|Next Project:||The Ultimate Victory (Sept '07)|
|Twitter:||Chamillionaire on Twitter|
With current industry trends pointing towards the rapid decline of album sales and a steady incline in ring tones and digital downloads, it is nearly impossible for a label to green light a project for release that aims to be somewhat politically driven and doesn’t feature but one swear word. Politics in Hip-Hop are usually found in the backpacking underground scene (where no real money is made) and only Will Smith previously took an oath not to swear in his music (check record sales on his last album Lost & Found). So where does that leave us? With Houston’s Chamillionaire and his upcoming sophomore album, “Ultimate Victory,” which features clean radio-friendly lyrics and conscientious material. During an interview with DJBooth.net’ DJ “Z,” Chamillionaire explains why he decided to go clean on the new album, how he expects the industry to react toward his stance on foul language and why he flipped the script in his video for “Hip-Hop Police.”
Listen to the Interview
Chamillionaire Interview Transcription
DJ Booth: What’s goin’ on ya’ll? It’s your boy “Z,” doin’ it real big, and joining me inside the DJ Booth is a man who is preparing for the Ultimate Victory. Set to drop his sophomore set on September the 18th, please welcome Chamillionare. How you doin’?
Chamillionare: Cha-military man! Feelin’ good, man. Feelin’ good.
DJ Booth: Still the mix tape messiah, doin’ it real big. You’ve got to be excited about this new album…
Chamillionare: Oh yeah, yeah, man. I’m excited to just even have a second chance. Some people don’t even get that, you know, and I’m back at it, got a huge push ahead of me, and a lot of exciting material, man, just ready to get out here, and just goin’ around like I did last time.
DJ Booth: Certainly. After winning a Grammy and an MTV VMA, sellin’ more than a million copies of, “The Sound of Revenge,” and an additional four million plus ring tones, did you surpass your own expectations going into your debut offering?
Chamillionare: Yeah, definitely, man. ‘Cause I didn’t even really set no real serious expectations. I just went out there knowing that I was gonna push it as hard as I could, so when you finally look back at it and see everything that you’ve accomplished, you’re like, “Wow!” You know, like a Grammy and all these VMAs, BET awards, and 1.5 [million records] sold, four million ring tones, 5.5 [million] digital sales worldwide – it’s like, “Wow,” you know, it’s crazy.
DJ Booth: Definitely. You just released for free download the third addition of your Mixtape Messiah Street Album series. Were there any album verses that you decided to throw on the mix tape or, vice versa, material that was intended for the mix tape that you decided was just too good and you had to keep it for the album?
Chamillionare: You know what? My whole career, I’ve never really done that, man. Some people kinda keep raps. They might do a rap for somebody and they think it’s too good, and they save it for a song. I think that’s a part of my success, especially in the mix tape world, is I’ve always just given up my high-caliber lyrics when it comes to that and I waste a lot of stuff that people would be like, “Man, you should have made that a song.” But that’s what makes people interested in your mix tapes so much, and that’s what makes people interested in you, so they’re not really a waste to me. Naw, whatever comes out I just put it there; I don’t really think about it. When it’s time to do an album, I just do whatever comes naturally, you know?
DJ Booth: I had scripted out a question about 50 Cent’s comment regarding your status as an artist who does big numbers, then I listened to the first track off of Mix Tape Messiah Part 3, where you state that his comments don’t bother you and reporters “shouldn’t go there.” But then the next cut on the mix tape is a freestyle over his beat, “I Get Money.” Please explain…
Chamillionare: Ah, you’re very perceptive, man. [laughter] Naw man – you know, to me it’s not really a big issue. I really don’t mind you asking me about it, but people are making it out like it’s a real real big issue like – you know when it’s a real beef or something like that. 50 Cent just made some comments; he was frustrated a little bit. Somebody said my name in an interview, and then they kept saying my name to him and then he was just like, “You know, tell Chamillionare to go sell gospel records,” or whatever. I know the character of 50 Cent, he’s the type of person that will give you a very raw answer, you know what I mean? It’s kinda like, you put Kanye West on TV he might just keep it all the way real and do something unexpected. You gotta know the nature of the person, so that’s why I’m not really trippin’ off of that. And the fact it that he sold so many more records and he has a braggin’ right, you know what I mean? He sold 20 million plus records, and, I sold 1.5 [million] which is good, but just compared to what he’s done, I can’t even sit here and go back to something like that.
