Recently released from his apparent stressful situation with Universal Records, Chamillionaire brings his wisdom over to AllHipHop to talk about the situation. The
AllHipHop.com: First and foremost, where have you been these last three, four years?
Chamillionaire: Really, just dealing with the same type of stuff that a lot of artist deal with on record labels and that’s control and creative criticism, and all the stuff that most of these artist are going through. You know, you’re trying to make a project and I’m trying to make a project and do it my way. Then I got all these people in suits coming in telling me, you know you got to do it this way and you got to make this type of pop song, and you got to do this and it just got to the point where I decided I didn’t want to do it no more. So I was like you know the best thing to do is to not release music really and just kind of chill out. I been doing other stuff and then eventually I was able to get out of contract with Universal and the freedom to be able to release music how and when I want too.
AllHipHop.com: I understand. Of course you did parted ways with Universal Records. What finally filled the cup and caused you to leave?
Chamillionaire: It was just so much stuff man. I was just looking at other artist situations and I just didn’t want to become one of these artists that’s just bitter and just complains about the label. I hate that! I hate to see people making excuses about labels and complaining “my labels not promoting me.” I didn’t want to be that person. I just wanted to be able to gain control so I could actually put out music. Somebody else would be like, “Well why don’t you just do what they say?” Or “Why don’t you just start making pop music?” Stuff like that.
At the end of the day, these fans they’re going to blame you when things go wrong. The majors are going to blame you when things go wrong. The music you put out should be a representative of who you really are. So, I believe that I don’t care what type of what music you do; you should be putting out music that’s real to who you are. I don’t care if it sells or not. At the end of the day, you’re the person who has to live with it and I didn’t want to do a lot of the stuff they were saying because it just wasn’t me. I’m not Justin Timberlake, I’m not Justin Beiber, Justin is nowhere in my name. Now that rap sales are falling, the majors are trying to turn rap into pop music and I don’t do that.
AllHipHop.com: Since you’ve been gone, how do you feel about the game now? What kind of advice do you have to some of these new cats out here, signing these deals and stuff they may not be aware of?
Chamillionaire: I mean it’s cool at first because, what happen is the label comes to you because you create a certain amount of energy. Somebody like Wiz Khalifa or any of these artist that start bubbling up, they create an amount of energy and the label comes in and say “Hey I want to help you with your vision.” And that’s cool. That’s always good when they’re trying to help you with your vision but, then once it becomes successful, everybody wants to take credit for your vision. Then they come in trying to tell you how to do your vision and that’s when the problem comes in. So a lot of people these people haven’t reached that point yet, you know what I mean but it does happen. Once you become successful and you start winning awards and Grammys, everybody comes in telling you how to do it now. They’re not listening to your vision anymore. Even the biggest artist has to deal with it. Power struggle.
You’ve got Jay-Z who had to buy his album back. It doesn’t matter how big you get. I don’t have a problem with any of these new artists that are coming out. I love how Wiz Khalifa just came into the game with his own lane. But the problem becomes when everybody else see’s it be successful and they start copying. Like I know I’m not the only person seeing this right now, you what I mean. That’s what’s up! I don’t think fans should even allow people to do that. You have to have your own lane and you have to give the public your version of you. Don’t try to copy somebody else and mimic them. If T-Pain comes out and he starts winning with auto-tune, I love the way T-Pain sounds with auto-tune. I think he sounds good with that, that’s his lane. Then everybody else copies and we just allow them to do it. Where is the originality?
Every rapper should be slapped that does that. Stop copying! That’s crazy. That’s what makes it wack! When everybody’s making the same thing and just chasing what’s hot instead of… Is money that valuable to you that you will just take all your integrity and just throw it out the window? That’s crazy to me. I made a lot of money in this game, but I did it not trying. I wasn’t so in love with it that I would just do anything like some of these people would just do anything. It’s crazy to me.
"At the end of the day, these fans they’re going to blame you when things go wrong. The majors are going to blame you when things go wrong. The music you put out should be a representative of who you really are."- Chamillionaire
AllHipHop.com: So I guess we can say, for a lack of better words, that basically you’re kind of bored.
