The Streets is Talking: Chingy

With the Midwest upswing in full effect, St. Louis-bred Chingy put his own stamp on the movement in a major way. His 2003 hit single “Right Thurr” and a Disturbing Tha Peace cosign made the rookie a one to watch in the coming years. Unfortunately, things did not play out as originally planned. Citing missing finances, Chingy cut his ties with Ludacris and crew; leaving folks wondering if the kid can do it again by himself. His follow up albums Powerballin’ and Hoodstar would put up respectable numbers, but failed to leave any lasting artistic impression on the public. Now with the beef squashed and a new deal in place, Chingy looks to set the record straight. The Streets is Talking series gets the real talk about the fallout, bumping heads with Nelly, and the DTP I grew up in The Bronx and I never been to St. Louis. Can you describe what the rap scene was like there when you were coming up?Chingy: The Hip-Hop scene in the ‘Lou back in the ‘80s, it wasn’t a large scene. You had very few people that rapped. People did the freestyle thing, but it was like a select few. A lot of cats were really into gangster music. It was a small circuit when it came to Did you always go by the name of Chingy?Chingy: Nah, I actually didn’t always go by the name of Chingy. My name back then was Slix-O. You originally running with Nelly and the Fo’ Reel Entertainment camp but made a move away from that. Chingy: Who, you talking about Cudda [Love] and them? See, what happened was there was another artist named Kilo...he did a six song demo, and I had the last song on his demo called “Knuckle Up.” That song was all through St. Louis. In ‘92 or ’93, I started doing a lot of shows to get my name out there. So around this time, I got a local CD with this group called Without Warning that consisted of two other members. I hooked up with my homeboy Ahmad, who happens to be Ali’s brother from the St. Lunatics. Me and Ahmad would be in the studio rapping back and forth and we decided to form a group to see how that would pan out. Around that time, Nelly and them were on tour. They were doing a lot of spot dates and they wanted us to open up the shows. I was never with Fo’ Reel Entertainment or Nelly on a label or nothing like that. Of course we were trying to push our music up there, but we were never officially on the label. [Later, when] I started working on my Jackpot album, I didn’t have a deal or nothing; I just started recording. T-Love and Nelly’s manager told me if we needed them to spit something to just holla, but they never got back with us. We sent the album to a couple of record companies including Chaka Zulu of DTP. So Chaka told me to finish “Right Thurr” because it was only the hook and a verse and a half on the song. I finished it and we put it on vinyl and we started getting some spins of it. This was in 2002. What was it like when you first hooked up with DTP? How much did Chaka and Ludacris input creatively on the first album? Chingy: Actually, that album was done when I brought it to Chaka and everybody. We just kind of recorded lyrics How did you get the feeling that the money wasn’t right over at Disturbing Tha Peace?Chingy: Let me tell you something, what led me to even put this thought in my head was this lawyer I had. This lawyer I had that I was working with for some reason he said that DTP taking money from him. He was acting like he could prove that they were taking money from me. So we had a meeting with Chaka and everybody and the lawyers. Everybody was cool, but the lawyer was making it seem like a problem. I think the lawyer was lying in the first place. Back then, I didn’t know the business side of things. Now I know better, but then I didn’t notice it. So I was thinking the lawyers knew what they were talking about even though in the back of my mind, I didn’t believe it. If you didn’t believe them why go ahead with the accusations?Chingy: I had a lot on my mind, and I just didn’t believe that Chaka or anybody [at Disturbing Tha Peace] would do me like that. So I kind of just distanced myself from everybody. I didn’t talk to anyone and distanced myself because I was confused. What happened after that?Chingy: Actually I found out that the lawyer that was working for me was lying because they were sending him the financial records to look over, and he would come back to me and say no one was sending them. So when I found that out, I found out that he was lying, period. He was just greedy. He was looking out for himself and that 5% lawyer fee he was getting. Was the relationship between you and DTP already soured?Chingy: Yeah, you right. It was already soured because of the lawyer. The only thing was it was all a misunderstanding because Chris, Chaka and me never really talked. One minute I’d be ready to talk and they might not be willing to talk, then they would be willing to talk and I wouldn’t be ready to talk. So it was going back and forth like that. And then it led on for like two years. When you did bounce did any type of corny stuff happen where you had to give back your DTP chain?Chingy: Nah, it wasn’t any of that corny s**t because I still have that DTP chain. I got a new one made, but I still got that one. So you record your second album Powerballin', what was your mind state going into that album? Did you feel the pressure of the dreaded sophomore jinx? Chingy: Well pressure busts pipes. The pressure was there, but I think I tried to overlook it. People expect a lot from you on your sophomore album, I just went into the studio making songs. The president of Capitol Records wanted to rush the album out. I was