NEW YORK — Chamillionaire has been called a couple of things in his day, from his own billing as "the mixtape messiah" to being labeled a "breath of fresh air" by critics and fans for the passion and devotion he shows to his craft.
But actor? Definitely not one of the labels being thrown around when it comes to Koopa.
In his new double-feature clips for "Hip-Hop Police" featuring Slick Rick (see "Chamillionaire Busted By 'Hip Hop Police' For Ridin' Dirty With Jay-Z, Dr. Dre CDs") and "Evening News" — which he premiered for media members last week — the Houston rapper dons makeup, prosthetics and wigs while playing multiple characters, Eddie Murphy-style. He chases himself as a crooked cop. He argues with himself as a bullying broadcaster. And he might just lock up a second straight Best Rap Video nod at this year's Video Music Awards with this twin billing.
"At first, it was kind of intimidating. I was like, 'I don't know if I want to do this,' " Chamillionaire explained of his conceptual videos from Ultimate Victory, due September 18. "I don't know how people are gonna receive this. I thought about it, and after talking to the director — I used the director Marc Klasfeld [Gnarls Barkley, Juvenile], because I feel like he's the kind of person that pushes the envelope in a little different direction — and when I started talking to him and building on what to do, I'm thinking he's not really gonna know much about hip-hop, but he knew more about hip-hop than me. He was just running down all kinds of stuff.
"So when we did it, I had to get up in prosthetics to be Bob O'Wiley, the character in ['Evening News']," Cham continued. "I was like, [to the director,] 'Well, it might need to be a black guy.' 'Cause I'm thinking about what people [are gonna say]. And he was like, 'When you push the envelope, you push it.' He was like, 'You know the stuff you're gonna say in this video, it needs to be a white man singing it. So you might have to get up in the prosthetics and be a white man.' I looked at everybody else, everybody was looking like [he nods his head]. And I was like, 'Aight,' and I did it. While I was doing it, it just felt good. Like, 'OK, this is gonna be dope.' It's definitely different."
And, according to Cham, the lead track, "Hip-Hop Police," is different than his breakout hit, "Ridin'," which also had a reference to the 5-0.
Both feature cop themes, but the latter was more literal, Chamillionaire said. "Hip-Hop Police" is a metaphor for those attacking the hip-hop community. With calls to clean up lyrics being made by Al Sharpton and town-hall discussions being held by Oprah, the rapper felt like all the heat on hip-hop has the music being looked at like it's a serious crime itself, rather than an artist's rendering (see "Hip-Hop Under Fire: A Video Timeline Of Controversies Over Rappers And Their Rhymes").
"Some people are like, 'Oh, he's got another police song,' " he said. "They don't even realize it's another meaning, like this song is not necessarily even about police. It's just deeper than that. ... So I said, 'I'mma make a song about that too.' "
Then he decided to make two videos about it too. And while the video may feature plenty of comic relief, Chamillionaire insisted the power behind the tracks are serious to him.
"I did [a video] for 'Evening News' and one for 'Hip-Hop Police,' and the reason why I put them both together and made like a mini-movie is ... because I'm thinking in the future, and a lot of stuff I'm saying is relevant now," Cham said. "Hip-hop is being policed right now. There's a lot of stuff going on crazy. ... I'll go in the studio with a lot of rappers, and they always got a lot of commentary on the industry, on how hip-hop is, and the record labels, and the war, and Bush, but then when it's time to do the music, our forum called music, don't nobody say nothing. So I'm like, 'Well, I'mma say something.' "