Earlier this week, Chamillionaire, still glowing from being free from the tyrannical grip of Universal Records, released Major Pain 1.5. Thursday afternoon, he was polite (or politic) enough to take a few minutes to talk about the tape.
The notes from the conversation and the tape are kind of long, so we'll skip the self-referential story that usually precedes these sorts of things and get right to it. Keep it moving, chumps.
#MajorPain1.5Notes The first song starts with some nursery-rhyme music playing in the background, the same way they use it in horror movies, with a guy saying, "Hey there little fellow. I know you missed me. Huh. You're a mean little fellow, aren't you? You hungry?" followed by a dinosaur roar that evolves into a beat.
The subtext there is pretty clear. If you're sitting there like, "Wait, so what does it it all mean?" go watch some Waka Flocka videos on YouTube or something.
#ConversationNotes When you're interviewing someone, they'll usually say two or three interesting or insightful things every ten or 15 minutes; it's easy to keep up with things if you're sitting at your keyboard. But with Cham, that shit is damn near impossible. It's pretty easy to tell that whatever he's talking about, he's spent a considerable amount of time thinking about, and that makes everything seem important.
#MajorPain1.5Notes Yes, there is a song on the tape called "Slow City Down." Yes, it is what you think it is. And yes, it is enjoyable. Go figure.
#MajorPain1.5Notes "To sum it up: There will be no Venom album."
#ConversationNotes There will be no Venom album.
#MajorPain1.5Notes Part of the reason Cham has been successful is because he's a) always thought bigger than Houston; while b) making no attempt to conceal that he's always thought bigger than Houston.
He certainly has songs in his arsenal that spiral back towards Houston rap memes, but there are more that don't. And that's why "Chandelier Ceiling," a choppy, sleepy, candied track produced by Big Krit, is so endearing.
#MajorPain1.5Notes There is lots of beat thievery on MP1.5 (Drake, Yelawolf and Trae, Nicki Minaj), but the most immediately and esoterically enjoyable is when he jumps over Em's "I Need A Doctor," switching the chorus to say, "I stay Screwed and Chopped Up." Neat, neat, neat. Bonus: At the end of the song, he takes a couple of swipes at XXL magazine for asking to do an interview with him about how, essentially, Houston sucks now.
#ConversationNotes "It's easy to trick people. I just Screw my voice a little and everyone's like, 'Man, this that old Chamillionaire.' It's the same me, people just wanna say that."
"We're only as strong as the network." This is the type of thing forward-thinking rappers say, by the way. More on that...
#ConversationNotes There were two questions we specifically wanted to ask Cham about and one that we absolutely did not want to. One of the ones we wanted to ask that was consequential: Is this the beginning of the next big mixtape series? The Mixtape Messiah series is among the more famous mixtape series in the history of Southern rap. Lots of people were sad to see it go.
This new Major Pain series, though, has the potential to (at the very least) be more commercially successful. That's part of why he called it "Major Pain" - it's an easier term to brand than anything that has the word "Messiah" in it.
There's no wasted movement with anything Cham does. Everything appears to have a larger purpose (even when it maybe doesn't), and that's what makes him so interesting critically. You can listen to and think about a lot of the music that he makes, piecing together everything into a great, big Cham puzzle.
Sportswriter Bethlehem Shoals once wrote that Carmelo Anthony thinks through offensive possessions like logic puzzles; you get the feeling Chamillionaire does too. And that leads to the question that we did not want to ask about, and hope that nobody ever does...
#MajorPain1.5Notes The last track is called "Wake up Outro." It starts with a commercial similar to the one that preceded Everclear's "Ataraxia" from So Much For the Afterglow, then is followed by 30 seconds of dead air, then is followed by 40 seconds of Cham's words being played backwards, then is followed by what appears to be a crank call to an animal boarding service about boarding a cougar.
It is a vexing, confounding, preposterous four minutes and 12 seconds tacked onto the end of a tape that's otherwise easy to dissect. What on Earth could it all mean? Does it mean anything? Is he dicking with all of the pseudo-intellects that listen to his music? Is it somehow related to Michael Jordan or finger-painting or AA batteries? Is the secret to the Stock Market hidden in there? Is the secret to Gucci Mane being famous hidden in there? What, what, what does the fuck, fuck, fuck it mean?
We were super-pumped that it didn't accidentally come up in conversation. The other day we went and ate lunch alone. We watched a man who was either a construction painter or an avid fan of wearing construction painter outfits toy with his iPhone for several minutes before getting up and walking out without ordering anything at all. He looked extremely focused.
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We were curious re: what was on the screen, but we did not get up and look because it was better not knowing. It was probably Angry Birds or some other dumb shit like that. That would've been very disappointing. This is the same sort of thing. Please, nobody ever ask Cham about this ever. Never. Not ever.
Thank you for your continued support. Please continue to send music to sheaserrano at gmail dot com. Download Major Pain 1.5 at Cham's Web site, and go back Monday to see a new version.