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Among the celebrities who have admitted to bravely tapping their name into Google’s search engine is Reese Witherspoon, who said: “I know what I’m in for. You never read anything positive … You’re fat, you’re ugly, you’re tired, you’re worthless, you don’t have a career anymore, you’re a bad actor. It’s just an affirmation of every horrible feeling you have about yourself.” Though she admitted to such behaviour only during darker times, the web and anonymity has bred a playground for the cruellest of personal attacks, something that has been well documented. Then there are those who find themselves the centre of a death rumour – and they’re in a league of their own.
“People saying I died is totally ignorant,” says Howard Bailey, Jr., otherwise known as Chingy, when Forte queried his own death rumours. “They only said that ’cause they haven’t seen a video clip on the top 10 countdown or heard my song on the radio constantly. I think people like to create their own story of you in their story world an’ title you as they see fit. Doesn’t make it true though.”
Indeed it does not, but detractors will probably point to Chingy’s 2003 monster ‘Right Thurr’ to support their cause. His debut single, ‘Right Thurr’, with its up-beat tempo and summery feel, was one of those songs that hit at the perfect time. Soon it was filling the dance floor and blasting from car stereos, while every second person seemed to be doing their best ‘thurr’ impersonation. It finished the year at the #7 spot on Billboard’s Top 100 Songs of 2003. ‘Right Thurr’, along with its accompanying album Jackpot, also pocked him a $3 million first cheque according to an interview with DJ Whoo Kid late last year.
While those heights may not have been again reached, Chingy has been hard at work over the years since. His sixth album is No Risk No Reward, the follow-up to his 2010 independent album, Success & Failure. Prior to that was Hate It or Love It (2007), then a beef with label Disturbing tha Peace seemingly closed the door. It led to a time of soul-searching, which ultimately led to No Risk No Reward, an apt title for a man that could have faded away but still feels has a lot to give. “No Risk No Reward was a project that I was working on, but the name has changed several times. I’ve jus’ been paying more attention to my inner-self and figuring out how to better myself and judgement towards others and become a better being.”
A ten-year plus stretch since his debut has seen a lot of change in the music industry, and like his reflections on life that brought about his latest album, Chingy muses on an ever-changing industry that isn’t always for the best. “I’ve been in the music biz professionally ‘quote unquote’ for 10 years now so I’m an OG, ha-ha! I believe the music biz changed a lot far as social media goes and technology. Reason being is because now the music is so easier to get that the people don’t really look forward to your project dropping unless they’re diehard fans. Also, you have to keep up with posting things about yourself and getting very private with the world nowadays jus’ to have a connection with the people and to me that takes away the excitement of the artist.”
Part of Chingy’s newfound philosophy on life could be attributed to his Kemetian Sciences studies at the University of Kemetian Sciences. Founded by Dr Phillip Valentine, the Kemetian University encourages students to discover their true roots. More cryptically, at the University of Kemetian Sciences, “the mission is mastery, and the quest of mastery is the ultimate mission”, according to the University’s website. “I study Kemetian Sciences; it’s the original word for Egyptian,” explains Chingy. “If I weren’t a musician I would have prolly been into science or history or something of that nature. I’m real big on history and science, because in school it jus’ interest me to know what humanity comes from and how we operate internally.”
His studies, no doubt mixed with a little life experience, become evident when he speaks about his time in the game. “I’ve learned lots of things in this business, so I would say my content today is a lot more mature than usual, jus’ because my views on different subjects have changed and allowed me to see within and not jus’ on the surface of things.”
His self-growth becomes more evident still when he speaks about his previous label, Disturbing tha Peace. “I love and still support DTP; I don’t let business get personal, though some people do. Full Dekk [formerly Slot-A-Lot Records, founded by Chingy in ’04] is my label an’ we’re independent, but we work very hard an’ will continue to push hard whether we sell millions of records or don’t sell one.”
“For the future I jus’ wanna continue to make music whether it sells or not. Speaking of that, download Fulldekk Fullosiphy [a mixtape from ‘Chingy Jackpot’ and friends] on, along with my new single ‘Damn Girl’. I jus’ wanna live and continue to be filled with light in anything I do. If life takes me to the moon then that’s where I’ll be; if life provides me with another hit record that’s what it will be.”
With that, all there is to really talk about is Australia. “The Aussie crowd has always treated me with kindness! Every show since 2004 are always great an’ full of energy. I can’t thank Aussies enough, I love them to death … I love Australia and the people. The rappers are good – some perform at my shows when I come.
“Although, I will say I want to meet Santos Bonacci there one day. He’s a great free-thinker and philosopher. Great guy with great wisdom.”
We could all hope to be in such a good a place as Chingy.
When&Where: The Pier, Geelong – July 10
Written by Wylie Caird