Chamillionaire’s always got one in the chamber. When Universal Records limited the multi-platinum emcee’s catalog to two studio albums in over six years, the Houston veteran resorted to acclaimed mixtapes, often sold directly through his website. The just-released nine-song Ammunition EP maintains this model, and while it lacks a big artistic concept (beyond having supplemental material), the fast-talking Ringtone Rap pioneer unloads heartfelt bars that demonstrate his strong connection to his core with another full clip.
“Let’s Get That” is a nod to the pre-major label Chamillionaire. He boasts, “the flow is vicious,” as the notorious nice-guy reverts back to talking about threesomes, fast cars and how he’s apathetically kept his Grammy Award in the box. At the chorus, and to finish the song out, Koopa provides background singing that makes the track perfect for the car, and more than just another cliche “brag-rap.” A more potent message lives in “Won’t Change.” Cham’s much improved choruses and singing pave the track for the emcee to recognize that he’s very much a part of the city whose musical legacy he helped rebuild in 2005 and earlier.
The positive Chamillionaire that evolved after the notoriety shines on EP-closer “Never Enough.” It’s an ambiguous track that plays into the notion that quantity from Rap artists drive the industry, but also a spiritually-tinged song that questions materialism and champions perseverance – themes that have held down Cham’s image over the last five years. Another standout is “You Gon Learn” with Saigon, where the two outspoken critics of labels and old-guard industry tactics preach about outing their lying peers over being poor role models and fake thugs. This is one of the more interesting collaborations in Chamillionaire’s career as of late, for an H-Town artist who found ways to make powerful singles with the likes of Krayzie Bone and Slick Rick.
Ammunition is not the powder keg that was The Sound Of Revenge, or to a lesser extent, Ultimate Victory. However, more than most artists in his position, Chamillionaire proves that he doesn’t need high profile guests, production or a label PR campaign to prove he’s one of Rap’s best emcees. Although there are still some awkward choruses at times and conflicting messages, this EP affirms the belief that the in-house model has many rooms, and that Chamillionaire’s journey has been comfortably cyclical.