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The Immersion: Chamillionaire Rides & a Hustler is BornPosted by Dharmic X on 07/26/12 | Filed under Opinion, The Immersion
Three days later, in that same classroom, the girl purchases a calculator from the same boy who sits next to her, oblivious to the fact that it was originally hers. The boy had sold the bus pass and the iPod (through a friend) separately.
Actions like this were pretty commonplace for me in tenth grade. Stealing and selling was an easy way to get quick cash and in the setting of a school it was much safer than dealing drugs, as long as you were careful. There was an underworld of thievery, and while people outside of this community speculated and suspected, many of us went undetected. It was the type of risk that I was instinctively adverse to as a child, and yet in my mind, I needed the money.
Songs like this fueled my greed. Looking back, I recognize that it was my mindset that inspired the music I listened to, not vice versa. I was drawn to the simplistic call of the song’s hook and motivational lines like “Only thing wrong with being broke is staying broke and making excuses ‘bout it like there ain’t no hope” because I could relate to its message. I allowed myself to remain comfortable with my choices by listening to the remix, which brought together the entire Texas hip-hop scene.
My introduction to the Texas hip-hop scene was of course the usual route for kids my age: from Chamillionaire’s first (and some would argue, only) single, “Ridin,” back onto the rest of Houston’s hit rappers like Paul Wall and Mike Jones. The first UGK album I ever listened to was also the last one before Pimp C passed away: Underground Kingz, and I was a fan of a lot of the songs on the project, such as “The Game Belongs to Me,” “Int’l Player’s Anthem,” and ironically enough, “Quit Hatin the South.” Pimp C’s verse on “Won’t Let You Down (Remix)” was easily one of the standouts on the track, using his harmonizing and switching up the flow to reel me in. Another standout verse came from an MC who to this date is still fairly slept on in Trae the Truth; his gritty, almost whisper-like delivery mixed with his rapid-fire flow contrasts with the more deliberate flows that Texas became known for during the heyday of the mid-2000s.
While of course, most of America fell in love with “Ridin” because it stayed on rotation at radio stations for months, even at the time it came out I saw the message behind it, something enhanced by the different regional remixes that came out (DJ Quik’s verse on the West Coast remix was dope, as was Papoose’s verse on the East Coast remix). I continued to follow Chamillionaire, with the result that I was likely one of the few to really check for his second album, Ultimate Victory. The album, despite failing to generate a single remotely as popular as “Ridin,” was a solid piece of work, filled with well-constructed political commentary, solid concept records (“Hip-Hop Police,” “Bill Collector,”), and above-average lyricism.
And of course, there was my equivalent to a hustler’s anthem.
One afternoon, I walked into an empty hallway and discovered a goldmine. Tucked into a corner was a pile of backpacks; the owners were practicing for track around the hall, out of view from the scene. I guess they never suspected that their property would be vulnerable within their own school building. I lingered at the pile for several moments, hesitating to make sure that it wasn’t too good to be true, that there wasn’t somebody lurking unnoticed. Not wanting to linger for too long, I hastily swiped a Coach clutch, which I sold to a girl in my class the next morning.
The synapses were firing on all cylinders, but the messages being routed to the brain all said the same thing: “get this money.” The warning signs didn’t reach me until it was almost too late...
(DJ Dharmic X is the host of This Culture Never Dies, 11PM-1AM Saturday on wnyu.org. Fans and haters, can follow him on Twitter and check him out on Facebook.)
See Also: The Immersion: Dead Broke and “Gutted” With Beanie Sigel