Chamillionaire: Nah, I’m actually not. I’m happy now. I’m really happy now because now I can add my own different taste of what I feel. I think Nipsey Hussle is dope. He might not be the biggest artist but I think he represents his culture, his west coast sound and he’s authentic to who is. I like that! I think Big K.R.I.T. is super dope. He might not be the biggest artist ever, but I couldn’t work with him without somebody telling me, “Oh he’s not at the top of the charts.” When I worked with Krazie Bone, I messed with Krazie Bone because it was just this feeling his melody gave me. It had nothing to do with whether he was hot or whether he was on the charts, because at the time, he wasn’t and we made good music. I think that’s what it all boils down to, just making good songs. That’s what I want to do. I become a lot happier when I’m on the stage. At one point, I remember being on Universal, going into a session. Keep in mind, I’m in my own session, and they’re telling me, “Oh we’re not done with the song yet Cham.” I had to leave my own session and wait for them to finish the song for me. What is that about?
AllHipHop.com: Yeah, that’s not cool.
Chamillionaire: Well, when it gets to the point where I’m not making my own songs, it’s like I can’t do that.
AllHipHop.com: You mentioned Nipsey Hussle. He’s actually on the first song from the playlist “Poison Joint.” How did you guys connect out of all the freshmen ten cats? Also, what inspired the song? Sounds like the end result of your split from Interscope.
Chamillionaire: I guess it was just a song that represented the moment honestly. We both had done work together. He supposed to be on something they was going on the album and because I had to part ways from Universal, In order to get free from Universal, the deal was I couldn’t use any of the music. Imagine recording for a whole year -- and then you’re so passionate about certain songs -- and then having to just toss them. So I’m like, “Man this is crazy.” So, I was like, “Okay, so we got to do something else.” I just wanted to do something that kind of fit the moment. Nipsey, he was dealing with his situation with his label and I think he was having problems with trying to get off to. It was just the perfect fit. Like I said, not necessarily who’s the biggest pop artist is at the moment, but who fits at with the moment or what the song is trying to convey.
It was just perfect; it wasn’t like I was chasing him because he is a freshman making some noise right now. It just fitted when I heard it and we did it. We just blasted it out as the first release from my playlist “Poison” series, and it’s getting a lot of good reviews. That’s what I plan to do; just keep on leaking music to the public that I put my stamp on and that I think is dope. After enough of that, I think I would have gained enough confidence in people to where they’ll be like, “This dude Chamillionaire needs to drop a new album.” The main thing I tell a lot of people is there’s a big difference between a whole bunch of people on twitter begging you for an album and a globally demanded album. There’s a big difference between those. A lot of artists get it twisted when everybody’s on twitter hitting them telling them they want their album to drop. It’s only a few at the top of the game right now getting it for real, for real, like real money… real sells. You got your Drakes, your Kanyes, your Weezys, your Nikki Minajs, and everybody else is at the bottom trying to get to the top. In my opinion.
"The only way you could be your own boss is when you’re completely independent. If not, then you’re going to have to answer to somebody because those are the people cutting checks."- Chamillionaire
AllHipHop.com: Venom is not going to come out. Universal sealed the deal on that and you can’t touch it. Explain to us where you were going with that project. What are some of the songs that stood out?
Chamillionaire: The album went through so many different phases. At first it went through kind of more of a street/commercial type of album. Where it was like not too street, but wasn’t too commercial either. It was kind of a good balance between that and then it started going to a stage where there was this one song they were trying to put on almost sounded like a straight Pop/R&B album. I was thinking about the title like, “Man we can’t even put this on there.” That’s why I kind of went to a point where I was like, “Man I didn’t even want to call it Venom anymore” because I just felt like the music that was on it wasn’t representing what I wanted to do. As more and more records they started putting on near you know. Like even that record “Good Morning,” that record came out, which did very good when it came out. First day it went to number one on the rap charts and on iTunes.
I don’t necessarily think that song was representing the title you know. So I was going through battles trying to think about changing the title. So it just made me look so indecisive, where fans were like, “Man what the heck is Cham going to do? Is he going to drop the album? Is he going to change the title?” It’s all because when you’re making an album and you think of a vision in the lane that you want to hit, and then you try to attack it, but then they just started changing it so much. I don’t think Universal even knew what they wanted! They were just telling me so much and mean while, I’m just spending all this money that I’m going to have to owe back. So I was like, "Man I’m not going to do this and i don’t want to necessarily start talking about individual songs because i know i already talked about some of them and the fans keep on bugging me telling me to released them. I don’t want them to get so excited about something I’m not going to put out. You know, I’m not mad at universal, I’m happy that they let me out. So because of that I’m going to honor what they said and I’m not going to leak the songs. Like i could just go back to being the old me and leak the whole drive just because but I’m not going to do it you know. Anyways they’ll probably do something with it if I do. Probably try to make some money off of it and I don’t want that to happen and so I’m not going to leak them.
