Chamillionaire to release The Sound of Revenge
This kid from Houston, Texas has some nerve. That's what came to mind as you watched an MTV special in early 2005 showcasing H-Town's commercial and artistic re-emergence on the rap scene. Following his brazen freestyle, the focused and much-heralded MC known as Chamillionaire faced a national audience and launched a swagger-filled proclamation on camera: "I'm the truth from Texas..." While such boasting may seem par-for-the-course in the prideful 25-year-plus history of hip-hop, the latter ambitious statement aptly describes Chamillionaire. It's the reason why he earned the lofty alias "The Mixtape Messiah," a title Cham was crowned after independently selling over 100,000 copies of the Get Ya Mind Correct album, and by selling thousands of his numerous mix tapes. It's why the former member of Houston's legendary mix-tape power Swisha House garnered coverage in such major hip-hop publications as Source and XXL without the backing of a major deal. When the Houston lyricist set off a major label bidding war to distribute his Chamillitary Records, it became abundantly clear throughout the 'hood and the music industry – Chamillionaire is indeed the truth.
With his major-label debut The Sound Of Revenge set for release on Universal Records, Chamillionaire is poised to take his place among Houston's current hip-hop elite, including the new generation of rhyme-spitters such as Lil' Flip, Slim Thug, Mike Jones and Paul Wall, as well respected vets UGK and Scarface. "You call out a lot of rappers and ask them why they are the best and they are going to tell you everything but the music," Cham laughs. "They will tell you that they are the best because they have some nice rims, a chain, and a mansion." He then adds in a straight-no-chaser tone, "You've heard all the hype about Chamillionaire; that he's sick with the lyrics, sings hooks, and represents the streets and the clubs. But I just want to come as close as possible to living up to my reputation."
Title: The Sound of Revenge
Release date: 11/22/05
Single: Turn It Up
Buy at: Amazon
Chamillionaire recruits an impressive list of talent on his debut effort, including Lil' Flip, Bun B, Scarface, and Krayzie Bone, as well as in-demand producers Scott Storch (50 Cent), Mannie Fresh (Lil' Wayne, Baby, Juvenile) and Cool & Dre (The Game). But, it's his work with Atlanta studio kings The Beat Bullies (1Big Boi/OutKast) that sets the tone for much of The Sound Of Revenge's diverse platform. "They understand me," Cham says of the in-house producers. "There are a lot of producers that have dope beats, but they don't know me as an artist. [The Beat Bullies] being from Atlanta, can take it to the strip clubs, the streets and to the radio."
The name “Chamillionaire” represents the unique style that defines the talented urban artist, and his ability to change and adapt on the fly, forcing people to respect the true breadth of his talent. And just as this MC moniker exemplifies, Chamillionaire is anything but predictable and most certainly versatile. "Picture Perfect" featuring Bun B comes off as a lyrical nod to the classic 'hood swagger of UGK, while the Beat Bullies'-anchored “Radio Interruption" showcases Cham's prowess for walking the blurred line between street praise and mass appeal. The storytelling brilliance of "No Snitching" (Cool & Dre), finds Cham detailing the unwritten laws of 'hood politics. On the Scott Storch produced "Turn It Up," Cham tag-teams with freestyle king Lil' Flip as they spit over an infectious track that is Houston's answer to a summer club banger. And the soulful "Here Comes The Rain" finds Chamillionaire exploring the daily struggles of life with heartfelt lyricism and ghetto angst.
"It's a very personal song and the title says it all," Cham says of the revealing track. "In a person's life the rain symbolizes the struggles we all go through. Whether you are dealing with losing a loved one or your rent is due on the 1st, but it's the 3rd and you don't have it. I'm just talking about surviving the tough times."
Chamillionaire has definitely seen his share of struggles on his road to redemption. Born to a Muslim father and Christian mother, secular music was banned in his household. Chamillionaire was barely a teenager when he moved to a low-income neighborhood in the notorious North Side of Houston, following the separation of his parents. By the early '90s, however, rap rebels such as NWA, Public Enemy, as well as hometown heroes The Geto Boys, 8-Ball & MJG and UGK would inspire a young Hakeem to write his own rhymes.
At 17, Chamillionaire, along with childhood friend and fellow hip-hop fiend Paul Wall, started doing promotional work for various Texas events. The duo would eventually bump into Michael "5000" Watts, the influential founder and co-owner of Swisha House. What started off as a savvy business proposition by the two enterprising young men became a career-altering transformation, with Watts letting the duo to record the freestyle intro for his popular radio show on Houston's 97.9 Box.
Soon after, the young MC's found themselves rhyming on a string of Watt's trademark chopped and screwed mix tapes, which transformed Cham and Paul into local rap celebrities. Street props came before any financial rewards, however. "You'd have all these fans screaming for you at shows, then you'd go back afterwards to that poverty," Chamillionaire says. "I didn't want to be one of these rappers that holds his chain up just faking like he has money. I wanted more"
By 2002, the tandem known as Color Changin' Clique exited Swisha House and signed an album deal with local on-air radio personality Mad Hatter's Paid In Full label. The move proved to be a smart one as their full-length debut Get Ya Mind Correct became one of the best-selling independent releases of the year, reaching six-figure units sold. It would also earn a Source nomination for Indie Album of The Year. Lil' Flip featured Chamillionaire on his platinum album Underground Legend. Major labels were forced to pay attention. However, Chamillionaire later left the label to focus on his own mixtape hustle and label, Chamillitary Records. Now with a team that includes his brother/rapper Rasaq and former Swisha House CEO, chopped, and screwed icon O.G. Ron C, Cham has set out to finally take control of his business vision.
