New Chamillionaire album worth a million

By Jules Ouanes

Chamillionaire is one of the most misinterpreted artists in rap today. His enormous single “Ridin’ Dirty” earned him all kinds of mainstream success, including a Grammy and the best selling ringtone ever. But his commercial victories are also the reason no one really takes him seriously. His name, pronounced “kuh-millionaire,” is pretty ridiculous and some think of him as nothing more than a “ringtone rapper” such as Mims (“This is Why I’m Hot”). What people don’t realize is that he is one of the best rappers alive, with one of the most storied catalogues in hip-hop, including countless mixtapes and a Paul Wall collaboration that is considered one the best southern rap albums.His new album, “Ultimate Victory,” released September 18 on Motown Records, is a compelling showcase of Cham’s versatility as an emcee, as he explores different subject matter on all nineteen tracks over strung out guitars and heat-soaked southern synths. Chamillionaire’s been in the game a long time and has almost perfected his rhyme skills. He times each syllable perfectly, and can effortlessly switch his slow, syrupy flow to quick double-time raps.

But despite some truly incredible songs, his debut suffered from a lot of filler and too many stereotypical braggadocio tracks. “Ultimate Victory” follows a similar blueprint but excels where its predecessor failed. There are still plenty of highlights buried within the record’s overwhelmingly long run-time, but even the clich songs are worthwhile. Take “The Ultimate Vacation,” one of the corniest track names ever, a self-explanatory song that I can’t stop listening to solely because his delivery is so amazing that it makes up for the bland subject matter.
While his writing skills are always on point, Cham’s greatest asset is his voice. When he’s rapping, his vocal tone is crisp and smooth, with each word enunciated perfectly. Smothering each beat with his deep Texas drawl, Chamiollionare easily has the best singing voice in rap. It’s to the point where every song is worth listening to because anything he says sounds incredible, regardless of what he’s talking about. “Standing Ovation” is a great example, as he takes a typical song about haters and brings a vocal performance so strong that it stands as one of the album’s best tracks.

Chamillionaire often uses played out themes for songs, but he also provides some very original tracks here that are near flawless. “I Think I Love You” has an absolutely perfect hook and an interesting storyline set to shifting synths and plucked guitar strings. Cham provides a brilliantly intricate personification of money and the problems that come with it, an interesting concept coming from a rapper who has spent his career obsessing over getting paid. The album’s other true highlight is the title track, which shows Cham more personal than ever over one of the best songs of his illustrious career. His internal rhymes are flawless here and he recognizes that he is often misunderstood, saying “Now that everyone’s present is this victory night/let me re-paint the pic, they wasn’t depicting me right.”

The production on this record is very consistent, most of it handled by Houston locals. I was at first a little surprised that Cham has so few big name producers on here, especially after the success of “Ridin,” but the local beat-smiths make for a very cohesive sound. Another great thing about this album are the featured artists, all of whom are at the top of their game. Southern rap legend Bun B drenches the leaning “Pimp Game” with his trademark baritone, Lil’ Wayne’s croaky flow fits “Rock Star” perfectly, and Krayzie Bone, who was on “Ridin,” devours “The Bill Collecta” with his maniacal flow.

Overall, Ultimate Victory is an excellent album from front to back, and it only gets better as each listen reveals the complex rhyme skills that Chamillionaire possesses. Unfortunately, this album is likely to go overlooked, as there is no “Ridin Dirty” level single here and it is likely to get lost in all the 50 Cent vs. Kanye hype. Another thing worth mentioning is that there is a strong overtone of social commentary throughout the album and there is no swearing or suggestive terms at all. His political statements are often far too simple and at times ridiculous, but it’s clear that Cham cares about the state of hip-hop and his role in the problem and solution. With this stellar sophomore record, he shows that his talent expands far beyond “Ridin Dirty” and further establishes himself as one of the top emcees in hip-hop.