The city of Houston has owned Hip-Hop the past year. From the mainstream success of Paul Wall, Slim Thug and Mike Jones, to the overlooked releases of the Geto Boys and Z-Ro, H-Town is officially the newfound hotbed of Hip-Hop. But for all of its crossover success, the city has also been hit with its fair share of criticism. Excluding the legendary Geto Boys (of course), Houston's artists have quickly become pigeonholed because of their one-dimensional rhymes of - you guessed it - candy paint, diamond grills, fo fo's and boppers. (Feel free to insert your own Houston lingo) But for those thinking they have heard everything Houston has to offer comes the mixtape messiah Chamillionaire, who is ready to tear down such misconceptions.
As a veteran of the dirty south mixtape game, Chamillionaire has possessed a fanatical cult backing since his days running with Paul Wall and The Color Changin' Click. Now after years of grinding independently, Cham's major label debut, The Sound Of Revenge (Universal Records), is finally here. While he embraces the Houston culture, Cham is out to show a different side of Texas emcees. What immediately draws you into King Koopa's world is his distinct and intriguing voice, as well as his complex rhyme scheme, particularly the way he effortlessly changes tempos and styles. But beyond all the flash lies his ability to provide cunning lyrics and conceptual material rarely seen from today's crop of Houston emcees. This is seen throughout The Sound Of Revenge, as Chamillionaire proves that the South can indeed rap.
While the album's lead single, "Turn It Up," may give you the wrong impression, as Cham water downs his lyrics in order to strike it rich, The Sound Of Revenge is packed with substance. "Void In My Life" finds an introspective Cham looking inside himself and the world around him, as well as delving into his childhood being raised by his Christian mother and Muslim father. As Cham states, "Your father says he's a Muslim, Mother says she's a Christian/The Bible or the Quran, which one would you be pickin?" Cham continues to reflect on his struggles with "Rain," which features the legendary Scarface. Over producer Sol Messiah's sleek piano keys, the two form an immediate chemistry, which results in a gloomy but uplifting track. With the two aforementioned songs showcasing Chamillionaire's creativity, efforts such as "In The Trunk," "No Snitchin'" and "Frontin'" display his lyrical dexterity and hook making ability. Drawing comparisons to 50 Cent, Cham's knack for construction addictive and harmonized hooks sets him apart from his Southern counterparts even more.
Even though The Sound Of Revenge has a substantial amount of guest appearances, all of the collaborative tracks thankfully work well, as Cham effortlessly blends his guests into his environment. "Ridin" finds Cham and Krayzie Bone trading rapid-fire verses over Play-N-Skillz intense drums. "Fly As The Sky," which features Lil Wayne & Rasaq, and "Southern Takeover," with Killer Mike & Pastor Troy, are both fiery dirty South anthems that focus on providing solid lyrics (excluding Pastor Troy - obviously).
Besides the fluffy sounds of "Grown And Sexy" and "Peepin' Me," The Sound Of Revenge is an excellent album that lives up to the hype. If you thought Houston emcees were only concerned with flaunting materialistic objects, Chamillionaire is here to show you a different side. With concentrated attention towards lyrics, creativity and substance, King Koopa destroys the misconception of a Texas rapper. Revenge never sounded better.