AllHipHop.com: There was supposed to be an unreleased Pimp C track. Was it going to go on that project?
Chamillionaire: Yeah it was a track that was going to go on there, and it was produced by Pimp C and features Pimp C. He had a hook on it and I took his hook off and made a new hook because I wanted to make… you know a lot of times Pimp C records are so raw that he’s super talented, but the records always stay underground a lot of times because he’s cursing and it’s just so raw. So I wanted to make a record -- one of his records -- a little bit bigger. So I felt I did that. And I just felt so strongly about that record, like I just love it. His wife had gave it to me and then his family was going to make money off of the record. But then I came into the problems with the label. I just decided to give the record back to him and I gave the record back to him. I didn’t want Universal making all this money off of it when I put out and I’m not even with them no more. They wouldn’t even let me like own the record, so I just gave it back to his wife.
"Somebody like Wiz Khalifa or any of these artist that start bubbling up, they create an amount of energy and the label comes in and say “Hey I want to help you with your vision.” And that’s cool. That’s always good when they’re trying to help you with your vision but, then once it becomes successful, everybody wants to take credit for your vision." - Chamillionaire
AllHipHop.com: Wow. There’s no way you can go around that? Since you gave it back to his wife, is there a way she could re-give it to you and you could go about it a different way?
Chamillionaire: We tried to think of every way possible (laughs). For all the records. I was thinking all kinds of slick stuff. But nah, not really man. You got to just play the game, it is what it is you know. When you’re on a major label, I don’t care who you’re calling boss, you always got a boss. I don’t care who you are! The only way you could be your own boss is when you’re completely independent. If not, then you’re going to have to answer to somebody because those are the people cutting checks. It’s time to be my own boss!
AllHipHop.com: I would guess it would be safe to say that you won’t be leaning towards any other major deals right? How are you feeling about your current situation? Do you want to be major and stay independent?
Chamillionaire: Nah, nah, I just want to do major things, that’s it. I’m not thinking about a major label. Immediately after the news got out that I got off Universal people started calling me instantly, trying to get me to do calls and stuff. I believe that I know a certain level that I think I can reach. I know there’s enough content that I have. I can make a drive full of content and release all this content to where your buzz will be where you need to be. Then you can dictate where you want to be. Reaction dictates what you should do. Like if you’re throwing out a hundred songs and nobodies reacting to them and nobodies love them, then you probably shouldn’t drop an album. I’m not saying that’s going to be my take, but I know I can get to a certain level without any help. I’ve done this before, before a major came on. I’m not one of these people that you can just dangle a check for whatever hundreds of thousand dollars over me and I’m just going to run and jump and keep trying to catch it. I could do good myself.
So that’s how I feel. I feel like all of us made artist, we get on major labels and we complain all day about everything they do wrong you know. They steal money from you, they charge you back, they don’t promote you or whatever, and there just doing everything minor. The budget is shrinking and then we complain and we get away from them and then we go right back to them. That’s like if it’s an abusive relationship that you’re in and the person is beating you and you keep complaining and then you get away from the person and you keep going back. That’s your fault. So I’m not going to be that person, I don’t care about people standards or what’s popular or what’s cool or what success is. I know what success is to me and that’s what I’m going to do. I’m gonna put out a lot of music. Am I going to make money off it? Yeah I’m going to make money off of it. In this age where people just throw out content and put it on all these websites and they don’t even know how to make money off it. I think i do know how to make money off of it. I think I’m going to make money off of it. Even now where people don’t even pay attention. They don’t even realize how much I was making off my website alone. I never even gave my website to Universal. Before I even shut down my store I was making over sixty-seventy thousand a month, just off of selling mix tapes. There’s no way nobody can tell me that I can’t get it. So I don’t want to ask for a hand out, I want to do it myself. And then everybody can talk to me later.
AllHipHop.com: What type of response do you have to get in order to feel content enough to be like “Okay, I’m going to drop an album?”
