Chingy

Jackpot

St. Louis is the latest city to toss its talent into the hip hop ring, and its contender is pop-friendly rapper Chingy, a Ludacris prodigy coming into his own. Jackpot is the first release from Ludacris' label since its self-proclaimed "marriage" to Capitol Records, and, not surprisingly, the album showcases its new star's instantly familiar lyrical style. How familiar you ask? Let's just say that if I were Eminem I'd watch my back: Apparently, the A&R guys at work here have finally found their cheesier, more urban-friendly clone.

Like some kind of hip hop Speak & Spell, this brotha serves up hooks like flashcards. They're easy enough for even the youngest thugs to memorize and therefore certain to show up a few months down the line on a "Hip Hop for Shorties" CD, the kind advertised on Nickelodeon that's been sterilized for consumption by kids. Appropriately, the CD is chock-full of skits, a now-hackneyed trend that does more to distract from the music then complement it. The skit "Jackpot the Pimp," for example, is about as entertaining as a blind date with Rerun from What's Happening!!: At first it sounds funny, but it quickly gets annoying.

There are some high points, as you really can't help but dance to Chingy's songs. Tracks like "He's Herre," "Represent," and the ubiquitous single "Right Thurr" are delectably formulaic, despite the fact that the MC's elflike voice makes you wonder if someone is messin' with the record's speed. And "Holidae In" -- featuring what is quickly becoming a prerequisite for all commercial hip hop CDs, the Snoop Dog cameo -- is a sexy anthem perfectly suited for car cruisin'. But like so many of the other tracks, it is primarily an overproduced, radio-ready gumdrop rather than an actual entree worthy of space on the menu of legitimate hip hop.

 
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