Thursday, September 6, 2007
Chamillionaire - Ultimate Victory: Review
“Silly rappers think I’m worried about a punchline/I show more purpose than your whole career in one line” - Chamillionaire on “Morning News”/Line Of The Year
Hey, can you keep a secret? Shhh, but uh, you know, Chamillionaire, right? Well, uhh, it turns out he’s secretly a conscious rapper! Don’t tell anybody. Yeah, I know he’s from the South and raps about pimpin’ hoes and gettin’ money and shit but yeah, he’s actually a better conscious rapper than Common at this point. Yeah, I know, it’s blasphemy to suggest that so keep that shit on the low. I’ve got a reputation to uphold. But, uh...yeah, it’s true.
The focal point of Chamillionaire’s second solo album, The Ultimate Victory, centers around a two-song conceptual punch “The Morning News” and “The Evening News” in which Cham addresses a myriad of issues that plague society from everything from Palestinian/Israeli conflict, the media’s recent silence on Hurricane Katrina, the hypocrisy of the no snitching rule (“Would you tell me you sold out if I executed the no snitchin’ rule/it sounded like a good idea ‘til a murder happened to you”), Don Imus, and even good ol’ Osama Bin Laden. Cham’s witty one-liners are able to indict societal woes a whole lot more effectively than your typical conscious rappers hallow “I’m For The People” mantra.
Ultimate Victory is one of the best rap records (which isn't saying much but still...) to be released this year and of the one best lyrical performances from a Southern rapper in recent years. Cham employs a nimble 50 Cent-esque sing-song flow (although not nearly as lazy) that skates over the beat and is technically masterful. It’s thrilling to listen to Chamillionaire shred his verses over street bangers (Editor’s Note: Uhh, Did I actually just say “Street Banger”? I hate when people describe songs as “ street bangers”.) like “Standing Ovation” and “Come Back To The Streets.” The record establishes Cham as the one of the best southern lyricists outside of Andre 3000 and Bun B and the best young southern emcee working. (Yes, he’s better than Weezy and T.I. I give credit to people who actually have something important to say. Sue me. And he’s technically better than both.) The album starts strong with the “The Morning News/Hip Hop Police” combo and that slowly builds until it reaches a fever pitch around Pimp C assisted “Welcome To The South.” A song in which he both addresses the many critics of the South who claim that all rappers from the South are garbage and as well as addressing the many wack rappers from the South who are ruining the reputation of the South with its simplistic music. The production is a bass heavy trunk rattler the South is famous for and features Pimp C at his charismatic, ignorant glory. Its one of the highlights to the record.
Although, the record is at it’s heart politically and socially conscious, it’s also has its moment where it’s willfully goofy. “Industry Groupie” samples Europe’s “The Final Countdown” (Yes, everybody’s favorite arena rock classic) and is one the strangest songs you will hear all year. It plays like your stereotypical “I Ain’t Love No Hoes” jam if only interpreted by The GZA when he’s in his “Labels/Fame/Publicity” conceptual mode. Cham name checks every major rapper and their trademark phrases to insult a random groupie. The Europe sample is just so ridiculously good that this is the type of idea that Dipset should have done years ago. (Note: Of this song ever gets a video, I have the most perfect idea for the video. It involves Will Arnett, Gob from Arrested Development, playing Chamillionaire and dancing around a stage while Cham shows up dressing and imitating every major rapper in the world. Hit me up, Cham! I’m an aspiring music video director, too! We could win VMA's together!)
This album isn’t perfect by any means. The album does have many of the same flaws that plagued its predecessor, The Sound Of The Revenge. At times, the production can be un-inspired and treads in the cliches of your typical Southern production which is shame because Chamillionaire gives such a strong vocal production over the production. Personally, its still refreshing to hear a Southern rapper aspire to be lyrical and have something to same which really can’t be said for many of the Southern heavyweights outside of Andre 3000. Of the three huge rap records that are being released in the next upcoming weeks, this isn’t quite as good as Graduation but this eons better than Curtis. My advice is to buy Graduation on September 11th, save your money for a week and buy Ultimate Victory on the 17th and then break out your copy of Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ and get the same basic experience you would get if you actually bought Curtis. Trust me, you’ll be happier.