Last updated: 01/07/2010 11:00:00 AM
Some kids grow up wanting to be famous. Some want to be rich. Chingy is living both dreams.
The St. Louis rapper broke through in 2003 with his debut album, the triple platinum Jackpot. Anchored by smash single "Right Thurr," the acclaimed collection also included two other hits: "Holidae In" (with Snoop Dogg and Ludacris) and "One Call Away."
Chingy builds off his strong foundation with PowerBallin', his second stellar album. Recorded primarily in Chingy's home studio, the high-energy collection features top-tier production from The Trak Starz and David Banner, as well as up-and-coming beatmakers Keith McMasters, Vudu and The Beatstaz.
"This PowerBallin' album is basically a celebration of my coming from nothing to have a little bit," Chingy says. "It's about me accomplishing my goals and my celebrating that. I'm also talking about what went on after I made the Jackpot album, the success, the downsides of the business and just flossing out here and getting money."
Lead single "Balla Baby" captures that life. Over a slick piano and drum-driven beat from Keith McMasters, Chingy good-naturedly boasts of his big-balling, shot-calling existence.
"I thought the chorus sounded good with the beat," he says. "I already had the raps, so I just laid the chorus down. It's about being a baller and living the top-notch lifestyle and it goes along with the title of the album, so it all coincides real well."
The lavish living theme extends to the edgier "26's," which features guest vocals from Lil Wayne. Chingy got the idea for the song while listening to the Cash Money Records catalog. "This one reminds me of one of Juvenile's old songs," he says. "It took me back to his song and I thought Lil Wayne would sound good on it, so I called him up. You've got a lot of people that make songs about trucks and rims, but this song is about riding and your wheels are so big that you can roll over another car."
Elsewhere, Chingy returns to one of his favorite places, the hotel, on the sensuous "Leave Wit Me," which features guest vocals from R&B icon R. Kelly. On this club-friendly song, Chingy raps about his smooth approach with the females, while R. Kelly follows each Chingy verse with a soothing serenade of his own.
Then, on the romantic, Janet Jackson duet "Don't Worry," Chingy expresses his love for and dedication to the lady in his life over a smooth soundbed from The Trak Starz, who also delivered Jackpot's third smash single, "One Call Away." "I like your style, your grace/Your beautiful face, your essence," Chingy raps with a gentle touch.
Chingy then turns to the streets on "Fall-N," a posse cut with his long-time friends the Git It Boyz. "It's definitely a street record," Chingy says of the energized cut. "You've always got to get that crowd and make the streets understand that you're making music for them."
Chingy knows the importance of targeting the streets. Growing up in St. Louis, he saw plenty of edgy and rough situations. But, in most of his music Chingy chooses not to dwell on the negative that sometimes greeted him in his native Walnut Park section of the North Side of St. Louis. Instead, he maintained a deft balance of the streets and school before deciding to dedicate himself to rapping.
By the time he was eight, Chingy was a mainstay in St. Louis recording studios. Recording came naturally to Chingy, a life-long music fan. "I love the sound of music," he says. "I grew up listening to Michael Jackson, Marvin Gaye, the Tempations. Music made me think, and party. I wanted to express myself like those artists were. Talking on a record sounded like a good idea to me."
Chingy felt it was such a good idea that he started recording as much as possible. He became a studio rat, almost taking up residence in recording houses. His dedication to his music paid off when the songs he recorded before he became famous ended up becoming the backbone for Jackpot.
"When I made Jackpot, that was just me in the studio just coming up with music every day," Chingy recalls. "I'm a partying, fun person. I like to go out, have a little fun and that album is basically about partying and having fun."
Expect more of the same with PowerBallin'. Still, Chingy's fans will be able to tell that their favorite rapper has grown since he's become a superstar. By tracing his path to stardom, Chingy delivers another sizzling round of feel-good music with PowerBallin'.
"I think it's better than my first album," Chingy says. "I'm pretty sure everybody's going to like it. I appreciate making music and giving it to the people."
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