DJ Booth: No, understandable. A lot of people think that 50 Cent decides to start fake beef with artists before his album drops as a marketing tool, and I know that you have come out and told everybody that your new album is going be explicit content-less. Is that how you really feel the industry should go, or is that also a marketing tool?
Chamillionare: No, I definitely don’t – I’m not wanting people to feel like the industry should be that way. I probably wouldn’t even be in hip hop if it was all clean like that. Like someone who grew up in hip hop, you know, from the Dr. Dre “Chronic,” and all this stuff that I used to be into was kinda raw material, and it was the rebelliousness and the element of danger and the hip hop thing that made me love it. I definitely am not like that, but I just do me man, you know? I never really been a person that curses a lot anyways. You know, I got brothers and sisters, and I never been that person – it wasn’t the type of language that I could use to my mom or to my parents. I never really been a cursing type of person, but I did say the n-word a lot and this time I just decided not to do it. Going to shows and seeing a lot of white kids, who really purchase all the music, they’re the one’s like lip-syncing to what I’m rapping. I wasn’t really feeling that, so I just tried to, this time, switch it up.
DJ Booth: It’s gonna help you sell a lot more records. Good move. I’ve read that you consider the new album to be conceptual, and that you truly pushed your creative boundaries. Who, what, or where did you look to for such inspiration?
Chamillionare: Um, really it’s just the nature of the industry now, you know? Just lookin’ at TV and just watchin’ all these songs come on– everybody’s kind of doin’ the same thing, you know, bein’ in the club, and VIP, and I was just like, “Man, I gotta find a different lane.” So that was why I was thinkin’ of how I could do this album and the meaning, and – you know I just don’t do stuff for no reason. I’m not gonna call the album something just because. I don’t call myself Chamillionare just because – there’s a meaning with everything. But the album I wanted to be like a motion picture with skits and everything, and to me the challenge of pullin’ that off makes me interested in the project. It’s kinda like – an easy project, if you’re doin’ it, if it’s just real easy, you just kinda breeze through it, but if it’s something that kinda takes a little bit more work, then you’re more detailed with what you’re doing, and that’s how I treated this album.
DJ Booth: I’ve already gotten the chance to see the videos: “Hip Hop Police,” and, “Evening News,” and they have you playing multiple roles as both an officer and an in-studio television reporter, in addition to yourself. Did you call up Eddie Murphy before you started shooting?
Chamillionare: Naw, you know, it was crazy, because, when I rapped the whole songs I kinda had the imagery in my head; I was just rappin’ as other people. So then I was thinkin’ about it, even [unintelligible] a single, thinkin like, “Man, how am I gonna do this video?” I could have somebody else rap it, but the best way to pull it off is for me to do it. The only part that is different in my head is I never really considered the newscaster to be a white guy. And then when it was time to do the video, I was talkin’ to director Marc Klasfield, and he was like, “Man, that’s what’s gonna make it big, man, you just gotta be a white guy when you do this.” And I was like, “Naw,” ‘cause I didn’t want to make it cheesy. I didn’t want to make it corny, and I was talkin’ about real stuff, and I wanted to send a message, and not to go too far over their heads, and then I thought about it for a while and then I just did it. I’m glad I did it; it came out real good.
