Chamillionaire strays from typical sound

 Chamillionaire can bring it. Not only that, he can bring it in a heck of a lot of ways. Sometimes referred to as the “Mixtape Messiah,” the Houston rapper makes a strong major-label debut with The Sound of Revenge. In contrast to other Houston rappers, Chamillionaire doesn’t rely solely on self-promotion and braggadocio like Mike Jones or Slim Thug, or references to chains and cars à la Paul Wall. He‘s able to encompass all of these techniques to create a nonregional, versatile style.

Cham turned to Scott Storch to produce the album’s first single, the bouncy “Turn it Up” featuring Lil’ Flip, but it sounds like he might have tried too hard for a hit. The result is lackluster verses over a poor mixture of drum rolls and hand claps.

Cham is at his best on Revenge’s more soulful songs, like the piano-laced “Rain.” Southern legend Scarface is a great addition to the somber track, but Chamillionaire steals the show with lines like “Tired of being po’ yeah trying to leave the rats / Walk out to see three of your tires that be on flat / And that, one tire left a sign of hope / That helps you to keep on grindin’ when you kinda broke.”

He brings a similar smooth and downtrodden vibe to the spiritual “Void in My Life,” a song on which he also sings the hook. A major risk for most rappers, actual singing is a surprise strong point for Chamillionaire. On several of the album’s chorus is very reminiscent of Nate Dogg (the ultimate compliment).

While Cham’s versatility brings fullness to the album, a few songs are unfortunately degraded by uninspiring production. The overused, sputtering drums on “In the Trunk” and the synth-infused “Fly as the Sky” might have listeners changing songs before a bar is even spit.

While he may not be the best at selecting quality beats, Chamillionaire’s passion and hunger give a constant mood to Revenge ­— there is actually a meaningful intro and outro. His apparent dispute with Paul Wall led to a split from Swishahouse, the label that the aforementioned Houstonians call home. This might not be all bad. Chamillionaire is developing a distinct sound through a superb blend of conceptual tracks and club anthems.


Rating: 3 stars out of 5

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