The music business is not your friend, and almost no one knows the "what-have you-done-for-me-lately" nature of the game better than Chingy. The St. Louis phenom has seen it all, and now with almost a decade in the industry he finds himself in an impossible position. On one hand he’s got the notoriety of being “the dude who did Right Thurr,” on the other it’s becoming increasingly likely he’ll be known only as “the dude who did Right Thurr.” It’s the blessing and the curse of an early career hit single. To make matters worse …
DJBooth Album Review
The only way Ching-a-ling could have truly succeeded was to make Hate It or Love It an original and daring album, he didn’t - a more appropriate title would have been Love It, Hate It, or Not Care Either Way. The Chingy camp rightly decided to start off the new campaign with Fly Like Me and Gimme Dat, arguably the album’s two best songs, and while they’re not bad, they’re not that good either. Fly Like Me proves once again that any song including the impossibly lovely Amerie can’t fail, but it also relies on the same bouncy beat formula Ja Rule’s been using since 2001. Although Chingy’s high-pitched flow is fine for such a radio-friendly jam, I just wanted him to finish so I could hear Amerie again (I can't be the only one). Gimme Dat brings in the DTP big guns, or more accurately the big gun, with the inclusion of resident crooner Bobby Valentino and the invincible Ludacris. The beat swaggers with celebratory flair as Chingy drops some of his most dynamic flows on the album, and then is predictably obliterated by Luda. It’s a perfectly fine song and should get some radio play, but doesn't do anything to answer those “Chingy needs Ludacris” critics, this one included.
Whatever hints of originality that appear on those songs are largely lost in the unremarkable muddle that makes up the bulk of Hate It or Love It. Check My Swag is, shockingly, a rap song about owning expensive things. The production could have come off almost any Atlanta rappers’ record in the past two years, and Chingy relies heavily on his high-pitched and breathy vocal style to carry the lyrically absent verses. It’s literally impossible for me to feel this song considering, frankly, I just don’t care about Chingy’s swag. At all. Seriously. Luckily, the percussion heavy sound of All Aboard (Ride It) woke me from my swag-induced nap, if only long enough for me to realize I liked the song better when the Quad City DJs did it (if you didn’t get that joke you’re probably under 25, google it and get back to me). All Aboard’s mediocre sound is sadly indicative of the entire album; not interesting enough to truly be hated, not deserving of love, just…there.
Chingy does venture into some relatively uncharted waters (for him) on Hate It or Love It, and while they’re by no means groundbreaking they certainly deserve mention. He joins the suddenly long list of rappers to include a song about loving their mommas with the remarkably personal Lovely Ladies, a slowly moving ode to the women in his life. I wonder how his mom feels about the “skeet in her eye” portion of his other song about women, Blockstar? Maybe we’ll find out on his next album when he apologizes to her. How We Feel brings on soul-sensation Anthony Hamilton for some politically charged rhymes on How We Feel, most notably including an endorsement of Barack Obama and a Hillary Clinton dis (could there be Clinton/Chingy beef?). But even these bright spots aren’t enough to bring light to the forgettably dim Hate It or Love It. To borrow a line from Dennis Green: Chingy is who we thought he was; an average rapper who makes average albums. Sound cold? Sorry, the music business isn’t a very warm place.
DJBooth Rating - 3 Spins
Written by Nathan S. on 12/27/07
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