As Mike Jones, Slim Thug, and Paul Wall garner mainstream recognition in 2005, Chamillionaire patiently waits. After all, some critics claimed he carried the 2002 Get Ya Mind Correct album that put him and Paul Wall, then as a group, on the map.
Though the Swisha House affiliation and the independent labels have progressed to Universal and now Scott Storch, Chamillionaire speaks to AllHipHop.com as a man with much to prove. Gain insight to his unique identity, his defense of H-Towns Rap content, and some interesting remarks on his disputed relationship with Paul Wall. Dont get it screwed up
AllHipHop.com: What part of Houston were you born and raised in?
Chamillionaire: Northwest Houston. That was a side during the whole movement when rappers from Houston were getting on us because the South side was doing it real big. You had a lot of South side artists that were getting on - like the O.G. type of members. The Screwed Up Click members, DJ Screw was on that side of town - R.I.P. to him. Paul Wall, Slim Thug, and I are all from the North side and we were just coming up trying to get it. All of us started killing the mixtapes and building up our buzz.
AllHipHop.com: What was it like growing up in Houston for you? What struggles did you face?
Chamillionaire: Its crazy, because I have this crazy street buzz and a lot of people know about me in the South, but I don't have the same stories as a lot of people. Most people have this retired or ex-drug dealer type story, but my story is not like that, its more normal. I was a youngster that was trying to feed his family and was living poor. A lot of people wanna be a rapper - the average Black person or youth wants to be a rapper or basketball player - but people never give them the real side of it. Rappers are running around here showing them their jewelry and its telling them that its all sweet. As I got older and smarter, I was like, You know what, I'm gonna start telling these people the real. I ain't getting paid right now. I just started going through stuff like that. And with me growing up, my dad was a Muslim and my mom was a Christian. It was crazy - they eventually divorced and split up. And I can't say my life was the craziest, because I'm happy the way I live and I wouldn't go back and change anything that happened.
AllHipHop.com: With your dad Muslim and your mom Christian, how did that play a role in your life?
Chamillionaire: My dad used to take me to the mosque and then my mom would sneak me out to Bible study. I was dealing with decisions at a young age and it got to a point when I got older and I started to trust my gut instinct. And now a lot of the stuff I do, everybody has an opinion about it. But I just do me and its been working. People have been like, "So and so is going to be mad at you if you say this." But its the truth so I am going to say it. So I have been living that and my cult following has appreciated that.
AllHipHop.com: If you don't mind me asking, do you follow one of those two religions?
Chamillionaire: Yeah, I'm Christian. I dont say nothing bad about my dad though, because I understand both religions. My dad would put the Quaran in front of us and there is good and bad in both of them.
AllHipHop.com: Sometimes people have that one album they constantly listened to growing up that holds a special place? Do you have one of those albums?
Chamillionaire: I feel like music needs to wake you up and be that breath of fresh air. I guess UGK would always do that for me. I have always liked Bun B and Pimp C because they had two different styles, but their music always matched and they made good music together. All of their music is timeless and you can listen to it three or four years later. So I would say Ridin' Dirty by UGK is probably that album for me.
AllHipHop.com: Correct me if I am wrong, but I read that you first lived in a middle-class section of Houston, but when your parents spilt, you went to live with your mom in a neighborhood that was a lot worse. Is that true?
Chamillionaire: Yeah, my dad lived in a lower middle class suburb. But even though we lived in that area, we were still poor. My dad used to find little hustlin' ways to make stuff happen. I ain't gonna lie - I'm a little skinny n***a - and we used to just eat cereal for dinner. I had that for so many years. I ate rice so many times, for so many days, and now I can't even eat rice because that is what I used to eat every day. It was just rice and butter everyday - that's it - for dinner. So we were poor. Even when me and Paul Wall were coming up, his life was a little different than mine. His household was a completely different environment than mine. But I guess that was just the mentality that my dad had. He is a real strict and stern man, so it wasn't a real lovey household like that. Then when they split up, I went to live with my mom, and from that point on, that is when it got completely real. You started to get into the real world then. My moms, she is a real positive person and always thinks the good of everything. She can make the good out of any situation. We could be in one little small room eating cereal, and she'll be like, "At least we got sugar." But I just knew we had to get up outta there. That is what really really made me wanna get us out of there and be successful. All kinds of little stuff like that was happening. My little sister got pregnant at a young age, so stuff like that I was dealing with. I just didn't want to see my family go through all of that, so everything I do is for my family so I can get them up out of all that.
