Almost two decades ago, Chingy took over the rap world with his debut album Jackpot. Containing hits like “Holidae Inn” and “Right Thurr,” the LP was proof that St. Louis rapper had an ear for hits, but perhaps one of the most underrated elements of his rise was his storytelling ability.
Even on a song as base level on the surface as the Snoop Dogg-featured Gold record is, it still had Chingy vividly describing everything about the party he was planning on executing: “Pulled up, stop parked, rims still spinning,” he raps on the song. “Valet look like he in the game and must be winning / To room 490 I'm headed, on my way up / There's three girls on the elevator like wassup?”
That storytelling ability carried his success beyond his first album and, eventually, to where we are today with his new EP Chinglish. The planned first of three shorter projects he plans to release in the coming future, the Friday (June 16)-released effort features eights songs, led by the single “Rewind Time,” where Chingy describes how he’d love to spend time again with friends and family who have passed away over the years.
The new EP has been therapy for Chingy, who recently told BET he just loves rapping and bringing his music to people who love it all around the world. During the conversation, he also reflects on Jackpot, past beef with Nelly and Ludacris, some of his craziest experiences and so much more.
BET: “Rewind Time” is your latest single and it’s a reminder that Chingy’s not just a hitmaker but also a spitter too…
Chingy: Actually, I recorded that single when I was on the first Millennium tour, which was in 2019. So yeah, I love making music so much, man. It's just like, when I record a song, I'm like, on to the next so quick. But then you want to go back and try to put some of that previous stuff out. It was just basically about friends and family that might have transitioned on that I would like to rewind time to see again and spend some time with and the lyrics are a little harder and that's just what I felt at that time and I literally did that on the road on the Millennium tour. I found a studio in Burbank, California, and went and recorded it, along with the help from DCM, who was the producer. My homeboy from Atlanta named T-Hood, who is credited with that record as well, he helped me with the hook. So yeah, I just love making music and whenever ideas come, they come.
BET: “Can’t Blame Me” is another single you released, but last year. Tell me about that one as well…
Chingy: “Can’t Blame Me” is a song about trials and tribulations and people, false rumors, people lying on me and me overcoming it and still doing what I love to do and standing strong. The video, I wanted to do it of me just kind of expressing myself on the mic with the Arch and the city in the back and keep it simple. Even when I say rich guys don't want to see you get rich, like I've experienced that. It's a lot of rich guys out here who still so competitive that they don't want to see the next man with anything because they still competitive and competition always causes division. That's why I don't really compare myself to nobody. I just do what I love to do. There's no reason for me to compare myself. I'm not trying to be better than the next person – we all are equal. We all have our skill set that's important. I'm just trying to do what I love to do.
BET: These are off your new EP Chinglish, which has a lot of energy – kind of has that classic midwest sound mixed with the south a little bit. Describe creating it and why now was the time to put it out?
Chingy: I'm gonna be honest with you, those songs are previous records that I just put together. So, like I said, “Rewind Time” was in 2019. The song with Twista “She Do It” is way before that. It's just a lot of songs that I pieced together for this project because over the years the name for my projects have changed. I remember I was gonna call an album, No Risk No Reward. I was gonna call an album Solar System. I had so many titles. Chinglish though, it just stuck and I always knew I wanted to put something out with that title. It's time to give the people some music, so let me put together a EP. I just wanted to put this out because I'm gonna put out two more EPs after I dropped this, and they’re already done.
BET: You’re slated to head out on tour this summer, hitting the US, and Canada, and even performing for the military in Guam, South Korea and Japan. How excited are you for that and what are you anticipating?
