As I strive to move away from one-three hit wonders and more towards actual post-fame super stars I can’t help but harken back to the days when regionality mattered in hip hop and wearing your hat completely sideways was actually said “I’m cool” and not “I’m mocking cool.” In 2002, as superstar Nelly performed his "Burned in the Spotlight" tour, a young St. Louis upstart started catching the attention of fans opening for Nelly and the St. Lunatics: Chingy.
Chingy actual got his biggest push as a young rapper from being selected for the tour and ended up catching the attention of Ludacris back before all he cared about was when the 12th "Fast and Furious" movie was coming out as well as his manager and Disturbing Tha Peace Records co-founder and manager Chaka Zulu. Within a few months Chingy was added the an already strong roster that included I-20, Shawnna, Tity Boi aka 2Chainz and of course the already 8x platinum by then Ludacris. His new single “Right Thurr” caused an industry firestorm with it’s catchy hook and Chingy’s bouncy cadence on the dance track; his biggest accomplishment from releasing the #2 Billboard single was that it was eventually featured in the movie "Agent Cody Banks 2: Escape from London" (not a direct paraphrase from Chingy but I can only imagine it has to be).
Accompanying “Right Thurr” was “Holidae Inn” which proved to be a huge with assists from Snoop Dogg and Ludacris, both of whom body their verses and the lesser known “One Call Away” which, no joke, featured the hook sung by J-Weav who you might know as Jason Weaver, the brother of TJ Henderson on Disney’s Smart Guy. Check the music video for J-Weav feeling himself and getting weirdly lonely near the local basketball court.
Actually this music video is so odd I feel the need to break it down for my readers. Chingy’s cashing a check at “DTP Bank/Bank of America” when, through the drive-in glass, he meets a girl who works as a bank teller with her mom and decides in the span of a transaction through soundproof, let me re-emphasize soundproof glass, that he has developed deep feelings for her. He slips her his phone number through the money he deposits and I guess they end up hanging out playing video games with a few friends. As soon as he drops her off from the hangout he gets home and his T-Mobile sidekick rings and it's a text from her saying she literally cannot “do without him” while she’s in the shower (R.I.P. to her phone since it’s 2003 and she’s in the shower with it... not smart).
We never do find out what they end up conversating about but the scene moves forward to Chingy getting crossed up and dicked on at the local basketball courts and then as soon as she and her friends show up he’s a streetball legend throwing alley-oops and crossing up nerds like a schoolyard bully. He ends the game kissing her on the cheek and catching a bunch of flack for it but he says he doesn’t care because he actually has deep feelings for this girl. She asks to come over to his spot so they walk that way. He takes a shower and ends up coming out of the shower to her in “a see-through thong” and we can only assume by his excited hand motions what went down next. For those of you keeping score: Chingy says “the next day I’m at the cage playing ball” by the second verse and then it ends with presumed sex. He developed love-type feelings and ended up having intimate relations with this girl he met through bulletproof glass at a bank over the course of two days. The best part: the person that makes this song faux-soulful, aka J-Weav, spends the entire portion of the video having some sort of moody situation leaned up on a fence with earbud headphones in. I’m not sure if he knows what Chingy is doing, or he’s cheering him on, or his angst perfectly coincides with Chingy’s love affair. All I’m really saying is it’s all pretty bizarre if you try and make a plot out of it; you’d better just not.
The album went to the top of the charts and double platinum through a deal with Capitol Records and DTP so Chingy was poised for the make or break moment of any popping artist’s career: the sophomore album. Luckily for Chingy, DTP was one of the hottest labels out and Luda wouldn’t let his now star-attraction go to battle empty handed. With what at the time was a crazy list of guest features, Chingy’s follow up album, "Powerballin", went platinum but really only produced one single “Balla Baby”. Big shoutout to "Need for Speed Underground" for using it on their soundtrack because I remember hitting R3 specifically to find that jam. In retrospect you really couldn’t lose in 2004 when you had Lil’ Wayne, R. Kelly, David Banner, Lil’ Flip and Janet Jackson backing you up, but despite a weak start, 7,000 copies first week it somehow pulled from behind to net 120,000 more in its second.
The next three releases from Chingy were lackluster and as usual, the story gets less detailed as his fame declines. After his third album, "Hoodstar" went barely gold and he got a lot less glor,y Ching-a-ling decided it was time to hang up his hat from DTP, and in a recent interview from Buzzfeed, the website you probably know as “20 gifs of popular NBC shows that totally apply to you as a quirky 20-something in a relatable way but are also vague enough that they apply to really anybody.” Let me take a moment of silence to express how weak Buzzfeed is and how their mild success must seem fairly hollow based on how lame 95% of their audience is. Yet this article wasn’t a total ruin… props; anyhow here’s what Chingy had to say about his DTP/Capitol departure:
“[In 2007] I was signed with DTP and Def Jam, and it was cool until we were working on a DTP compilation album with a new artist. I had this record called “Celebrity Chick,” which I wanted to get Ne-Yo and Ludacris on as my first single, but DTP wanted to use it as a single for the compilation album. This was the summer of ‘07. I released “Fly Like Me” with Amerie in December, with little promotion. I remember [DTP] having a meeting with L.A. Reid, and L.A. Reid was asking, “What happened?” DTP was [like], “We dropped the bomb, it just failed, this and that.” We released “Gimme That” with Bobby Valentino — they didn’t push it. They didn’t promote it. After that, I wasn’t hearing from nobody. Nothing.”
Since his departure he hasn’t officially released an album, except a few loose records here and there, but he is definitely working on music, this time with his own label formerly Slot-A-Lot Records but now named Full Dekk Entertainment. The bigger story than all of this is Chingy’s sudden switch from the world of baggy pants, mainstream rap and braggadocio to a new more secluded life that by the looks of his Instagram features healthy workouts and conspiracy theories. Chingy’s Instagram @chingyjackpot is full of conspiracy theory photos urging readers to #staywoke and also showcasing him and friends working out and hanging with family. Check them out for yourself there are too many interesting ones to capture.
As much as I’ve poked fun at Chingy a bit in this article it does look like he’s becoming family oriented, cleaning up his music and getting healthy so I applaud him for all those things. The trend I’ve noticed in the series is that Chingy, like our other subjects so far seems to have left the game due to a seemingly unethical label situation, I guess that just reinforces industry rule number four-thousand and eighty.