AllHipHop.com: Everyone is familiar with your story of how you came up in the underground with Paul Wall and everybody, so can you just give us a brief run down of how you started to grind and make a name for yourself in this Rap game?
Chamillionaire: We started off by passing out flyers and trying to build connections. We then started doing the mixtape freestyles and then it was the chopped and screwed mixtapes - which were going everywhere. So that is how the buzz started to spread, because at that time [Swisha House] had more popular artists. They had like 13 artists and Slim Thug was one of the popular ones. We were seeing that you could get money if you did it yourself. We built up a bigger fan base and buzz because of that. And when we dropped that album called Get Your Mind Correct, - and that's exactly what happened when it dropped. We got nominated for independent album of the year in The Source and we got a lot of love, good reviews and sales. We were going everywhere performing all of the songs on the album. But later down the line, you have divide and conquer and a lot of people came into play. So me and him split up and he went back to Swisha House. But I didn't want to work for nobody, so I started my own thing - Chamillitary. Swisha House then got the deal with Warner and I got my deal with Universal.
AllHipHop.com: I recently heard that you and Paul Wall squashed your beef. Can you give us the rundown of how that went down?
Chamillionaire: I guess some kind of email or news bulletin went out that we squashed our beef, but honestly, at that time, me and Paul Wall never even spoke. But I kind of just let it be without saying anything even though I didn't approve of that or anything, because I felt like with me and Paul, it was never really beef like that. A lot of people put titles on it and made it what they wanted it to be because they weren't seeing us doing songs together or hanging out with the same click. We are not cool, and I already admitted that. But it wasn't really beef, because beef is when n***as are seeing each other, and they want to fight and hurt each other. But it wasn't like that with Paul, we just weren't cool anymore. We ain't cool and everybody wants to see us get back together. He grew into a different person and I grew into a different person, and yeah there is a whole bunch of personal stuff that went on that I wouldn't even speak about in interviews, but for the most part I can say I'm not cool with Paul and we are not doing music with him. We don't hang out and all of that, but we are not beefing. So I basically let that email be. I didn't do no interviews or anything about it, because I know it looked like a publicity stunt. But I didn't do that because I didn't send that email out. But I can say that we aren't beefing.
AllHipHop.com: When you talked to Paul over the phone, what did he say to you? The same type of thing, he ain't tripping?
Chamillionaire: I didn't talk to him over the phone, we talked over the 2-way. And we sent messages back and forth stating the same thing I have always said - I'm not tripping - for real. We are worrying about us, good luck with your career. And he said the same thing back.
AllHipHop.com: What types of songs, issues and concepts can fans expect to hear on The Sound Of Revenge ?
Chamillionaire: I tried to switch it up throughout the whole album, because people have this thing where they say, "If you heard one song, you heard them all." Well, that is not the case with my album because you have all types of different songs and styles on it. I try to give them a little bit of everything. I got song with Scarface called "Here Comes The Rain." And that song is just me and him getting deep. Then I got a song with Krayzie Bone called "Trying To Catch Me." Its a song about ridin' dirty and we talk about how you are young and youre getting it - you got money and look flashy - but the police are just hating on you. I also got this song with Pastor Troy and Killer Mike called "Southern Takeover." We are just giving it to them as raw as we can give it to them about how the South is just getting it right now.
AllHipHop.com: Did you have to dig deep into your pockets for that Scott Storch beat?
Chamillionaire: I remember people telling me what he usually charges, but he didn't charge me that. I mean, he charged and he is expensive. That comes with the territory if you want a Scott Storch beat, but I ain't going to lie, I'm going to keep it real, at first I was skeptical. When I went in there, I talked to him and I didn't know if I wanted to do it. I was like, I can't see a beat being worth that much. Some people may say stuff about him as a producer, but he has the biggest hits.
AllHipHop.com: Recently, I read an article that states there is an overuse of syrup in Texas right now and authorities are saying Hip Hop blame is influencing a lot of kids to drink it. Have you seen a lot of kids abusing it? And do you think artists should take some sort of responsibility?
Chamillionaire: I mean, that is a moral question. I can tell rappers not to talk about killing, but that is just the way you were raised. If that is your life, who are you to tell somebody to talk about something else? The whole syrup thing, its a craze that is starting to spread. I don't know who makes the numbers or statistics on how many kids are doing it compared to back then. I'm pretty such it is more popular now, because a lot of rappers pump it up. But I don't - my whole career, I have never sipped syrup. That is because I have my own mind and my parents taught me to have my own mind. So I think parents should raise their kids and everything will be alright. I can't change the world, like I said. I can't really put that on the rappers and say, "You have to raise my kids." That is just ridiculous.