Mon, 17 Sep 2007 17:42:02
A veteran mixtape hustler since way back, Chamillionaire has been reaping his share of success since Houston was catapulted onto the main stage of hip-hop. He went platinum with his major release debut, 2005's The Sound of Revenge, and won a Grammy won for the ubiquitous single, "Ridin'." With the release of his new album, Ultimate Victory (due Sept 18), right around the corner he spoke with ARTISTdirect about paging Slick Rick, why he's stopped using the n-word, and how he got $40,000 in cash out of Amsterdam in a suitcase.
Tell us about your hit single, "Hip-Hop Police." People might get a different idea of what it's about from the title.
The average mind will listen to it and think, "another police record," but it's really about people policing hip-hop. These days, it's become the equivalent of committing a murder to love hip-hop, you know what I mean? There's so much controversy—n-word, f-word, b-word. All this negative press surrounding rap. So it's basically a story about that. Definitely a conversation piece. And featuring the legendary Slick Rick.
How did you get hooked up with Slick Rick?
These days, most people go for the same old same old—you know? Take the safe route and pick one of the top 10 rappers that everybody features. I was like who can I get to tell a story? Slick Rick, that would be hot. I got his number and I two-wayed him. I didn't think he was going to hit me back but he did, and from there it just started falling in line. It wasn't meant to be a single, it just kind of happened that way.
A real legend, hitting you back on the pager?
Yeah, and he came to the studio by himself too. No jewels or nothing. He's a real humble guy.
You released the latest installment of your Mixtape Messiah series for free on your website, along with a downloadable DVD. Why'd you decide to give those away?
Basically to hold my fans down. I thought they'd appreciate it. I also realized my album had been pushed back, so it was partly a supply and demand kind of thing. I think nowadays you have to sell yourself to people. One song just doesn't do it. They have to notice that you consistently put out good stuff for them to just go get it. The motive for the DVD was basically to have people feel that they know me a little bit more.
You're legendary for your work ethic. What keeps you focused?
Man, I guess just appreciation for all this stuff. I want to build the empire. After so many years of being the underdog, how can you not continue to work to see it grow. The fans, the awards, the accolades, everything just makes me want to work harder to keep it up. I don't want to be one of those success stories where you just disappear. One of those guys who doesn't appreciate what he has and falls of the planet.
It's been a crazy year for you, from the awards to the touring. What's the wildest place that you've found yourself?
Probably Amsterdam. Walking around with fans seeing me in the red light district. Prostitutes in the windows and legal to smoke weed. I was going through customs with about $40,000 dollars in cash from promoters. They made me count my money right in front of 'em. It was just crazy. After that you come back to the US and you have really just seen the world. A lot of people don't realize what I see every day.
Listening to your mixtapes and your interviews recently, it sounds like you're a bit tired of certain aspects of the game. What's been getting under your skin?
There's a lot of followers, man. Everybody's just a follower in this game. That's why we're in this position in hip-hop right now. I went through a lot to be involved in hip-hop, and now that I'm finally here people are just butchering it. Not even caring and arguing, you know what I'm saying? It's almost like you're growing up in a dysfunctional home. When you get older, you wanna get away from all that. Nobody's really focused on the music, you know? That's why the quality went down and so much has changed. Everybody's worrying about the wrong things.
What did you love most about hip-hop back when you were starting out?
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