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Ultimate Victory (Chamillitary/Universal Motown)

Wednesday, Oct 3 2007

When did mainstream rap become more relevant than its underground counterpart? Talib Kweli and El-P released self-congratulatory pap this year while Kanye West's sincere, introspective effort sold 1 million copies in its first week. Now we've got Chamillionaire, whose Ultimate Victory is perhaps the most topical album ever, and although what he's saying doesn't always make sense, it's usually hilarious. On "The Morning News," Cham raps, "Rosie O'Donnell and Donald Trump stay arguing about nonsense/ They'd treat me as good as Hugh Hef if I had a mansion full of blonde chicks/ If adultery was a felony, then Clinton would be a convict." Later, on "The Evening News," Chamillionaire references Don Imus, Virginia Tech, and Anna Nicole Smith in the same stanza. Along the way, he celebrates getting rich, selling mucho ringtones, and traveling to foreign countries. But his nerdy, charming style makes you forgive the braggadocio. Chamillionaire is also the rare rapper who avoids beef, and here he name-drops or features just about every emcee imaginable. (UGK, Slick Rick, Krayzie Bone, and Lil Wayne make appearances). While nothing on Ultimate Victory is as infectious as Cham's 2006 track "Ridin'," the album's understated beats let his likable flow sparkle.

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Ben Westhoff


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