About: 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."
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.