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Chingy

Hate It or Love It

(Disturbing Tha Peace; US: 18 Dec 2007; UK: 14 Jan 2008)

Remember that whole Kanye West/50 Cent feud last year? Remember how silly it was? The two rap moguls seemingly overshadowed the 6th anniversary of 9/11 with simultaneous album releases, inevitably leading to Kanye’s sales victory, a potential nail in the coffin of Fiddy’s career. Like 50 Cent before him, Chingy’s Hate It or Love It shared a release date with another massively anticipated rap album: Lupe Fiasco’s the Cool. Yet Chingy wisely avoided public humiliation by refraining from pointless public braggadocio. Could this be because, while Lupe sets a standard for innovation and positivity in a genre so often accused of the opposite, Chingy embodies everything negative about hip-hop’s modern reputation? It’s darkly fitting for both albums to appear on the same date: on the song “Dumb It Down”, Fiasco ridiculed negative hip-hop clichés, sarcastically exclaiming “Pour champagne on a bitch!” On “Roll on `Em”, Chingy repeats “Pour some candy on that bitch!” sans irony, and proceeds to encapsulate every distasteful stereotype imaginable. By naming his record Hate It or Love It, the St. Louis native ensures that all but the most loyal crunk devotees will invariably choose the former. And who can blame them?


Howard Bailey Jr. chose the stage name Chingy because it was slang for a rich person, his ultimate ambition; to further drive the message home, he named his debut album Jackpot. Sensing a theme here? The average listener associates Chingy with his 2003 breakout hit “Right Thurr”, a then-inescapable declaration of pop-rap blandness that he’s still attempting to follow up. The song’s most notable quality was its distinctly southern pronunciation of the word “there” as if it rhymed with “fur”. Chingy fans (yes, they exist—the people commenting on his YouTube videos with insight as eloquent as “diz iz mii song i b blastin diz in da car”) will be pleased to notice he still shuns the V in “everybody”, as well as the H in “with”.


So after resolving a rather laughable feud with Ludacris over album royalties, Chingy returns to Disturbing Tha Peace with Hate It or Love It, a predictable celebration of wealth, money, and… well, mediocrity, to be honest. Even for the shamelessly dull pop-rap album it is, Hate It or Love It is well below average: the beats are typically lifeless, and the downright goofy gangster posturing carries an expiration date of 2002. On tracks like the colorless “Check My Swag” (sample lyric: “That Rolls Royce seems to be them hoes’ choice / They love the luxury cuz it gets `em so moist / You can call me the king cuz I got so many toys”) or “Roll on `Em” (on the subject of cops: “They usually stop me just to say they want to drive my car”), Chingy’s boasts of wealth, cars, clothes, and women remain too hopelessly generic to even elicit the novelty reaction of last year’s already-stale souljaboytellem.com.


Amerie provides the overproduced hook on “Fly Like Me”, though one can’t help but wonder if it was chosen as the lead single solely because the chorus offers a respite from Chingy’s monotonous flow (if it can be called that). Then again, the song deserves praise for even having a hook at all—also produced by L. T. Moe, the same can’t be said for “2 Kool 2 Dance”. Chingy brags of his clubbing exploits like a wind-up toy of dreadful hip-hop clichés; the typically plastic production is cheap enough for a 12-year-old’s first Casio keyboard.


Nearly as awful, “Spend Some Time” presents a fair summary of Chingy’s material values: Chingy brags about how much he buys for “celebrity chicks who want diamonds and pearls”. And this is just in between Trey Songz’s utterly grating refrain: “Spend some money on ya / A little money on ya / Drop some money on ya / A little honey”.


On “How We Feel”, Chingy’s pulls a 180 of sorts by attempting social commentary on the condition of the inner-city ghettos. Of course, even if the song wasn’t peppered with such moronic remarks as “I don’t think we’re ready for a lady president / It’s evident that it’s a man’s world, so that’s irrelevant”, the song would still be inherently offensive in the context of the self-obsessed lyrical bubble of virtually every other song. And that’s not even mentioning the song’s holy grail of ridiculous Chingyisms: “The world’s messed up, and that Stevie Wonder can see”.


Ultimately, though, Chingy doesn’t care what you or I think about him—he said so himself. This message becomes crystal clear on the title track, a tapestry of infinitely repetitive orchestral loops over which Chingy lets loose his fiery manifesto. “I don’t give a fuck if you niggas don’t like me”, he declares with the fervor of a ranting preacher. “I don’t give a fuck if you bitches don’t like me! Eat a dick, nigga!” Honestly, it’s almost too trite to be offensive, but it’s sadly indicative of the album as a whole. Chingy’s descent into irrelevancy is only tainted by the fact that he was never relevant in the first place—he was just catchy. All he has now is money and a strange pronunciation of the word “everybody”.

Rating:

Zach Schonfeld is an associate editor for PopMatters and a reporter for Newsweek. Previously, he was an editorial fellow at The Atlantic Wire and graduated from Wesleyan University, birthplace of Das Racist, MGMT, and the nineteenth-century respiration calorimeter, where he served as the editor of Wesleying, a popular student-life blog. In his spare time, he enjoys visiting presidential birthplaces and teaching his dog to tweet. In addition to PopMatters, his writing has appeared online at Rolling Stone, TIME, Consequence of Sound, The Nation, USA Today College, The Columbia Journalism Review, The Rumpus, Paste Magazine, and the Hartford Courant. He can be reached at zschonfeld(at)gmail(dot)com or on Twitter @zzzzaaaacccchhh.


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