HOLLYWOOD — He may have stepped out of the spotlight for a while, but Chingy wants fans to know he's still ballin'.
The St. Louis MC, who reaped multiplatinum success with his 2003 summer smash "Right Thurr" and his subsequent debut album, Jackpot, has been lying low on the music front since his sophomore LP, 2004's Powerballin' (see "R. Kelly, Janet Jackson, David Banner On New Chingy Album"), failed to garner the same success as its triple-platinum predecessor.
But with a fresh new disc in the works, Ching-A-Ling is ready to drop a new single that he believes will put him back on the map.
" 'All We Do Is This' is a song we're putting out there to put off the new album," Chingy said recently. "It's not gonna be the main single, but it's something we're putting out just to let everyone know that I'm still here, you dig. I'm still working."
For his forthcoming concoction, Hood Star, slated to drop as soon as February, fans can expect trademark Chingy beats infused with a harder, more mature sound, thanks to tracks by Timbaland, Pauly Paul and, of course, the TrakStarz, who produced his first LP.
"It's going to still be partyin' but [also] a little more serious, you know what I'm sayin'? It's dealing with some of my life issues that I had in my past," he explained. "And I'm calling my new album Hood Star because I am a 'hood star. Anywhere I go, every place I go, people recognize me and understand what I'm doing."
The 25-year-old has been feelin' the love, and he took some time out last weekend to give some back to a worthy cause. Chingy hit the stage at Hollywood's Key Club on Saturday night, with three bootylicious dancers in tow, for Hope Rocks, a benefit concert sponsored by the City of Hope to raise awareness and funds for cancer research.
"I always support something that has to do with helping the kids, and Hope Rocks deals with kids who have cancer, so I'm here just supporting the cause," he said. Rihanna, Frankie J, Natalie, JoJo and Jesse McCartney also performed at the event, which will be televised on FOX on September 3 (see "Jesse McCartney Seeks Help From 'Insanely Brilliant' Neptunes").
Chingy also recruited the talents of Mannie Fresh and Jody Breeze of Boyz N Da Hood for his upcoming LP. "Mannie did a song with me which is probably gonna be my second single, called 'Brand New Kicks.' It's all about brand-new kicks, new outfits and new whips," the rapper laughed.
Finally, the St. Louis native just finished shooting his big-screen debut, the indie urban flick "The System Within," in New York.
"[It's] basically about this dude that I kind of envy. He used to be on the streets, doing things [he shouldn't have been doing], but now he's trying to change his life. But his boss keeps conflicting with him about what he's doing, trying to bring him back on the street."
The film, co-starring Hawthorne James ("Seven," "Speed") and Bryce Wilson ("Beauty Shop"), is a fictional story about men who have been wrongly imprisoned under federal conspiracy laws. It's slated to hit theaters in the spring.