Chamillionaire: Winner’s Circle

It’s rare to find a rapper who doesn’t have a dance or talks about something other than chicks, cars, and money without suffering for it. Even Jay-Z, the arguable best rapper alive, has continually struggled to find that balance between substance and commercial success over the course of his career. With today’s Hip-Hop becoming more […]

It’s rare to find a rapper who doesn’t have a dance or talks about something other than chicks, cars, and money without suffering for it. Even Jay-Z, the arguable best rapper alive, has continually struggled to find that balance between substance and commercial success over the course of his career. With today’s Hip-Hop becoming more and more pop there are even fewer emcees who even want to try. That is, except for Houston’s own Chamillionaire. Since the platinum success of his debut album, The Sound of Revenge, and the four million ringtones sold of his lead single, “Ridin Dirty,” you’d think money would change the way the “Mixtape Messiah” looks at things. But in a time when Hip-Hop seems to fall for anything Chamillionaire still finds a way to stand for something and make hit records. From his first successful commercial single, the racial profiling themed “Ridin Dirty,” to his current single, “Hip-Hop Police” from his new album, Ultimate Victory, Chamillionaire continues to find new ways to sugar coat those bitter pills. Not because he feels he has to but because somebody needs to. With the industry being so focused on dance songs, what made you choose “Hip-Hop Police” as your first single?Chamillionaire: Well, music today is real trendy and real gimmicky. I wanted to do something different. The song is about what’s going on today with all the people trying to police Hip-Hop. It isn’t what everybody else is doing. That’s the same reason I wanted Slick Rick on the record. It’s telling a story but it’s a different type of storytelling song, and Slick Rick is one of the greatest storytellers in Hip-Hop. And everybody wasn’t using Slick Rick in songs so that was another plus. The video, like the song, is different from what’s out there right now. Where did the concept come from?Chamillionaire: We had a few different treatments for the video before we actually settled on what it is now. I’m a creative and forward thinking person so I wanted to do something that went with the song but was still very creative. Was it your idea to be involved as much as you were as far as playing all the characters?Chamillionaire: I new I was going to have to play some of the characters, kind of like Eddie Murphy, but I was only going to do it if it didn’t come out corny. If it came out corny I’d have cut those parts out. Like the newscaster wasn’t supposed to be a white guy. That’s just the way it happened. The album is called Ultimate Victory. What is the significance of the title? Chamillionaire: You really win when you can beat the odds and see success and still appreciate the little things. When you can win and still be appreciative and humble that’s the ultimate victory. So what can fans expect from the album? Chamillionaire: The album plays like a story. Every song blends into each other. I talk about everything that comes with victory and success. Being one of the few rappers in recent years to go platinum did you feel the pressure to live up to or surpass any expectations while making this album? Chamillionaire: It’s funny because as a rapper who sold like four million ringtones it’s expected that I come with that kind of record. The label and the fans are going to want that kind of song from me but I don’t do stuff like that intentionally. A lot of guys try to follow some kind of formula to come up with what they think will be that hit song. I don’t have any formulas. I just wanted to make a good album. And really, there are no formulas. Like “Ridin Dirty” was a song I did with Krazy Bone. We didn’t know it was going to be what it was when we did it. We just wanted to do a song together. Or like Rick Ross. “Hustlin” didn’t fit the formula for the songs that were out at that time but people just felt When it comes to the label and other artists, how have things changed for you after the success of your first album?Chamillionaire: It’s funny how fickle people are. People only want to mess with you when you’re on top but when you’re on the way up it’s different. People’s memories get funny. So even after proving you can move units, people still look at you as the underdog?  Chamillionaire: I love that feeling though. I love being the underdog. I love knowing there’s someone above me. It keeps me hungry and focused. I know there’s always someone above me and some young dude right behind me waiting for me to slip and take my You have your own label. What are some of the moves you’re making as an owner/executive?   Chamillionaire: I’m working on building Chamilitary Entertainment. Building Chamilitary bigger and bigger. I don’t want to be rapping forever. Some dudes can still be rapping in their 30’s and 40’s but not me. I’m trying to be more. I have two artists right now. One is a rapper named Fame who’s featured on my album and a R&B singer named Tony Henry. Tony’s going to be coming out on Chamilitary Soul. I won’t be on any of his songs. I’m trying to push him as pure, soul music. When you put a rapper on a R&B or Soul record it kind of cheapens the meaning. It dilutes it a little bit. So are you a big fan of R&B music?Chamillionaire: I listen to a little bit of everything. When I say a little, I mean a little. I listen to everything, but not that often. Sometimes I don’t listen to music at all. When you listen to music all the time your stuff starts to sound like everything else and I like to be as original as possible. Speaking of originality, you tend to get your point across without a lot of profanity. Some say it’s because you were once in a gospel rap group, is that true or is there more to it?Chamillionaire: I was never in a gospel rap group. That never happened. I think people get that idea from me not cursing a lot in my songs and me having a Muslim father and a Christian mother. They probably put the two together thinking I didn’t curse because I was super religious but I wasn’t. I was just like everybody else. I talked about rims, diamonds, and money same as everybody else. I was rapping about all these materialistic things which is actually why I changed my name from Chameleon to Chamillionaire. So do you agree with the notions that rappers need to take responsibility for what they say?Chamillionaire: I’m not one of those people who feel I have to act a certain way because I’m in the public eye. A lot of people aren’t meant to be role models. It’s not our job to raise someone’s child. I say the things I say and I say them in a certain way because of my own morals and personal beliefs not because I feel I have So you’re personally concerned about how your rhymes are reaching people?Chamillionaire: I’d really be bothered. Like it would stick in the back of my head and bother me for the rest of my life if I knew that something I was saying or doing was hurting David Banner recently spoke out on how our “Black Leaders” treat our generation, especially those of us in the public eye. What’s your opinion?Chamillionaire: The problem is all public figures like to point the blame. They like to say who’s fault it is but that doesn’t do anything to solve the problem. You can study leaves all day but if you want to know what’s wrong with a tree you have to look at the root. Like the N word. You can say it’s Hip-Hop’s fault but people will still be saying it. And It’s not only that. It’s a big generation gap. These figures, our black leaders were there for the marches and the riots. They know where the N word comes from and what it means. But we’re a different generation. People in the hood still say it and will keep saying it because we know it as something You seem to have a good mind for politics. If you didn’t make it in Hip-hop what would you be doing?Chamillionaire: Well, for me the most important thing in the world is to be happy. You see people waking up and going to jobs they hate because the money is good or whatever. But they’re miserable. Whatever I’d be doing I know I’d be doing something that made me happy. Nothing’s more important than that. If you have to take a job for less money but it’s something you love, do it! You’ll be better off in the longrun struggling for something you love to They say that money changes you but you’ve always been a real humble dude. Is it hard for you to stay so grounded? Chamillionaire: People act like I’m the rap nice guy or I’m this super nice dude that wants everybody to like him and that ain’t me. I’m a humble man because I appreciate the simple things. All the things that really matter. Like I just went bowling recently for the first time in my life. That meant a lot to me. Some dudes feel they need to go everywhere and do all these things, buy all this stuff when they get to a certain status. I’m more nonchanalant. I don’t need to show off what I have.