Chamillionaire - Ultimate Victory

Posted September 16, 2007

I’m man enough to admit when I’m wrong. I thought I’d die before the Red Sox won a World...

Ultimate Victory Album Review

I’m man enough to admit when I’m wrong. I thought I’d die before the Red Sox won a World Series, was sure MySpace wouldn’t catch on, and thought Britney’s VMA performance would be a triumphant comeback. I was straight stupid wrong on all counts. So as long as we’re on the subject, I’d like to admit something to Chamillionaire. Cham, if you’re reading this, my bad. I heard Ridin Dirty and pegged you as a one hit wonder. When I reviewed Mixtape Messiah 3 I said you were an inconsistent MC. Congratulations, you’ve officially made me look like an idiot. I know you have our phone number here at DJBooth, give me a call and I’ll apologize in person.

I’m not the only one who criticized Chamillionaire. The razor-slim MC has heard it all: he’s too southern, not southern enough, wasn’t smart enough, had forgotten the streets. Well now Cham’s pissed, and he’s channeled all his anger into Ultimate Victory, an album that’s by turns deeply lyrical, intensely political and flat-out raw. Houston’s most beloved/hated son has constructed over an hour of rewind worthy hip-hop, all without a single curse word. Now that’s f**king impressive.

Chamillitary uses Ultimate Victory to grab the title of hip-hop’s most outspoken rapper, a position left vacant by Eminem. He doesn’t have Em’s shock value, but if there was a debate against Bill O’Reilly for the fate of the culture, Cham now deserves consideration as hip-hop's chosen representative. Backed by a stomping J.R. Rotem beat, Hip-Hop Police is an unflinchingly attack of the media’s apocalyptic portrayal of rappers. Cham showcases his narrative skills on the track, rhyming in both his voice and the cops he’s being interrogated by. Slick Rick, the undisputed champion of storytelling rhymes, even stops in for a feature. It’s sadly rare to find a major label artist willing to anger his corporate sponsors, Cham’s made it his lead single. Even more explosive is Evening News, the song that made me a full-on Chamillionare supporter. Within three verses he’s covered everything from the 9/11 attacks to Flava Flav, all with a deeply engaging flow. If Kanye’s a rebel for saying “George Bush doesn’t care about black people,” then Cham’s a revolutionary for rhyming, “9/11 was a calculation/and some would say it was a timed attack.” This isn’t preaching, this is hip-hop at its incendiary best.

It took years of hard work for Cham to rightfully claim the “millionaire” portion of his name, but it turns out being rich and famous isn’t all that great. Like Big said, mo money, mo problems, though I’m more familiar with less money, mo problems. The Bill Collecta is the hip-hop version of a financial advice book (here’s a tip for aspiring rappers, you have to pay back the advance). On the track Play-N-Skillz craft a synth heavy beat that slides over a grumbling bass line while Cham busts his addictive singing style. Krayzie Bone shows up to recreate Ridin Dirty’s hyper style and unimaginable chart success. The Bill Collecta won’t be as popular, but it’s required listening for everyone about their business. Industry Groupie somehow manages to turn the corniest song in music history (Europe’s Final Countdown) into a dope track, probably because of Cham’s flawless flow. The song weaves every popular hip-hop song about groupies, from Bump N’Grind to Smack That, into a powerful warning to stay away from paper chasing women. As he points out on I Think I Love You, money is like a relationship. When it’s good you never want it to end, and when it’s bad you end up punching your best friend in the face. Or is that just me?

For those more interested in waking up the neighbors than lyrical wordplay Ultimate Victory’s got you covered. Welcome to the South is a slowly unfolding banger featuring Pimp C that balances sharp drum rolls with gritty organs while Cham proves Houston’s about more than candy painted rhymes. Come Back to the Streets hits with a smoothed out Cool and Dre beat, though Cham sounds strangely like Luda on the vocals. Topping it off Weezy lays down his incomprehensible but dope rhyme style over hardcore guitars on Rock Star (is the fad over yet?). Are they classic songs? No, but they bust speakers. Mission accomplished. Besides, I swear I’ll never underestimate Chamillionaire again. If only I could learn some other lessons: remind me again, is it beer before liquor or liquor before beer?

DJBooth Rating - 4.5 Spins

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Posted September 16, 2007
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