Which makes the title of his major label set The Sound Of Revenge an even more powerful statement of dedication, perseverance, and raw talent. Chamillionaire, the confident, determined kid from the North Side of Houston, Texas will no longer be denied.
Aptly given the moniker ‘Mixtape Messiah’, Chamillionaire has been commanding respect with his lyrical prowess for some time now and his following is about to sweep the nation. Major labels have been in hot pursuit of this no-holds-barred MC since his auspicious debut on the Texas indie scene a few years ago, but it is at Universal Records that the freestyle prince has finally decided to make his home, having signed a deal for his Chamillitary imprint at the end of last year.
Chamillionaire is currently working on his highly anticipated Universal debut titled ‘The Sound of Revenge’ and if the precedents broken by his underground releases are anything to go by, the game is about to be changed once again.
Born to a Muslim father and Christian mother, Chamillionaire’s family moved to Houston when he was only 4 and settled on the North Side. His father was determined to keep his children on the straight and narrow path and the legacy of that strict upbringing remains to this day. “My Father never supported my desire to be a rapper when I was growing up, so to hide what I was doing from him, I would write all of my rhymes in the messiest handwriting possible.” He reminisces. “If he would ever look at what I was working on, I would always tell him it was schoolwork. He couldn’t question me because the writing was illegible, except to me. It’s a habit I’m stuck with even now.” Chamillionaire did go on to complete 2 years at The University of Houston but withdrew to fully concentrate on his music career.
In his late teens, Chamillionaire, along with childhood friend Paul Wall, started doing promotions for major Texas events. “One day we (me & Paul) were doin promotions outside a club on the South Side and we bumped into Michael “5000” Watts, who was one of the hottest mixtape DJs on the North Side. We came at him and gave him a proposition about doing some promotions for his company. He set it up for us to come and meet him at his studio, The Swisha House, and when we got there, instead of talking about promotions, we convinced him to let us record a freestyle intro for the radio show that he had on Houston’s 97.9 The Box. We even convinced him to rap on the record with us and that was something that the public had never heard before because Watts was a DJ, not a rapper. He loved the record so much that he put it on one of his mixtapes and the freestyle started making a lot of noise in the streets.” The success of that track enabled Chamillionaire and Paul to begin rapping on a lot more of Watts’ screwed mixtapes and the street buzz they garnered led to them becoming fixtures at the Swisha House along with artists like Slim Thug. “Watts & OG Ron C were Co-CEOs of the label and each time either one of them would do a tape we would get on it. We eventually started makin a lot of noise in the streets but were not makin that much money doin the mixtape thing. There were 13 members in the Swisha House mixtape camp that the show money had to be divided amongst and us being the newest members, we just got told that we had to pay our dues when the money was being divided.”
The disparity between the popularity they had achieved and the lack of cash payment to show for it began to wear on many of Swisha House’s members. Slim Thug left the label and Chamillionaire and Paul soon followed suit. “We split off from the Swisha House and started our own mixtape group called ‘The Color Changin' Click.’ The group we started was five members including Paul Wall. As a group we were putting our own mixtapes out in the streets and our buzz was still so hot that we started selling a lot of copies and realizing how much money could be made. The hotter our name got in the streets, the more opportunities came our way.” It was at this time that Houston’s most popular radio DJ, Madd Hatta from 97.9 The Box came calling with a contract offer to do a full album on his Paid in Full Records label. He had some local success with previous album releases, and one of the hottest tracks on radio at the time so a short contract was negotiated. Their first album “Get Ya Mind Correct” (regular and screwed version) would go on to sell over 100,000 copies independently and was nominated for Indie Album of the Year in The Source putting to bed any notions nay sayers had about the group’s inability to sell major units.
With a certified street classic under their belt, CCC were doing shows nationwide, labels came calling with deal offers and Chamillionaire even featured on fellow Houston rapper Lil Flip’s platinum certified Sony release ‘Underground Legend’. Still the group decided to remain independent and build their resume until the right deal came along. As the time drew near for a second album release, creative differences had begun to fester between both Chamillionaire and Paul, and with Paid in Full Records. When it became clear that the issues dividing them could not be resolved, it was decided that the two would each release solo albums to be packaged together. Things were never resolved to his satisfaction though, and with his contractual obligations fulfilled, Chamillionaire left the label and his almost complete album, and decided to focus on his mixtape label instead. Paul Wall decided to remain.
Vowing never again to work for anyone but himself, Chamillionaire began cranking out his own mixtapes, bringing his younger brother Rasaq aboard as an artist. “I had already been through money problems with Swisha House and Paid in Full and I swore that I wasn’t gonna work for anybody else but me. The best way I could make sure that I received the money I was owed, was if I was the person that was in control.” Hiring former Swisha House CEO and ‘chopped and screwed’ DJ extraordinaire OG Ron C as his official DJ made the package complete and the group released mixtape after mixtape, going ‘ghetto platinum’ many times over. “It seemed like it was just us against the world because now that we refused to go back and do business with the folks from our past, they started becoming our enemies. The more success we had, the more conflicts I started havin with other people who hadn’t seen eye to eye with me in the past.” In a final attempt to have the last laugh, Paid in Full released an album with the title ‘Controversy Sells’, a name Chamillionaire had planned to use for his Universal debut, banking on the street buzz they knew had been generated. As they say though, those that laugh last, laugh longest and with the new album title ‘The Sound of Revenge’ Chamillionaire plans to laugh all the way to the bank.
With all his success Chamillionaire still has plans to return to school and finish his degree in Business.” I hope to turn Chamillitary Entertainment into a household name nationwide and use that success as a stepping stone to create other successful businesses.”
Chamillionaire can also be heard as a featured artist on the upcoming ‘The Longest Yard’ soundtrack.
"The Sound of Revenge" by Chamillionaire - release date: 11/22/05..