Chamillionaire: I just know when the water is warm. I just want to warm it up first and get to where I need to be and get a lot of more material out there so I won’t be hearing the same conversation about “Aye man it’s been a long time since you dropped something.” The next conversation there going to be saying having is “Ah man, I got all the last songs you released.” That’s what I want and when I get to that point, then I’m going to kind of let everyone know what I’m going to do. I kind of have it in my mind now, but I’m not going to tell everybody the chest move. I got something planned and I think it would be pretty big. I’m going to try to pull it off and I think that we don’t have to go through the same means. I don’t have to get a loan form Universal; I could go to a different type of bank. I’m going to pull off some different type of things, and I think anybody that’s in their mind trying to count me out, needs to really pay attention. I’ve been doing a lot of research and I just think that I’m going to do some things that take some risk that people wouldn’t necessarily take, but I think they will work out. But in the meantime, along the way I’m going to make money so I’m okay. I still move the same way. I’m still going to the Grammys and I’m still doing everything their doing.
AllHipHop.com: Only difference is you’re not held down.
Chamillionaire: Yeah and I released a lot of videos too. And then the main part, overall man we doing this, you could make as much money as you want. If you’re not happy, then nothing else matters. When you’re around people that are back stabbing you and their crabs at the bottom of the barrels and their trying to keep their jobs and their blaming stuff on you, it’s just not a good environment. When their gossiping and all this nonsense. I‘ve been in offices standing in front of somebody and their talking bad about David Banner. David Banner comes in and now he’s their best friend. Their talking bad about Nelly, now he’s their best friend. Then their talking bad about him again. I can’t hang around people like that. I don’t like that. So I feel better not be around the type of environment because the music industry, the major industry is like that all day. A bunch of people that are trying to keep their jobs and they’ll do whatever to keep them and say whatever. If we were in the streets things would happen a lot differently. In that world, they do that all day. Some people can deal with that, but I don’t want to deal with that. I don’t want to be around that.
AllHipHop.com: You talk about the streets and I know you’re strongly opinioned when it comes to “the realness.”
Chamillionaire: I’m just looking at the game and just seeing all this stuff happening with most artists. I’m not sitting here trying to act like I’m just you know, God’s gift to rap or some kind of saint or something like that. I just think everybody needs to be careful. At the end of the day, I go to so many other different worlds. I go to the tech world and I see these people that make a lot of money, they invest in money. They do so many good things with their money. They stay out of trouble and in our world we get our money and we do all kinds of crazy things with it, we get in trouble and sometimes you only get one shot at life you got to take this stuff way more serious. When I see these people getting these beefs for whatever websites or whatever radio DJ, it’s for the dumbest reason. It’s a lot of money out there let’s get it and let it grow. It don’t need to be no hating, that’s one thing I do, even know people do be copying and copying people all the day, their sounds at least their love showing. Like if somebody gets in everybody kind of shows them love -- like Wiz Khalifa, everybody showing him love right now.
Even Rick Ross. Look at everything he went through. Gucci mane too. I remember a time when everybody was saying Gucci’s name. You couldn’t even bring his name up. They’ll talk about him so bad and then all of a sudden he started putting out so much content and he started getting hot and now everybody forgot about all of that. That’s it man. Just get money man, and just do the right thing with it. I just mind my own business and stay in my own corner and out music for my fans because honestly that’s all I’m really worried about. Is making my fans happy and then growing that fan base, everything else does not matter to me. I’m not here for no gossip, no gossip websites, I don’t post videos on Worldstar with my gun in my pocket. I don’t do none of that. I’m just getting money man that’s it.
AllHipHop.com: I don’t know if you look at mix tapes as the same process of making an album, but can we expect the return of the mix tape messiah anytime soon?
Chamillionaire: I am dabbing at the thought of doing something with real beats. I like to do stuff on real beats. I think I put out a lot of stuff in my career that jack beat, which is cool, but if you count my albums, I have two major albums and then I have an independent album with Paul Wall. That’s only real material that I had for me and it’s not that much if you think about how long I’ve been doing it, which is over a decade. I could have been rapping on real beats and putting a lot of that stuff on iTunes and just have way more content. Do you remember when Lil Wayne turned it up when he had got Sqad Up in the coupe and they just started putting out mix tapes, song after song and just started reinventing himself? I feel like I’m at that point right now, where I actually could do that. There are some people out there that might have this perception of Chamillionaire because they only heard of “Riding Dirty.” They never heard all the other stuff that my fans I heard and loved it. It’s stuff that’s ten times [31:12]. They haven’t heard that so now it’s time to turn it up and start releasing more of that content. So by the time I’m done everybody’s going to be like “Yo have you got this mixtape or this song?” So yeah I’ll probably do mixtapes but it’s not going to be the same way.
