By Roy Kasten
By Kris Wernowsky
By Chaz Kangas
By Joseph Hess
By Julie Seabaugh
By Mike Appelstein
By Rachel Brodsky
By Kelsey McClure
Never mind what your mama told you: Sometimes it pays to whine. Last week, as you may recall, we made continual moan about our failure to reach the elusive Chingy. Before the column even saw print, we scored not one but two face-to-face interviews with the local crunk wunderkind. Even better, we did it with no help at all from the dozens of fancy west-coast label flacks whom we hit up at various points during the months-long ordeal. Ever wonder why a CD that costs pennies to manufacture ends up costing you $18 in stores? Look no further than the painted, putrescent remains of the record industry, which resembles eighteenth-century Versailles in its extravagance, if not in its cunning. But we digress. What matters is that Radar Station asked questions, and Chingy answered them. Herewith, two Q&As culled from two visits with the 23-year-old Walnut Park native.
Radar Station first caught up with Chingy last Monday at the U. City Vintage Vinyl, which hosted a midnight CD signing to promote Jackpot, his splashy debut on Capitol/Disturbing Tha Peace. After signing hundreds of autographs, posing for countless snapshots and generally doing the celebrity thing for more than an hour, the rapper graciously agreed to answer a few questions while his entourage waited in the wings.
Radar Station: Do people outside of St. Louis make fun of your "country grammar"?
Chingy: They be like, 'Why y'all speak like that?' I just tell 'em it's how we St. Louisans talk.
What's Snoop Dogg like?
He's just laid-back and cool, like the pimp that he is.
Do you have a cramp in your hand?
You know, from signing so many autographs.
Oh! Naw, I ain't got no cramp. All I got is diamonds.
A gargantuan bodyguard appears and whisks Chingy away before we can ask him our burning questions about fatty-girl halter tops. Fortunately, we'd made arrangements earlier that evening with Chingy's producers, Sham and Zo (collectively known as Trak Starz), to meet the next afternoon for a longer interview in the lobby of the Ritz-Carlton. Contrary to all documented accounts of rapper behavior, Sham and Chingy (Zo was mysteriously detained) showed up at the Clayton swanktuary on time -- surely one for the record books.
Radar Station: How did you guys start working together?
Chingy: I wrote the lyrics to "Right Thurr" three or four years ago. We was sitting in the living room, listening to tracks, and that was the first beat on the CD. I go, 'I got a song that'll go right with that beat!' The song is just about women. I love women, so you gonna hear about it.
What's a fatty-girl halter top?
Chingy: Fatty Girl's like what the sexy girls wear. It's the Fubu women's line, I think. And there's the Ludacris song, of course.
What's the one thing people don't know about you?
Sham: I get wild when it's time to get wild, but mostly I'm just real laid-back.
Chingy: I'm shy. They portray rappers to be these wild guys, but if someone was to walk in here right now, only way you be able to tell we're rappers is the jewelry and the clothes. We don't go around rapping all the time. After we get done with the interview, get off the stage, we're back to being Shamar and Howard.
Some of the Vintage Vinyl employees on duty during your in-store said there were a bunch of women who came in last night claiming to be your baby-mamas. Chingy: Somebody told me that! That's not cool. I'm real careful. There's probably about 23 diseases out there.
But you know you've got a big female following, right?
Chingy:I learned this from the great Tupac: Make music for the women, and the fellas will follow.
What was the weirdest thing that happened to you at the in-store last night?
Chingy:Lots of women wanted me to sign their breasts. I told them I can't. They might take a breast-signing and turn it around and try to say I grabbed their breast while they were getting my autograph.
Are women always hitting on you, trying to be with you?
Chingy:Right now, it would be real hard for me to know if a girl really wanted to be with me. Especially if she calls me Chingy. If they like Chingy, who cares about Howard Bailey? It'd be real hard for me to trust her. She might be looking for a way out, and I ain't gonna be her way out.