There was a time when I thought Chamillionaire was just another here-today, gone-tomorrow rapper. I assumed that once America got tired of Ridin Dirty he’d slowly but surely drown under the pressure of creating another hit. But then things changed: I started to re-consider my stance while first listening to his Mixtape Messiah series, and then he dropped Ultimate Victory and I was forced to flat out apologize. I’m man enough to admit when I’m wrong and damn was I wrong. Not only is he no one-hit wonder, Cham is legitimately one of the most …
DJBooth Album Review
Just in case he hadn’t proved me wrong enough, now Chamillionaire has made one of the best mixtapes of the year. Whether or not you believe it’s literally the year’s best depends on what you like in a mixtape. If you turn to a mixtape for tracks so grimy and illegally copyrighted they shouldn’t even dream of mainsteam radio, then you’re better off spending the night with the Re-Up Gang (no homo). But if you like your mixtapes so daringly creative it’d make most major labels run faster than Diddy after a club shooting, then you need to get down to Mixtape Messiah 4.
Remember that “most underrated” claim I made in the intro? (If you don’t it’s probably time to lay off the chronic). Well luckily Messiah 4’s contains more than a couple high profile remixes, giving us a golden opportunity to compare him to the game’s best. Speaking of The Game, Cham remixes the hit My Life and showcases the profilic writing skills that sets him above the crowd, though it’s worth noting that unlike Game, he just doesn’t have that distinctive voice that makes you feel his pain in every syllable. He’s stronger when he can just flow on track’s like Hero, his remix of Nas’s latest hit, a moving track’s that sure to get some attention after he calls out nearly every major rapper alive and then declares “I’m shouting out all these artists to make me step up my game.” Exactly where he belongs in the rapper ranks is a discussion for another day, but it’s safe to say that on lyricism and bravery alone he’s near the top.
While Cham may not have a one-in-a-million voice, he is absolutely dominating the concept track game. With the exception of Lupe, no one delivers more innovative ideas than the man they call King Koopa, starting with the “you have to hear this” Roll Call Reloaded. On Roll Call he impressively flips through impressions of other rappers, from Jeezy to Snoop and Ricky Ross, so dead-on he’s like hip-hop’s version of a Transformer: paticularly impressive is his Plies and Jim Jones’ distinctive “Ballin!” Closer to home is Internet Nerds Revenge, a track where Chamillionaire embodies the kind of “keyboard gangsters” that run rampant over the internet – and DJBooth’s worked to keep at bay. You get the feeling that Internet Nerds is more like Cham’s revenge on everyone who’s ever dared type his name, especially considering the almost ridiculous ending. But the real lesson is that Chamillionaire says what he wants to say, when he wants to say it, and on Messiah 4 he says it all.
While Messiah 4 doesn’t have a true banger it’s by no means devoid of heat. Koopa borrows one of the hardest beats on record for Go Hard, a pounding track that was 20K in a previous lifetime. If you’re looking for unharnessed aggression than Re-Up Gang’s version is still better, but Go Hard shows he can flex some lean muscle when the challenge arises. Gun talk just isn’t Chamillionaire’s forte, if he’s going to hit the streets he does so much better on tracks like Do It For H Town, a smoothly grinding track that’s part tribute to the late-great Pimp C, part ode to Houston. The slower pace fits Cham perfectly and he appropriately kills it. Frankly he kills the entire mixtape, but we’ve got to be careful not to confuse mixtapes with albums – albums still matter more – but if Messiah 4 is any indication Chamillionaire’s on a mission to take over the rap game by force, and he’s only getting stronger.
DJBooth Rating - 4 Spins
Written by Nathan S. on 09/3/08
First DJ Booth Appearance:
"Bet That ft. Chamillionaire & Goldrush" (2006)
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