Pros: Good balance of social commentary and gangsta rap.
Cons: No obvious single means album will probably be overlooked.
Bottom Line: Chamillionaire establishes himself as the best of Houston's new generation of rappers.
Combining a plain beat with lyrics about racial profiling, Ridin was an unlikely No. 1 single. Instead of following a radio formula, it was a song so good, radio had to play it. Chamillionaire became an uncommon rap star — famous not for a big name association or a memorable gimmick but his music.
His follow-up Ultimate Victory is unwilling to chase success. "Tell the world that I'm more than just a grill/If that's all you hearing, then let me just be for real/Take your contract, to hell with a record deal." Eschewing big-name producers and forced collaborations, Chamillionaire sticks with the classic Houston sound: heavy bass lines, dramatic instrumentation and slowed-down beats.
As a result, its the rare mainstream rap album that flows easily from start to finish. It doesn't hurt that he's an incredibly gifted rapper, with a smooth flow that effortlessly harmonizes within the beat. Where rappers often sound silly merging singing and rapping (Ja Rule), his vocal range makes it seem natural on Standing Ovation.
Most impressively, he has the lyrical versatility to rap about hoes (Industry Groupie) and haters (Welcome to the South) while also offering biting social commentary: "Every time I talk about Katrina, they look at me like it's a misdemeanor/Anyways, there's way more important stuff that we can discuss/'N Sync, Makin da Band and Milli Vanilli have broken up." He's so lyrically talented you'll never notice that he doesn't curse once on the entire album.
And though Ultimate Victory might not have another Ridin, it's the type of album that builds a long-term fan base. Blindly following the hottest trends won’t reverse rap’s sales decline. After all, while Still Tippin made his Houston contemporaries (Mike Jones, Paul Wall and Slim Thug) stars first, Chamillionaire seems to be the last one standing.