By Jena Ardell
By Brian McManus
By Chaz Kangas
By Sound of the City
By Peter Gerstenzang
By Katherine Turman
By Chris Kornelis
By Brian McManus
In his liner notes, the Missouri rapper whose name imitates the ring of a slot machine thanks those responsible for his rapid reversal of fortunemainly his executive producers, Ludacris and Chaka Zulu, as well as his production team, the considerably talented Track Starzbut there's no mention of the catalyst for his big break. It was Nelly's outrageous success, though, that put St. Louis's arch on the rap map. He also let Chingy set it off nightly while touring the college circuit during spring of last year.
Chingy was quickly signed to Luda's and Chaka's Disturbing Tha Peace label off the strength of his radio-ready arrangements, and 5,000 copies of "Right Thurr" were pressed up and distributed to radio stations down South, where the single blew up like a man smoking at the gas station. Then it got thrown into the laundry at Urban and Top 40 and MTV and BET, and moved steadily up Billboard's charts, topping off at No. 4. The single's bubbly, synthed-out beats, stick-and-move masculinity, teeny-bopping delectability, and delight in its own regional slang and drawl owe everything to Nelly's "Hot in Herre." "Right Thurr" SoundScanned 156,000 units its first week, and is emblematic of an album long on sound but short on substanceor St. Louis specifics. There's a song called "Represent," with Tity-Boi and I-20 doing shout-outs to places across the nation, but Chingy's not repping where he came up; he could just as well be from Atlanta.
So he hits the "jackpot" for sure, but his pimp leitmotif sticks to the most superfluous aspects of the life. What is life without the frustration? Celebrating joy without pain, success without struggle, yin without yang, Jackpot feels hollow. After his bottom bitch breaks her luck on "Right Thurr," it's the Track Starz that save Chingy from going out like a chili pimp. Their rich, dense layers mack tracks like "Gettin' It" and "Holidae In" with a synthesized kick and snare; the former features an irascible flow vaguely reminiscent of L.L. trying to live without his radio, while the latter boasts a hypnotically lazy hook from Snoop and some easy, sleazy bars from Luda.
"Madd @ Me" is the album's most nuanced track, with a reworked chorus from Mase's Neptunes-produced "Lookin' at Me"; what Chingy lacks in emotive content he compensates for with style. The tricked-out, penetrating beat percolates beneath his brash, hyper-alliterative riposte to all the herbs playa hatin' beyond the velvet rope. But Jackpot's final cut, featuring Jermaine Dupri and Trina, falls short. The Southern scene is on some next shit when it comes to remixes these days, but the only thing remixed about this version of "Right Thurr" is the lyricswhich are aight, but the original is overexposed enough to necessitate a reworked beat as well. Trina sounds like she's got a headache and is about to turn over and call it a night, and why is JD still rapping? He should literally be writing checks. As for Chingy, the MC sounds like he's overlooked that the game is to be told, not to be sold.