Music

Chamillionaire: Sound of Revenge, Screwed and Chopped

Mark Weisinger

Remixers offer an interpretation of Chamillionaire's Sound of Revenge that is too often its own worst enemy.


Chamillionaire

Sound of Revenge, Screwed and Chopped

Label: Island
US Release Date: 2006-02-07
UK Release Date: Available as import
iTunes affiliate
Amazon affiliate
Insound affiliate
Amazon
iTunes
"Revenge is a dish best served cold."

-- Sicilian proverb (often attributed to Shakespeare or Klingons)

Hip-hop has long held to the mantra of "keepin' it real", but from the first time a rapper took a shoe endorsement deal or promoted a particular brand of malt liquor, the integrity of certain members of the hip-hop community would periodically be called into question, most often by some of the other, more principled members of the community. This is no different than in any other genre. Rock & roll fanatics have often been quick to call "sellout", country music fans remind artists to "stick to their roots", soul and funk proponents stress "Don’t fake the funk". But as hip-hop, a relatively young medium, has joined the mainstream, it has particularly been quick to decry any artist who shows any notion of being insincere or affected (or at least it did until Puff Daddy climbed the charts and ushered in the Era of Bling and its guilt-free indulgences).

Still, few have had the tenacity to call into question the integrity of the entire genre itself. De La Soul has done it consistently, to best effect in the hilariously dead-on video send-up "Ego-Trippin' (Pt. 2)", where they parodied the at times already self-parodying typical hip-hop video, complete with subtitles informing the viewer that the cars and mansion in the video didn't belong to them, and that the models were hired as well. Unfortunately, the video didn't have as much impact as it could have because it was made by De La Soul, the perennial outsiders, holdovers from a Daisy Age that never materialized. Criticism of an entire community is rarely welcomed from those viewed as outsiders, and so De La Soul's cries fell upon mostly deaf ears.

But if a "real" rapper takes the industry to task, people get uncomfortable. "Is he talking about me?" (If you have to ask...) And Chamillionaire has done just that. In the second track of the Sound of Revenge album, "In the Trunk", he notes, "Universal sent me to bring some realness to the industry / Got here, then I realized that ain't nobody real but me". While he doesn't make too many specific accusations, later in the track he does drop the line, "I'll rip any gimmick rapper out from A to Z / 934-829 to the 2 if you still disagree," (anybody want to take bets that that's not a diss on Mike Jones?). You can imagine that folks like Mike Jones might be feeling a bit nervous right now, especially when the chamillitary man has, on the previous track, fired off rounds like, "Rap's been dead so long / So, stop denyin' what you feel / This is payback for the fact / That y'all ain't tryin' to keep it real". And while many artists would hedge their bets by placing this last observation in the middle of track seven, Chamillionaire puts it front and center, in the opening title track. A mission statement for an executive house cleaning.

To show that he's not too stone-faced to throw out a good quip, he does drop lines like, "You ain't too smart, but play the part like you a pantomime... / Time to make you do the Running Man like it's Hammer Time". But such moments are fleeting in an album that is often grim-faced, even when he bares his soul (with H-Town legend Scarface) on the chilling standout track "Rain", a song so powerfully soulful that it boosts perceptions of the album from solid to classic. Perhaps no one since 2Pac has kept it this real without sacrificing an ounce of credibility.

However, this is not the album Sound of Revenge, but rather Sound of Revenge, Screwed and Chopped. Herein lies the problem. While the aforementioned tracks manage to maintain (or possibly better) their studio counterparts, the remainder of the album is not nearly so consistent. For starters, after the momentum builds from the opening 1-2 punch of "Sound of Revenge" and "In the Trunk", the album offers two mixes of "Turn It Up", a song that, while tremendously successful as a single, on the album stands out as the radio-ready trifle that it is. While this would not be a problem with one well-edited mix, two mixes (one of which clocks in at over seven minutes) is too much for anything more than one of those "maxi-singles" (you know, the ones with the "Call Out Hook").

After this stumble, the album regains some momentum, but never does it reach the potential promised by the first two tracks. Part of the blame lies in the format of the "screwtape". While screwed and chopped versions of songs can make already laid-back syr'p-sippin' tracks even more appealingly lackadaisical, when the rhymes and beats are as blisteringly fierce as they are on this album, this type of mix can run the very real danger of diluting the power of the songs with too much laziness-inducing mood-setting or gimmicky editing, which is too often the case here. After all, the Sicilians were right about revenge; it's best served cold. Unfortunately, here the remixers take some of the coldest beats and rhymes of recent record and reheat them until they are lukewarm. In so doing, through often impressive panache, they occasionally rob the album of its most significant attribute: its realness.

5

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less
Film

Subverting the Romcom: Mercedes Grower on Creating 'Brakes'

Julian Barratt and Oliver Maltman (courtesy Bulldog Film Distribution)

Brakes plunges straight into the brutal and absurd endings of the relationships of nine couples before travelling back to discover the moments of those first sparks of love.

The improvised dark comedy Brakes (2017), a self-described "anti-romcom", is the debut feature of comedienne and writer, director and actress Mercedes Grower. Awarded production completion funding from the BFI Film Fund, Grower now finds herself looking to the future as she develops her second feature film, alongside working with Laura Michalchyshyn from Sundance TV and Wren Arthur from Olive productions on her sitcom, Sailor.

Keep reading... Show less

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less

Under the lens of cultural and historical context, as well as understanding the reflective nature of popular culture, it's hard not to read this film as a cautionary tale about the limitations of isolationism.

I recently spoke to a class full of students about Plato's "Allegory of the Cave". Actually, I mentioned Plato's "Allegory of the Cave" by prefacing that I understood the likelihood that no one had read it. Fortunately, two students had, which brought mild temporary relief. In an effort to close the gap of understanding (perhaps more a canyon or uncanny valley) I made the popular quick comparison between Plato's often cited work and the Wachowski siblings' cinema spectacle, The Matrix. What I didn't anticipate in that moment was complete and utter dissociation observable in collective wide-eyed stares. Example by comparison lost. Not a single student in a class of undergraduates had partaken of The Matrix in all its Dystopic future shock and CGI kung fu technobabble philosophy. My muted response in that moment: Whoa!

Keep reading... Show less
Books

'The Art of Confession' Ties Together Threads of Performance

Allen Ginsberg and Robert Lowell at St. Mark's Church in New York City, 23 February 1977

Scholar Christopher Grobe crafts a series of individually satisfying case studies, then shows the strong threads between confessional poetry, performance art, and reality television, with stops along the way.

Tracing a thread from Robert Lowell to reality TV seems like an ominous task, and it is one that Christopher Grobe tackles by laying out several intertwining threads. The history of an idea, like confession, is only linear when we want to create a sensible structure, the "one damn thing after the next" that is the standing critique of creating historical accounts. The organization Grobe employs helps sensemaking.

Keep reading... Show less
9
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image