Chingy: Well, the Toronto performance is in Canada. That's with Nelly, Ja Rule, Rick Ross, T.I., Akon and Keri Hilson. So that should be very fun. The Armed Forces Entertainment Tour, which I did last year in I think January or February, where we did Hawaii and Alaska. So I got back with Armed Forces Entertainment, we're going to do Guam, Japan, and [South] Korea for the military. Everybody over there got to have some fun and party too while they handling their business. Hopefully that will stop one day with all of this war and all of this crazy stuff, but they gotta have some entertainment man. I's a blessing to go over there and just bless the people with some good music and entertainment. The music is a frequency of vibration and energy and this is what it's about. So I've tried to make good music people like and perform and it's a blessing. It's a great thing.
BET: Next month is also the 20th anniversary of your big-time debut album Jackpot. What were some of your best memories of making that album?
Chingy: It was a stretch in 2002 when I was creating most of [the songs]. I was in a two bedroom apartment with the producers and we was just making music. But what I can say is a really a cool experience is just getting Snoop Dogg on “Holidae Inn,” along with Ludacris, getting DJ Quik to produce his tracks and me working with him in the studio. That was fun. Just getting the experience going on a promo tour before the album dropped and a lot of those things because I really, really worked on it.
BET: What I loved about Jackpot overall is it’s a Midwestern album. You do hear a lot of that St. Louis influence in it. How did you come together with The Trak Starz to lay that background sound?
Chingy: One thing people don't really tend to give me credit for [is] storytelling. When you listen to “Holidae Inn”, when you listen to “One Call Away,” when you listen to “Pulling Me Back,” when you listen to these records it’s storytelling. Even “Right Thurr” is storytelling. I'm not just rapping. I'm telling the story of what's going on.
We weren't trying to create a different sound. We was just being us. It's kind of hard to say we were trying to create something sound wise because we really weren't. So when [Shamar "Sham" Daugherty] would put the track up I would just lay down what I lay down in the way that I do it. I just came together so good with us as my style of lyricism and this style of production. It just matched. St. Louis was heavily heavily influenced by musically the West Coast and party music that had that swing – the snaps, the claps – we was influenced by that. So when you listen to a lot of Chingy, or even when you listen to Nelly, you hear that.
BET: When “Right Thurr” blew up, what was your initial reaction because that, along with “Holidae In” and “One Call Away,” had you on top of the world at one point?
Chingy: Well, if you know me you know that I'm a humble, down-to-earth guy, and I don't take nothing for granted. With that being said, it was one point where they was telling me I was selling like 90,000 records a week, and I was just like, Okay, cool, and just go back to what I'm doing. I appreciated it, but I didn't over appreciate it because I knew that at any minute it could be gone. But I enjoyed it. I appreciate everybody that played a part, and when I knew it was really big, is when I just started seeing the number one videos, number one records. I knew then it was over the top at that point, because I'd never experienced that.
BET: “Right Thurr” was even in the opening scene of Netflix’s Don’t Look Up. That’s crazy too…
Chingy: It was unexpected. I didn't watch the movie because I knew about it, I watched the movie and heard it come on like, Damn! My song in there. So that was just pretty cool. It’s always cool, man when people still appreciate that good music. I was excited.
BET: I’m not huge on trying to ruffle anything up from the past – and you were brought out at a Nelly show earlier this year, so that was dope to see – but looking back at those beefs with Nelly and Ludacris, what is your attitude toward what happened now that almost 20 years has passed?
Chingy: Everything just saw Ludacris on tour with Janet Jackson. I just was hanging out with him on the tour bus when he was here. So everything's cool. Nelly, same thing, I had a show with Nelly about a week ago, and I always have shows with Nelly and I'ma see Nelly again in Toronto. So it’s all love, it’s all good.
BET: What was your most memorable performance from back in the day during that peak?
Chingy: I would have I would have to say when I was when I did the Rock The Block tour in Australia. My first time going to tour in Australia. I was on tour with Ja Rule. It was a huge tour and it was great man. I had so much fun. It was my first tour overseas. And I felt like Michael Jackson – the women was crying and chasing me. It was just great. I used to date this princess from Bulgaria. Like we were friends and I met her over there during that time. Yeah, it was crazy.