Chamillionaire: Southern Glory

Let’s face it. The South is running Hip-Hop. Everybody should just say it out loud because it’s real. The East Coast has been dry for a long minute. The West Coast is limping along, and looking a bit unfocused. The South though, stays dirty. When Chamillionaire won the MTV Video Music Award for “Best Rap Video” several weeks ago, the proof was in the “moon man” trophy.

2006 has been a massive year for the Houston veteran. Chamillionaire reflects back on all the changes he sees in his day-to-day, as well as in Hip-Hop together. When 50 Cent tells you that you’re a winner, you know you’re undeniable. Chamillionaire speaks on why he’s gonna ride on this fame as long as possible.

AllHipHop.com: “Ridin’” is and was such a popular song, it’s been the song of the year to many people…

Chamillionaire: “Ridin’” is a song I just wrote. It wasn’t intended to be a single. It felt like something I thought a lot of people could relate to. Of course the goal is to make a catchy hook. So, I made a catchy hook. It does not fit the normal idea of a hit single. But I think it was because so many people could relate to it.

AllHipHop.com: Tell me about the “moon man” you got at the MTV Video Awards.

Chamillionaire: I was real surprised. I didn’t make a speech or nothing. 50 Cent was sitting in front of me. He told me he thought I was gonna win. I was shocked. It felt real good though.

AllHipHop.com: Talk to me about the rap culture of Houston. Where was it ten years ago? Where is it today?

Chamillionaire: In the beginning, you had Rap-A-Lot. They were like the pioneers of the whole Houston rap thing. They were gangsta rappers. But it wasn’t the same kinda gangsta that it is today. Now everybody wants to be gangsta. They were doing the gangsta thing when it was a rebellious thing to do. I remember how people were trying to stop them and silence them. They were still putting out Scarface, the Geto Boys and all these groups….UGK is another group that was making a lot of noise. Then you had Suave House…8 Ball and MJG. Then Houson came into its next wave. Like Lil’ Flip, me, and Mike Jones – Slim Thug and Paul Wall [too]. We’ve been about this for a while. The candy paint, the grills and all that. But we started taking it to the next level. Now it’s like when people get off a plane they think that’s all you gonna see. It’s almost like it became more materialistic.

AllHipHop.com: I’ve heard a lot about the stress that the evacuees from Katrina put on the city of Houston. Can you talk about that for a minute? Is it overblown?

Chamillionaire: I hear people complain and stuff all the time. But, from what I can see, it’s going pretty well. It’s not as bad as people try to make it out to be. People like to point fingers and stuff. They tried to make like all these evacuees were robbin’ cars and stuff. I was on the road when Katrina hit. When I got back…when you go to the clubs the DJ will play a New Orleans track and say “How many people in here from New Orleans?” and a huge number of people will scream back. So, I think it’s good. Atlanta, Houston, Cleveland, lots of people are dealing with the aftermath of that.

AllHipHop.com: Where is a place you found yourself that you never thought rap would take you?

Chamillionaire: Jay Leno [and The Tonight Show]. It was crazy sitting in the green room, watching him on the screen. Then he called my name, and I went out there. I looked out into the crowd and saw all these people that I’m sure are not familiar with rap. To be in front of them, it was like we brought the hood to Hollywood.

AllHipHop.com: Tell me about your shows overseas.

Chamillionaire: I went to Canada, London, all over Europe. I felt like the crowds overseas appreciate Hip-Hop more in general. Now it seems like American fans seem so spoiled. With iPods and all this technology they expect so much out of an artist. Overseas, you can grab one mic and just rip the whole show. They remember it for a longer period of time. The only thing was trying to get used to the food in all the different kinds of places.

AllHipHop.com: What kind of food did you eat?

Chamillionaire: I ain’t gonna lie. I found a Pizza Hut and I pretty much ate there everyday [laughs]. I ordered like a cheesecake in London. They gave me something sitting in a shot-glass. It was nasty. I was somewhere else and ordered a salmon. Man, it looked like somebody reached into the water, snatched up a salmon and put it on a plate [more laughter]. I think that was in Berlin.

AllHipHop.com: A lot of other regions hate the South. Some people in the East have big hatred. Out here in the Bay, you get a lot of love. But then a bunch of other folks out here feel the South jacked their turn…

Chamillionaire: I can’t be mad at them though. I mean, the whole South felt like that [neglected] for years. I mean, I remember when Death Row and the whole West Coast was just it. Man, I remember when Wu-Tang came out. At that time, anybody from the East Coast could come out with a record, and that was just it.

Everybody used to dress like New York. You’d say names like Scarface and UGK and people would look at you funny. It’s just a circle that goes around and now we gettin’ our time. Of course, we’d be silly to think this is going to last forever. People always love something new. So, when they get tired of us, they’ll go so something else. It could be Hyphy, or something nobody has even heard yet. So, people are just gonna have to perfect their craft and with their turn. In the meantime, [they need to] try to find a way to fit in. If something else was hot right now, I’d find a way to fit in.

Adisa Banjoko is a Hip Hop historian and author of “Lyrical Swords Vol. 1 & 2”. For more information, visit www.lyricalswords.com.

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