actually still working on the album. The only song I thought I would have kept was “Baller Baby,” but the president wanted to do things his way, and we just ended up throwing an album together. And that was that album was: it wasn’t no real direction because they wanted to rush it. So around this time you and Nelly have your words against each other. How did that situation get squashed?Chingy: I think that situation stemmed from that they had the chance to get with me when I was working on my first album but then me getting with DTP and selling three million records, they felt I should have done that over there. But you know I’m a grown man and I can’t wait on someone do to something for me, I got to do get it myself. Understood.Chingy: So a lot of people were hating and putting different things in people’s ears. That situation stemmed from muthaf**kers saying things and putting s**t in other people’s ears. Then there was a mixtape of me and Nelly going at it that me and Nelly didn’t even know about. That kind fueled things and people started talking. That made the beef become real. Based on your music, both you and Nelly don’t come across to me as to be “G’d up" at all. Was it that serious were both of you couldn’t be in the same club together or was it more just words?Chingy: It got real serious a couple of times when we went out and s**t was about to kick Can you get into that?Chingy: Like one time, I think sometime in 2005, it was after the BET Awards, I had a party with Juvenile. A lot of people were there. Nelly was in the V.I.P. When we got there, we heard he was in the party. We went to the V.I.P. on some bulls**t. It happened like that at a couple clubs like on some stupid s**t trying to take it to the streets. It was some bulls**t that I’m glad didn’t happen where someone ends up getting So it got tense a couple of times?Chingy: Yeah, I’m from the streets and the dudes that I run with weren’t taking that situation lightly. Nobody got whooped on though. It was going to something more serious than that. N***as weren’t about to whoop no one’s ass, n***as wanted to smash n***as. How did that situation with Nelly get smoothed out?Chingy: I went to Nelly’s house. He hit me up and asked me to come to his crib. So I went out to his house and we talked about it. I kind of took offense to something he said about me on one of his songs. That “I like the way you do it “Right Thurr”/ just remember why you do it “Right Thurr.” I took offense to it like he was trying to say he started my career or something when I was rapping before him in St. Louis, but he got on first. And I respected that. Going to Nelly’s house, did you ever feel like it was some sort of setup?Chingy: I didn’t believe it was a setup, but I’m always with a little something or whatever. I believe n***as wanted to really talk it out. There were some talk a year or more or so that 50 Cent was hollering to sign you or your Get It Boyz crew. Was that true? What became of those talks?Chingy: Actually, that was talked about. It started as signing the group or whatever he also wanted me and [Young] Buck to come together and do the G-Unit South thing. But I’m not from the South, I’m from Midwest. So I was like, "Buck can do the South and I can do the G-Unit Midwest." So that was something me and 50 [Cent] talked about, but we never got it done. What were your thoughts on Hoodstar a year after its release? The “Pulling Me Back” song I feel could have been a bigger hit for you. The same thing could be said for “Dem Jeans.” Did you feel the same way? Chingy: Yeah, that was a good record but Capitol [Records] didn’t follow through on the single. That was a big record for me for me, it was a number one record on radio for six weeks. Capitol [Records] put themselves in a bad place. After all of that, a lot them got fired. Did it get to a point you wanted to go up to the offices and beef?Chingy: Yeah, I went up there a couple times! They didn’t know what the f**k they were doing! Around this point my new lawyer got me off Capitol Records. Now I’m Disturbing Tha Peace/Def Jam, so it panned out real How were things patched up with DTP?Chingy: I was at the Billboard Awards last year we were all in the same hotel. Throughout all of this, we were never around each other to talk. At the Billboard Awards, we were all in Chris’ hotel room and laid everything on the table of what happened and how it happened. That’s how we cleaned everything up as men. Everybody still had love for each other. Outside of Ludacris and Bobby Valentino, a lot of the individual artists on DTP didn’t really do any big numbers, namely I-20, Shawnna, and Shareefa. Does that get you concerned going into your next release?Chingy: I don’t get concerned going into the next release. I just got to work and get out on the road for this record. I should be aight but the market too a hit What’s good with this album you working on now though?Chingy: The album is called Hate It Or Love It. I got Riahanna on this album, Rick Ross, Ludacris, Anthony Hamilton, Plies, Trey Songz, and some other people. It’s going to be a lot more harder tracks on this album and more lyrical content too. That’s a side that I felt I had to show on this album. I agree. Why do you think a lot of the public take you as not being street?Chingy: I guess because I’m not out there saying I got popped a couple times or waiving guns on camera or saying I’ve shot people. I’m a fly type n***a, I’m not trying to be the hardest n***a out there because I don’t even have to speak on that. I come from the hood like everyone else. I don’t trip off that s**t. I’m trying to get paper. [Laughs]