*1/2 (out of four)
Remember Chamillionaire? The "Ridin' Dirty" guy? Well, he's back, and he doesn't even care if you call him "the 'Ridin' Dirty' guy."
See, Chamillionaire has returned in the worst way possible, harping on stale accomplishments with a half-assed, catch-all approach to the present. You've heard rappers say something like, "Ain't back ’cause I never left," but Chamillionaire most definitely left, and he sounds like it on "Elevate," his new EP. He even brings up "Ridin Dirty" a few times so you don't have to feel bad about saying, "Remember when ...?"
"Elevate" is supposed to be a hype-builder to "Poison," his full-length album due later this year, and a follow-up to last year's unnoticed "Ammunition" EP. From the very first drop, though, he sounds rustier than the underside of a hoopty. The Houston rapper fumbles a basic Andre 3000 flow on the very first lines, completely mucking up a bumping bells-and-organs Houston beat--exactly where he should sound most comfortable.
The beats are scattershot, since Chamillionaire tries a little of everything. He attempts to bounce with his roots, stomp on the suddenly resurgent trap sound, pseudo-croon on a slow rumbler, but little of it works well. He actually sounds best on "Overnight," whose clap-drums and pitched-up synths sound more 2013 than anything else on the EP and suit his rapid, rat-a-tat flow much better.
His rhymes are simply inconsistent, like the LOL-worthy "Going golfing in Iraq/ Going shopping in Dubai/ She be asking her man for gifts/ Then give me the gifts her man buy." He spends the rest of the time talking about endless amounts of haters and hoes, which is fine, but he even recycles rhymes within "Elevate."
While the production sounds great and Chamillionaire shows he can still flash a little rhythm, the whole thing sounds circa his 2006 prime. It doesn't help that he reminds listeners about it. "Overnight" and "Hold Up" try to force him into the present, but Chamillionaire can't stop looking over his shoulder.
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