Born and raised Howard Bailey, Jr. in St. Louis, Missouri, Chingy emerged out of the Midwest and at the forefront of hip-hop when he unleashed his debut album Jackpot in 2003, which came with his smash Billboard Hot 100 hit “Right Thurr,” leaving his indelible mark.
“[Chingy] was a saying that me and my relatives used to say for people with money. You know how somebody would be like ‘Oh, they ballin?’ or ‘they are getting money?’ We just added a ‘y’ to the ching.”
But, out of all the songs he’s released over his decade-long career, Chingy’s unequivocal favorite is the ninth track, “Don’t Worry,” from his second studio album, Powerballin’, which features vocals from none other than pop empress Janet Jackson.
“Michael Jackson is the reason I wanted to entertain, and that's the closest thing to [him].” The 40-year-old had a fun story to share about how the collaboration came to be. “I remember being in the studio and the front desk [receptionist] called into the studio like ‘Chingy, you got a call on line one.’ I pick it up and here is this soft, beautiful voice saying ‘Hey Chingy, it’s Janet.’ I was damn near about to piss on myself,’’ he recollected. “I was like, ‘Janet Jackson!?’ She was like, ‘Yes, I really loved the record and I’m gonna do it.’”
Now, at 40 years old, Chingy is gearing up to release his first studio album, Crown Jewel, in nearly 11 years on July 31. The song that best describes his 2020 is James Brown’s iconic anthem, “Say It Loud, “I’m Black and I’m Proud.” A lot has been on his mind lately but the late soul legend’s iconic anthems reminds him of who he is.
“Lots of stuff going on today but you gotta be proud of who you are,” he explained. “Racism needs to end. It should’ve ended a long time ago. There’s no reason to be upset with someone because they are off a lighter hue or darker hue than you. That’s why it’s called humanity...We gotta get it together out here.”
It’s a sentiment that’s embedded in his forthcoming album, which Chingy described to PEOPLE as a “conscious project.” Keeping things cryptic, the rap artist hasn’t revealed much about the 11-track project. Earlier this year, Chingy made his foray into the country music scene with “The Woah Down” with Meg & Tyler, but all will not be revealed until the album drops.
Ahead of its release, Chingy connected with his fans on BET Digital’s 106&Park Mic Check to dish on some of his favorite memories from over the years, including cooking in the studio with DJ Quik. He also answered fan’s queries about his thoughts on the upcoming presidential election, his childhood crush, and more.
Chingy is back.