DJ Booth: How do you think the makeup artists and stylists did, because you had a nicer head of hair than most CNN reporters…
Chamillionare: Naw, they did real good! I was surprised! Like even when I came out and I just looked at myself in the mirror, I was like, “Wow!” It’s just so weird; you know what I’m sayin’? But then I was walkin’ around, and some people – they knew something was goin’ on, but they didn’t really who was in the mask, or if somebody was playin’ around. It was real dope, but it took me like four hours to get in that costume and I had to keep comin’ out of it too.
DJ Booth: It’s probably gonna be worth it, ‘cause that right there is probably going to win you another VMA, so cross those fingers.
Chamillionare: Man, that’d be a blessing if that happens, man.
DJ Booth: With so much to look forward to and so much success behind you, do you ever wake up in the morning and ask yourself, “Why me?”
Chamillionare: I don’t, man, I really don’t question it. Everything happens for a reason, but I ain’t gonna lie, it’s just like, “Wow, I must be doin’ something right,” you know what I’m sayin’? For all this stuff to be happening, that’s kinda how I be feeling. I kinda just think of my whole little thing I’ve been doin’, ‘cause the way I’ve been doin’ it has kinda worked out. I just trust my gut, man. That works, you know?
DJ Booth: Yeah. If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.
Chamillionare: Exactly, exactly!
DJ Booth: Due to the glitz and glamour of TV and Internet coverage, the lives of most rap artists appear to be nothing but a breeze. So on a scale of 1 to 10, over the course of the last few months you’ve been wrapping up the album, you released a mix tape, you’re doing promotions for the new album. How stressful is an average day for you? Is it anything like what people see in the media?
Chamillionare: Aw man, it’s very, man. It’s like an 8 man, to me, out of 10. I can’t say 9 out of 10 because there’s people that probably got real real problems in life, crazy stuff where their houses are gone, like imagine somebody that went through Katrina. My problems ain’t nothing compared to theirs, you know what I mean? But at the same time, yeah, it can be real stressful, because if you’re doin’ so much every day – especially if you want to be successful, you gotta work so hard and push yourself to the limit – you know, sometimes you don’t even eat. Sometimes I eat like one time a day. Or even by the end of the day I realize I haven’t even eaten yet. I’m just doin’ so much. It’s a little time for a lot of stuff that you really want to do, and its a little time for the stuff that you have to do. So it’s still kind of crazy.
DJ Booth: No, I understand completely, but don’t let me hear again that you’re not eating. I saw you on the video – you’re lookin’ a little slim. You need to put some more weight on, so don’t skip those meals!
Chamillionare: Hey, my mom said the same thing! But I can’t help it, man. It’s the price of fame. I’m gonna try to go eat, I’ll get a million people come and ask me for an autograph. The food’s good, but I don’t get to eat it!
DJ Booth: Chamillionare, the album drops September 18th, when all is said and done, what has to happen for this to be the ultimate victory?
Chamillionare: Man, it’s already the ultimate victory. It’s already a success. The album is really just about appreciating what’s important in life. It ain’t about the accolades, gettin’ revenge, or none of that. It’s just about loving life, man. You know, its people that have millions of dollars, and do all this stuff, and they just miserable, man. I just refuse to be one of those people. I live life how I want to live it.
DJ Booth: Definitely. I couldn’t agree more. Go ahead, give everybody your website and Myspace address, so that my readers and your fans can find out more about the, “Ultimate Victory.”
Chamillionare: You can check out chamillionare.com and especially myspace.com/chamillionare, you know there’s a lot of information up there. I do weekly blogs and stuff, and I’m real active on that so a lot of people hit me on there. Also, we put the videos up there, so anybody that hasn’t checked out the videos can check it out, and it’s definitely a conversation piece, you’ll probably love it.
DJ Booth: I wish you nothing but the best of luck on this brand new album you have droppin’, and continued success in the industry. You’re doin’ something different, being both political and promotional, and I love it.
Chamillionare: Man, thanks a lot. Good interview!