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by Claudio E. Cabrera
3 November, 2006@12:00 am
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   Three years ago, we were all dancing to “Right Thurr”, leading Chingy to a multiplatinum plaque for Jackpot, as it seemed like anyone from St. Louis could do no wrong. But after that platinum plaque, things went downhill. Chingy left DTP in a nasty breakup that had him and Ludacris sending shots at each other for months.

     With his newfound freedom, Chingy dropped his 2nd LP, Powerballin’, which had the lukewarm single “Balla Baby”, but he left the casino penniless as it failed to, well, hit the Jackpot. 1 for 1 at the plate, let’s just say Chingy is going for the tiebreaker here with Hoodstar, and despite his new single with Tyrese, “Calling Me Back”, and the floor shaking drums on “Dem Jeans” (feat. Jermaine Dupri), it seems that without an affiliation Chingy isn’t the same artist. Think about it, when he was with Ludacris, he got a multiplatinum plaque. Now, that he’s with JD, he’s released one of the biggest songs of the year and has resurrected to a degree. Chingy proves with this album that he’s always capable of dropping a smash single, but can’t put an entire album together.

     The album is broken into two halves. The Hood and the Star. The first portion is dedicated to the streets and delivers with the bouncy, upbeat “Hands Up”, where Chingy gets gritty and talks about life on the blocks of STL. The sinister baseline and infectious drums on the inspirational bow-thrower “Club Getting Crowded”, produced and featuring Three Six Mafia knocks, but Chingy gets outshined by DJ Paul on the cut. Album standout and Poli Paul helmed “Cadillac Door”, featuring Midwest City, captures Chingy’s vulnerability with it’s silky guitars. Here, Chingy revisits growing up in the hood and how people shot down his dreams. “Who are you to judge me for my sins and what I did wrong? / I’m trying to live, don’t want my mama
singing that sad song.” Showing some versatility for the 1st time in three albums doesn’t last for long, as Chingy reverts back with “Nike Aurrs & Crisp Tees” which is puzzling as Nelly and Dem Franchise Boyz already covered these two subjects.

    The “Star” part of the album unfortunately doesn’t consist of star material. Other than the first two singles, tracks like the call to women to throw their “Ass n Da Aurr”, the Mannie Fresh produced “Brand New Kicks”, and “Let’s Ride” featuring Fatman Scoop, needed to be scooped right off the LP. Actually, a lot of the tracks deserve that distinction. Like most artists in today’s raplandscape, the beats outshine the lyrics, and there is no better example of this than Hoodstar. On the other hand, it sounds like other than JD, the list of top producers on the list must have given Chingy their throwaway beats, as most of them were lackluster. Did I mention he coined himself “The King of the Midwest”. After this piece of work, is he even the king of his neighborhood??

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