Monday, September 04, 2006

Chamillionaire Review AKA Worst. Rap Name. Ever

The Sound of Revenge
Universal, 2005

For Fans of: 50 Cent, Paul Wall, all things Houston, Purple Drank.

First off, what the hell is up with that name? Does he have a million disguises? Does he have a Chamillion dollars? It's incredibly hard to take someone with such a lame-o name seriously, and I dismissed Chamillionaire until I read an interview with him on the uber-indie website Pitchfork. Chamillionaire purposely sought out Pitchfork precisely because they weren't the typical venue for his music. He knew that XXL and the Source would already be covering him. He wanted to try and recruit fans from different genres.

Chamillionaire is often praised as one of the best rappers to come out of Houston, mostly based on a series of mixtapes and underground CDs, including the classic "Get Ya Mind Correct" with ex-partner Paul Wall. However, while Cham's early material mostly concentrated on cars, rims, grills, chains, and getting one's lean on, Sound of Revenge sees him going in a more serious direction. While I definitely admire and respect this move towards maturity, it is not entirely successful.

Sound of Revenge offers up 15 tracks of melodic Texan hip-hop. Most of the production is handled by folks that I don't recognize (Beat Bullies, Sol Messiah, Cool-N-Dre). The only producer I had heard of was Scott Storch, who contributes a decent beat to the Lil' Flip assisted single "Turn It Up". In true Southern fashion, most of the beats are constructed around skittering drums and synth riffs. Although I much prefer the more analog boom-bap sound of old, Cham makes a convincing argument for the newer direction of rap.

Like 50 Cent, most of the songs have sung chorus, and Cham actually has a decent voice. Songs like "Ridin'", "Southern Takeover", and "Think I'm Crazy" actually have good melodies, and are some of the better songs on the album. For the most part, Chamillionaire's rhymes and flows are spot-on, although occasionally he would try and cram too many syllables into each line, and it sounded stupid (as on "Turn It Up".
The real problem with this album is the same thing that was wrong with "Get Rich or Die Tryin'": It's too fucking serious. For a rapper known for his sense of humor, Sound of Revenge is totally humorless, and the me-against-the-world vibe gets old. Also, while there are some great tracks, there are also a fair share of mediocre ones. The end result is a disc that demonstrates Chamillionaire's potential, but isn't quite there.

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