in th-th-th-thug unit-wear on most of TSOR. The slow boom production of “Radio Interruption” and “Picture Perfect” may work for Curtis’ slurred drawl, but only muddle the precise pronunciation of Cham. Fortunately, he avoids the crack game talk, though he instead returns to rote recitations of ab fabulous living. “Peepin’ Me” charts charted territory of freaknik tales while Cham makes Babyface proud with the upended observation of “Grown and Sexy”: “Grown and sexy from your head down to your toes, you know you’re fine / You’ve got that perfect face, a perfect shape, and perfect smile / But as soon as you turned around / There’s something that I realized / You look better from behind.” Rewind!
“Please, this Got Damn shit is long.”
Cham’s lyrical gifts are not completely buried under the G-Unit production. He manages to get his reflection eternal on in “Void in My Life” and “Rain”. However, the trouble with these cuts is that they pale in color when compared to his punchlines. The man with golden numbers like, “Bulletproof vest on my chest, so I can’t get shot by Cupid / Man, man, I’m the Man,” stays consistent with new zingers like, “But you don’t have a 9 / I’ll show you a hammer of mine / The kind that’ll make you do the Running Man like it was Hammer time.” Hence, he sounds best when cutting loose with the exceptionally hyphey, like with Killer Mike and Pastor Troy on “Southern Takeover” and with Mannie Fresh and Lil’ Wayne on “Fly as the Sky”. Pairing over-the-top lines like Rasaq’s “If I pull down my fly, I could piss on the sky / Cause, nigga, I’m that high” with his own, “Trying to get below the belt and beat it like a boxing jab / Hit it then I quit like I dropped out of a boxing class,” these moments in TSOR continue to show promise for Cham.
“But, yo. This Got DAMN shit is long.”
Certainly, the hit-miss ratio of TSOR is hardly flattering. Two bangers, a couple thought-provokers, and twelve fillers hardly certify Cham as the name that will be running the game. That said the album’s lighter moments draw a clear line to his past appeal. Not to say Cham should be limited topically or stylistically. Rather, if timing is everything, then right now is probably not the best time to be sounding like 50. Do yourself and there will certainly be a new fanbase. And even if that is the shit that takes a long time, it just may be worth it.
We all know how critical it is to keep independent voices alive and strong on the Internet. Please consider a donation to support our work as independent cultural critics and historians. Your donation will help PopMatters stay viable through these changing and challenging times. Thanks everyone.