Chamillionaire has to be somewhat upset at
his status right now. During Houston's fairy tale boom in Hip Hop a few years
ago, his marginally-talented yet consistently-propped compatriots and former Swishahouse
label mates Slim Thug, Mike Jones and Paul Wall
received nationwide recognition and top-selling albums. Meanwhile, Cham
was more known for his split from Swishahouse than for his
lukewarm debut single "Turn It Up," featuring yet another ear-violator, Lil'
Flip in 2005.
All of that changed however when he dropped his monster second act, the trunk
rattling tale about corrupt cops "Ridin'." Backed by a re-energized Krayzie
Bone and perhaps the most memorable rap hook of 2006, the single
propelled Chamillionaire's The Sound Of Revenge to
platinum sales, the highest-selling ringtone of all time, a Grammy earlier this
year and most important of all, the long-overdue respect he so rightfully
Yet despite his immense success, Cham is still one sour
individual. Not only is he unwillingly throwing his entire town on his back
after his former partners have languished since their initial breakthroughs,
but he also has the daunting task of going toe-to-toe-to-toe with hip-hop's
biggest heavyweights - Kanye West and 50 Cent
- with his sophomore set, The Ultimate Victory, reaching stores just a
week after their huge releases. For any other rapper, this immense pressure
would burst their pipes, but Chamillionaire keeps his cool,
delivery one of the more cohesive albums this year.
Blending his trademark, butter-smooth melodies with hard-hitting beats and
intricate punch lines, The Ultimate Victory is an interesting blend of
braggadocio, thought-provoking, political undertones and bravado, something
rarely seen from today's mainstream emcee; much less one known for their
ringtone jingles. Jumping on society's ills with the opening cut "The Morning News,"
Cham laments, "Uncle
Sam says to pay your tax/even just to learn, gotta pay for a class/part-time
hustles really ain't gon' last/so today's forecast is to make more cash."
Keeping with the album's overall social commentary, Cham
touches upon a variety of topics. Whether dismissing slores on "Industry Groupie"
(nicely incorporating other artists and their work), swatting down aspiring
losers over the apocalyptic rumbles of "Won't Let You Down," or even relaxing
in "Pimp Mode"
with fellow Houstonian legend Bun B, Chamillionaire
effortlessly transitions from one subject to the next without coming off too
overbearing or preachy. But the album's true shining point is the Slick
Rick-guested "Hip Hop Police," where the two play both the role of the
corrupt cop and unlucky victim.
What make this album more compelling are the instrumentals that back Cham's
leveled-yet-commanding voice. Reuniting with "Ridin'" producers Play-N-Skillz
on the second single "The Bill Collecta" results in another top-notch
collaboration, while Kane Beatz - who provides the majority of
Victory's soundscapes - wantonly samples Swedish glam medal rockers Europe's
Countdown" on the aforementioned "Industry Groupie."
The Ultimate Victory may sound as if Chamillionaire
is determined to serve that cold dish from The Sound Of Revenge, but
it surprisingly takes an entirely different route, providing one of the most
interesting musical meals for the fall season. Chamillionaire
definitely takes home another chip to add to his mantle with this one.