Though Chamillionaire didn't compete in the hotly contested 9/11 showdown between 50 Cent and Kanye West, he may have proven with Ultimate Victory that he is, in fact, the smartest of the three. As the old Chinese proverb goes: "patience is a bitter plant, but it has sweet fruit." Straying from the media frenzy, Cham conveniently sat at a week's distance to study the hype of last Tuesday, and it's inevitable anticlimactic breakdown. Let's just say a lot of people will wish they had saved up last week's Curtis cash for the Mixtape Messiah's latest offering.
Shifting Shapes, Changing Colors
Chamillionaire's ability to flip the switch from harmonizing with smooth intonations to attacking a track with his forceful vocals is perhaps his most alluring quality. "Standing Ovation," Cham's celebratory march, proves this point with ease. Ripping through a riff-heavy, trunk-bumping beat, Koopa acknowledges his talent and success, while managing to not over-do it. He knows he's good; likewise, he doesn't deem it necessary (unlike most of his peers) to hit listeners over the head with over-blown braggadocio. In fact, he proves that exact point by following up with "Won't Let You Down," an affirmation to staying true to oneself and staying motivated. His practiced breath control and slick rhyme delivery further prove to be a couple more cards up his sleeve, as displayed throughout. And while he conjures all the same ear-catching qualities he presented to us back in 2005, he still manages to craft a fresh-sounding follow-up to The Sound of Revenge.
For starters, Ultimate Victory offers plenty more political insight and discourse. While Revenge's key achievement was the resistant street anthem "Ridin," Cham steps it up and takes it to the political arena, sibling tracks "The Morning News" and "The Evening News" being two lead examples. Coupled with a pair of incredibly catchy hooks, Cham the newsman cuts through contemporary controversies and issues with harsh truth and authenticity. Not to mention he also brings back an old school legend in Slick Rick to further discuss his livid sentiments towards the "Hip-Hop police."
What sets Ultimate Victory apart from his Cham's debut is that he deals plenty with the qualms of daily life as well as the gifts and curses of success. He still knows how to keep it fun and light, though, as he follows up on The Game & Kanye's "Wouldn't Get Far," serving up some more tantalizing gossip with "Industry Groupie," and in the process dropping more names than...well, The Game. From T-Pain to Flava Flav, Cham makes plenty of hysterical references over this ambitious beat which samples the 80's epic "The Final Countdown" Europe. Speaking of keeping it fun and light, Cham further flexes his pimptacular vernacular ("game colda than a Pola") alongside Bun B on "Pimp Mode," for a mellow, Southern-fried slide down the country side.
A couple of flops present themselves throughout the course of the album, such as the appropriately-titled "Rock Star." The track aims too hard to replicate the sound of The Shop Boyz' summer hit "Party Like a Rock Star." It features Lil' Wayne, however, so it's bound to have its off-the-wall one-liners to make stans go crazy: "Compared to Bigfoot, you're just Twinkle Toes/ I'll get your girlfriend wet like wrinkled clothes/". "You Must Be Crazy" is another track that feels a bit out of place, featuring a sub-par stadium beat. Overall, Cham manages to keep the missteps to a minimum, a commendable feet for such a lengthy album. (Oh, and Cham scores extra points for leaving "Not a Criminal" in the cutting room floor.)
Welcome to the South
"This is my dissertation" exclaims Kanye West on Graduation, his recent album. Well, Chamillionaire's got a message of his own on Ultimate Victory, and he backs it up with some solid support. On "Welcome to the South," Cham defends his region with resolve ("Try to criticize us for how we live/ Then go do the same things that we just did/ Try to criticize us for how we spit/ Then say you respect the money that we get") while admirably acknowledging its faults as well: "Wanna criticize then? Fine!/ Say the South got simple rhymes/". The track is soon followed by the skit/interlude introducing up-and-coming Houston crooner Tony Henry, performing a heart wrenching chronicle of inner city blues over the lone accompaniment of the soulful flicks of an acoustic guitar. The poignant narrative smoothly slides into the subsequent collaboration with fellow Houstonian Devin the Dude for "Rocky Road," an uplifting message of guidance, promoting perseverance amongst struggle and diversity. The album is capped off by the title track, a glorious stride towards the finish line, as Cham proclaims to his fans: "Thank you for giving me the ultimate victory."
The Bottom Line on Ultimate Victory
One of the starkest comparisons between 50 Cent and Chamillionaire is that the two clearly present themselves as strong businessmen. But while the Formula 50 (pun intended) well has decisively dried up by now, Cham continues to seek new venues and ways by which to shake up the music world. 50 assumes the image of a super-capitalist beating a dead horse; Chamillionaire's methodology shifts and morphs as his moniker would suggest.
Essentially, it proves that while all the criticism directed at the South seems to be coming from the East coast, Cham's reply would simply be: "Hey, why don't you worry about YOU and step YOUR game up instead?" When it comes down to it, Ultimate Victory is not only a declaration of Chamillionaire's success over the past two years, but a triumphant representation of what a top-tier Southern artist can bring to the table: potent competition to anything the East, West (or anything in between) has to offer.
- "The Morning News"
- "Hip Hop Police" (featuring Slick Rick)
- "Won’t Let You Down" (featuring KC)
- "Pimp Mode" (featuring Bun B) [li["The Ultimate Victory"