In 2003, Chingy cashed in with his now classic, triple-platinum album Jackpot. He struck certified platinum again in ‘04’ with PowerBallin’, which proved to the world that Chingy was no one-hit wonder. Now it’s 2006. And Ching-a-Ling is back with his third and most exciting album, Hoodstar. This time, it’s personal.
“I’m from the ghetto and I wanted to show my appreciation for where I come from,” he says. “Even if you’ve had success, you don’t ever forget where you come from.”
Hoodstar is one album you won’t soon forget, either. Part auto-biographical, part club-bangin’, it chronicles the life of a star from the hood—the highs, the lows, and all the girls, cars, clothes, and everything in between. The record is also a great big shout out to Chingy’s hometown—Walnut Park in North Side St. Louis.
To make musical magic, Chingy assembled an all-hoodstar team of producers, including Jermaine Dupri, Poli Paul, Timbaland, The Trak Starz, Mannie Fresh, Mr. Collipark and Kwame. Guest artists include Three 6 Mafia, Tyrese, Young Spiffy and Fatman Scoop.
The album is divided into two parts, each highlighting a different side of Chingy’s musical style: The “Hood” side is street-smart and crunk-heavy. “These are the hardcore jams,” Chingy explains. Songs like “Hands Up” and “Cadillac Door”, talk about life in the ghetto in raw and real terms. On the “Star” side, Chingy lightens up the vibe, cranking out high-energy, party anthems like “Brand New Kicks” and “Dem Jeans”. Music, that in his words, “gets you so amped you just come out of your shirt.”
Hoodstar’s personal tone is captured perfectly in the lead single, “Pullin’ Me Back.” Over a smooth, R&B track, Chingy rhymes with his trademark laid-back flow about the difficulties of balancing a successful career and a personal relationship. He confesses the jam was inspired by a real-life experience. “Somebody that I was seeing made that song happen.” But he also says it speaks to a universal problem in the industry. “If you’ve got a woman in this business, you are not going to be able to give her that quality time,” he says. “You’re going to try, but you’re also on the road, and it’s hard to keep the relationship going.”
The track was produced by Jermaine Dupri, and Chingy says the first time he heard it, he immediately got into the zone: “I just went down to the studio in my basement and laced it on the spot,” he recalls.
Chingy gets the party started with the next single, “U A Freak,” a Hindi/Hip Hop nod to the Janet Jackson classic “Nasty.” “This is a club record,” he says. “Every woman and man says they’re not a freak, but then they hit the dance floor and everybody is bumping and grinding. Everyone’s got some freak in them.”
He continues getting his freak on with the dance-floor anthem “Ass N Da Aurr,” featuring Chingy’s cousin Young Spiffy with beats by Sanchez. Says Chingy, “That’s a grown up sexy song. You can play it at the 18 and older club and the 35 and older club. It appeals to everybody.”
Next, Chingy turns his attention to his favorite accessory—kicks. He claims to own over 4,000 pairs of sneakers, so when Poli Paul sent him a sample of Jay-Z rhyming “Nike Airs and Crispy Ts”, the lyrics resonated with him. Putting his own St. Louis twist on it (Airs became Aurrs), he captures a day in the life of a Hoodstar to a T.
The album takes a harder turn with the bass-thumping “Club Getting Crowded,” a 100% crunk-proof record that Chingy says was inspired by hanging out at clubs in Memphis with Three 6 Mafia. “You know how you can be at a club and a certain song comes on and everybody just goes haywire?” he asks. “That’s what this record is.”
On the romantic tip, Chingy serves up the smart and sexy “Let Me Luv You.” Timbaland provides the stuttering, bass-heavy sonics, while Chingy waxes poetic about lust at first sight. He sets the scene for us: “You’re at a lounge, chilling, and you see a young lady that just catches your attention. And you would do anything for her right there on the spot.”
Perhaps the album’s most important cut is “Cadillac Door”, which details the struggles in the ghetto. When Chingy first heard the chorus, he was deeply moved. “It meant a lot to me personally,” he says. “With all I’ve gone through— rapping when no one was showing me love and watching people close to me pass away—that’s a real serious song for me.” He says the overall message of the song is the same one he uses to navigate his own life: “Keep it positive and don’t let negativity get you down.”
In fact, it’s this spirit of positivity and his desire to give back to the community that caused Chingy to launch the Chingy for Change Foundation with his mother. The foundation gives college scholarships to disadvantaged youth, feeds the homeless, and sponsors toy drives. “It’s all about helping folks with their dreams and enabling them to do things they normally wouldn’t have the chance to do,” Chingy says.
Spoken like a true Hoodstar.