Facebook R&B crooner Mario has been relatively quiet on the music front for…
- Posted on Mar 16th 2010 4:30PM by Nick Flanagan
You're back on tour with Paul Wall. How does it feel? How did it come about, and does it feel different from your early collaborations?
I'm in Texas getting ready to meet up with the tour bus. About to go on tour with Paul Wall, so we're gonna load it up. It's something we've been trying to do for a while -- this time, we just made it happen. The timing was perfect. Both of us had albums coming out and a world to conquer. There are so many cities we have to travel to. We thought we'd start it off by getting some hype and excitement into this Texas fan base. Traveling and touring together is creating some excitement. It definitely feels different [than earlier in their careers]. Back then, we were young -- now we're all older with different crews, different ideals, different everything. We're definitely not the same. For the most part, it's pretty easy because we have the same goal: success. It's the common theme that each camp has, and that makes everything cool. We're both professionals, it's not like I'm dealing with some crazy people or anything like that. We get to venues and radio stations on time. That would be the main thing: if something jeopardized the tour, and we're not in danger of that.
As you get older, does your entourage shrink or grow?
I think with success, a lot of time it shrinks. Even if you get to success with a larger crew, eventually they'll shrink. That's just the law of the land. There are so many people around you with crazy motives that you just begin to trust certain people. Paul's crew is kinda small, and my crew is kinda small, too. That's part of the reason we're traveling on on one bus: We're not even taking two buses. I went on tour with Lil Flip, and we rode two buses. This time both crews are on one bus, so that's pretty light. I guess with time, you start to realize who you should really focus on.
How did you get started?
I was 17, 18, 19. We [Chamillionaire and Paul Wall] were promoting, passing out flyers. Next thing you know, we were rapping on freestyle mixtapes. It just started becoming more of a job that we were taking seriously, when people weren't really taking it seriously. It started propelling from there where we became actual artists and had vocal fans. At first, it was regionally, and it started spreading from there. We'd be going places and rapping: On our first mixtape, we just put out a rap and had no idea it was going to extend from there. I guess it was so good to the public that they started begging Michael Watts [of Chamillionaire's former mixtape label Swishahouse] to hear more. He hit me up and it went from there. You have a lot of people that rap, but most people don't have their peers and like everybody telling them they're good
Southern rap in the late '90s had a real toughness to it.
There was a demand for it because of the rebelliousness of it. Any rapper, you were scared of them or something. Nowadays, with the commercialization of it, the danger isn't there anymore. I don't know how dangerous you can be with Auto-tune. It's not that scary. Back in the day with Three 6 Mafia, 8 Ball and MJG, all these groups, it was hard-core street music, the beats sounded heavy and they were talking about drugs and murder and it really seemed to be common. Three 6 Mafia used to be really heavy with that type of stuff, but nowadays it's not the same. Last time I saw them was in L.A., in Hollywood. TheSouth has come a long way, man.
'Hip Hop Police' [from your 'Ultimate Victory' album] is a bit about people getting in trouble for "keeping it too real."
It's amazing how much people say on raps. People say it's just your imagination; but at the end of the day it does paint a picture about you, and whether it's true or false, I'm sure there are people watching. How many rappers are in jail now? I think the music only reflects the lifestyle. I don't think there'd be a lot of police looking to find crack on me, but if it's somebody who talks about that and guns all day, they might try to catch a burner on them.
How would you describe your sound?
I'm one of those people -- like a music connoisseur. I listen to so much and can draw from so many different places, hence the name. Whatever climate it is, I feel I can adjust. I know there's some people who'd like me to rap the way I did when I was 17, about my rims are bigger than my house, but when I see the climate adjusting, I can adjust. I can keep that flavor, but I add some new elements to it. I don't know what to call that -- I don't like to be put in a box. I don't like to be told that I'm just this, because I'm really not. I get that all the time. I could make a comment to somebody who was talking real slick to me, and then a girl will say, 'Wow, I didn't know you were like that." That annoys me: I can be whatever I want to be. I can be mad, I can be mean, I can be nice. I can adjust to the situation. When people say, "You just have to be this" – that's the problem with the world, especially in music.
When did you come up with the name Chamillionaire?
It was a while back – I got to the point where I'd done the Swishahouse freestyle, and I didn't want to be Chamillion anymore – I wanted to be Chamillionaire [a combination of "chameleon" and "millionaire"]. It started as a punchline, but I started rolling as Chamillionaire from that point on. Some people thought it was about money, but I felt it was because I was so dope at changing my styles -- the king of it. I used to make raps about "my car is so candy painted," but it got to the point where I wanted to diversify what I was rapping about because I was getting bored of that type of stuff. When I changed my name, I tried to sneak some other concepts in there. It means I've got a million styles. You gotta have some kind of meaning to it – if you ain't got no purpose, then what is your purpose?
What are some of your musical influences?
It was definitely a lot of Southern hip-hop, but then it became a lot of East and West Coast music. I'm definitely influenced by Jay-Z, 2Pac, Dr. Dre. To me, that was when music was in its purest form. It wasn't staged. I don't really dance, and music is really driven to females and dancing right now, so there's lots of music I don't appreciate because of that. I like stuff that is raw and rebellious, even though I don't necessarily make that evil, deadly stuff I appreciate it. UGK were the poster child of that for me. Scarface, the Geto Boys. They were being gangsta when it wasn't cool to be gangsta. Now gangsta is just a thing that everybody wears. It's so put together nowadays. It's an empty word. If a person is saying a bunch of stuff you can't believe, it's not going to have as much meaning to it.
What are your musical guilty pleasures?
I remember Kanye was quoted as saying he doesn't listen to rap a lot, and everybody thought, "How could Kanye not listen to rap?" There's so much stuff I can't relate to. Most of these songs are like, "Girl, do this; Shawty, do this." I can't listen to all of that, because I'm not a girl. I don't even listen to radio. I listen to R&B and alternative music – Sade, Hinder, OneRepublic, Maxwell, J. Holiday, Chrisette Michele. Stuff that's not rap. The best and greatest music is stuff that captures emotion. If you're a rapper and you're telling a story, you have to paint a certain picture that [conveys] emotion to the audience. Good music is that. Jay-Z did a song with Linkin Park – to me, that captures emotion. Nas and Lauryn Hill. Pac and Scarface --'Smile.' "Shake your booty' does not capture emotion for me.
Beatles or Stones?
That's a very good question. I know I'll say one and regret picking them and wish I'd said the other one. I probably know more about the Beatles, because when Michael Jackson bought the rights to the songs, I thought that was genius, so that's when I started going through a lot of their songs, trying to understand what was the big deal. I heard a lot of stuff that was real good, and it made me think, "Michael Jackson's smart!" Rolling Stones made some classics, too, and they're both two of the biggest groups of all time, but I know more about the Beatles.
What can we expect in 2010?
Expect a lot of content, a lot of visuals – a lot more videos this year. Quality over quantity. Sometimes you gotta keep up with demand, but I am focusing on quality. I want people appreciate the work I put out, and to put more thought into what I release. Twittter.com/chamillionaire, chamillionaire.com – that's the home base; you can find out about chats with me and tour dates there.