I don’t want it to be stuck in the same way that I did them jacked beats. It’s going to be a newer way of doing it, we got to think of some new ideas, we have to reinvent. I can’t keep doing the same song over and over. I will never try to make “Riding Dirty” ever again, never. When you’re in a major system, they want you to make that song again. Forget the song, let’s try to create some new stuff. You got creators, people that are creators like say Kanye, that’s why he is one of my favorites. He always comes back and reinvents himself. He’s on autotune this time, he’s on some Hip Hop stuff this time, he’s all over the place with it, but every time, he comes back to reinvent himself. That’s the way it’s supposed to be done, it’s supposed to be spontaneous and keep people excited. Not keep selling them the same thing over and over. That’s the way I look at music and that’s the way I love music. That’s why like Jay-Z and people like that are dope to me. One time he’s doingAmerican Gangster, next time he’s doing Blueprint. Understand you got to switch it up, you can’t keep giving me the same thing. One time he’s in a baseball jersey and the next time he’s in a suit. That’s the way it’s supposed to be. It’s supposed to be some kind of variety. How many different labels we got? How many different majors we got? Why they all selling us the same thing? When T.I came out with that song, where he was singing? “You Can Have Whatever You Like.” How many people came out and tried to copy that song? Came out with a song just like that? That’s just crazy to me. I just be watching like, “Man that’s lame.”
AllHipHop.com: As you transition yourself and give us something new and different, are you’re still going keep your in touch with fellow Texas artists and collaborate?
Chamillionaire: I’m just going do whatever inspirations take me too. Just whatever is new. I’m gonna be on something new. Sometimes inspirations don’t lead me in that direction. Like, I got this record I am about to leak with Big K.R.I.T. and I never done anything with Big K.R.I.T. before but it’s just dope to me. I never worked with him so if I would have been wasting my time being like “Hey you got to keep on doing songs with the same people you been doing songs with,” then I never would have done a song with him. I never would have done a song with Nipsey. I never would have done a song with The Clipse. I never would have … you know what I’m saying. You got to kind of switch it up, as long as you’re putting out dopeness, people would get it. That’s my goal.
I think even now after I got off Universal, I’ve been doing kind of a lot of talking to get the word out because people are still asking me when Venom is coming out. I’m just trying to let them know it’s not coming out and then I’m going to be quiet and put out a lot of music. All the talking, all the videos blogs saying I’m going to do this, people don’t care they just want to hear music. In my opinion, Look at Kanye, he coming right back with another one, that’s the way it’s supposed to go down. Forget all the interviews, all the talk. Who cares? I don’t be caring about all of that; I just want to hear music. It’s a lot of people out there that think like me. People can say whatever they want about Rick Ross, he did that. When he was coming out with the album he dropped, a whole bunch of jamming songs, and then he dropped his videos and everything. I think 50 back too, 50 can be that. He does a lot of interviews and he’s entertaining as hell when he does his interviews. If he released a whole bunch of music, what can anybody say? That’s what I’m on.
AllHipHop.com: See, we need you to work at the record labels of these artists ‘cause uhh…
Chamillionaire: Somebody even ask me about hiring me as one. I was like you’re crazy, I will be your worst nightmare. I will be in there like, “Nope that sucks,” all day. I got this unfiltered truth button. I can’t hold it, I just blurt out the truth. Somebody told me that’s like a Sagittarius thing. I don’t know what it is, but it just happens like that. So they wouldn’t want me there. I would be saying too much craziness.
AllHipHop.com: That’s what we need though. What are your last words for Hip Hop?
Chamillionaire: I just know I’ve been working on something’s behind the scenes for a minute and I think it’s something that will be able to show a lot of artist how to make money. I think that’s the reason why so many people get artist to do with ever because were all chasing that dollar, that dollar that they dangle above us, everybody’s chasing it. I’ve been working on something that I think will successfully show artist how to get their own money. Music people, content creators, anybody that they can get their own money, to their own pockets and when I have it ready I want to give it to the world. Anybody that wants it, you know what I’m saying. I think it will be very valuable so everybody just needs to pay attention, but that’s another conversation. When I’m ready with that then I’m going to give that to the world.