You don’t even have to say his name and most likely – when you hear his voice – you’ll already know who he is.
His song “Right Thurr” inspired dance moves, and other tracks like “Holidae In” and “One Call Away” are happily burned into our memories. Chingy has built a massive fanbase since his 2003 debut, but after attorney mishaps and various disputes, we started hearing less and less of him on mainstream airwaves.
Well, Chingy is back with new music and much more on the way.
“Can’t Blame Me” – out now – is the first single off his upcoming album Chinglish.
HYFIN caught up with Howard “Chingy” Bailey to ask him where he’s been and what’s been up.
The following interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
Kim Shine: Chingy. How’s your day going so far? How are you doing?
Chingy: How’s my day going so far? Actually I hit the gym. When I wake up, that’s the first thing I do. I go hit the gym, and I get my workout in, if I’m not traveling; depends on that. If I’m home and I ain’t traveling I’m studio or something, you know, jump the studio, be creative for a minute, do some running around or whatever business or whatever I’ve got handle.
KS: Wait, what kind of stuff do you do in the gym? Because I’m really tiny. I’ve been tiny my whole life. So, I like to do weight training and stuff like that. Like don’t give me cardio, give me weights, you know?
Chingy: Yeah. I do. I do some weights. I do yoga. I do mobility training, flexibility training. I used to kickbox.
KS: Oh, really?
Chingy: Yeah. Some years ago as a hobby, I wasn’t trying to get into a serious and be a UFC fighter but I kickbox, just something I was into.
KS: It’s kinda everything to just get your peace?
Chingy: I meditate as well, though.
KS: What has meditating done for you? Cause you’ve been in music for a long time and, I feel like, in any industry that you’re in stuff stresses you out. So, how does meditating help you?
Chingy: How meditation helps me, it creates inner stillness within. It just brings the mind to, you know, when you’re dealing in this marketplace — which is what I call the world — everything’s a product today. So when we go outside and venture into the marketplace, it could be a lot going on. It’s a noisy, it could be, a noisy existence. And so, I like to go within. The meditation helps me calm the mind and bring stillness to my inner.
KS: Yeah. And in the times that we’re in, just in general, we really need a lot of calmness, inner peace, just reflecting, you know?
Chingy: Yes. We, we sure do. It’s a little crazy out. A little wild.
KS: And you know, I guess that kind of goes into my question about your single “Can’t Blame Me”. Because to me, when I read the lyrics the vibe goes back to when you were, I don’t know – ’04, ’03 – just kind of that sound. But the lyrics themselves, they’re a little bit deeper and, to me, it seems like you’re going into your inner self and thinking about everything that’s happened and you’re reflecting on all of that. Can we chat about that?
Chingy: Yeah, we can chat about that. You know what’s funny? When you say that sound, go back to that sound. Like, I think when people associate me, my voice and my sound, they just think about when I came out. Because, like for instance, it’s a dude who commented on the “Can’t Blame Me” video. He was like, Chingy, you just sound like you. I guess he wanted me to sound like somebody else in this newer generation. These artists can tend to sound the same, and so I don’t know if people associate me and my voice with – they do – when I came out, but they want me to sound like somebody out today, but I can’t do that. You know what I mean?
KS: Right, right.
Chingy: Because the sound of “Can’t Blame Me” is just as current as anything that’s out. I think my voice is so known. My tone is so known and so me, people just say, ‘oh, give it that 2000s sound’ when really it’s not really a 2000s sound. It’s just, that’s when I came out. And like I say, the music is just as current as any artist’s song that comes out today. And a lot of people do that. A lot of people say that, like I heard a lot where artists that came out in the early 2000s when they dropped something new, a lot of people would tend to say that “2000s flavor” even if it’s not. I think we put a date on music and a date on artists so much that we gotta, it’s a limitation.
KS: I definitely don’t disagree with that at all. I definitely don’t. Cause like, each era does have its own kind of style and its own kind of sound. But I don’t say that as a slight.
Chingy: Oh no, I didn’t take it like that.
KS: Fantastic because when I hear you, I hadn’t heard ‘you’ in a while. And so to hear that and to be able to say, ‘oh my gosh, this is Chingy’. I remember Chingy. It reminds me why I love Chingy. You know? So, I feel like hopefully that’s what most people are talking about.
Chingy: I have a distinct voice and that’s what a lot of people tell me and when they hear me, they know it’s me.
Chingy: So, when this guy commented, I guess he wanted me to sound like somebody else, but I told him, I was like, you know what, what you said, that’s exactly what I’m doing is not trying to sound like nobody. And I’m glad you said that I sound like me, the guy that commented, but “Can’t Blame Me” is definitely about trials and tribulations. It’s definitely about, uh, fake rumors people trying to sabotage me and my career and just backstabbing individuals who pretend to be a friend in your face and really behind your back they foes. And so, I’ve been through a lot of that, been through a lot of the ups and downs. And then I have to separate myself from these people. I don’t deal with these people no more and I’m saying you can’t blame me. You know what I mean? And we all go through that in our existence. I’m pretty sure you’ve went through that where you’re dealing with somebody, you were friends with these people, these people stab you in the back and you know, do all this dishonest stuff and you just like, I’m done with that person. I don’t like that energy. I’m getting away from it. And so that’s pretty much what “Can’t Blame Me” is about.
KS: And so not to go back into everything that’s happened in the past, but in dropping this single, what are you hoping to say to those people? Or are you saying I’m done with it, this is a whole new chapter? Or are you kind of reminding them? I haven’t forgotten…?
Chingy: With dropping this track, what I’m trying to get across, actually it’s just a personal track. I’m bringing the fans and bringing people into my personal space because the track is real personal. That’s why I even did the video with just me rapping on the mic. And so it’s real personal. I’m just bringing those, the viewers into my world in a personal space Cause some people tend to think, they listen to “Right Thurr”, “Holidae In” and all these songs, they don’t think that I go through stuff. They don’t think I have emotion and that I don’t feel stuff. And I do feel stuff.
I’m just like the everyday individual who’s dealing with existence, you know what I mean? Going through stuff. And so, I’m just bringing them into my world, on that level. What I want for people to get out of it is for people to innerstand the struggle, innerstand the trials and tribulations, innerstand that the lies, you know, with people trying to condemn my character for their rise. Trying to cause my demise for their rise. And I just want people to see that.
KS: At this point, do you feel as though you have anything to prove?
Chingy: No, never. There’s nothing for me to prove. You know what I mean? When I was born, when I came out in 1980, I wasn’t born to be trying to prove myself to nobody but myself.
I’m not trying to prove nothing to nobody. You know? I had a goal. I had a dream as a little bitty kid. That’s what I wanted to do. My focus ain’t never been on the next person, what they got to say about me and me caring about what the next person got to say about me. I live for me and mines and do what I love to do. All that criticism. It just don’t matter to me because they’re not living my existence. I’m living my existence. And I also tell a lot of people this, I also innerstand the polarity of ‘like and dislike’. Just like an individual, like me, the individual that dislikes me I’ll still treat the same because I innerstand that polarity.
KS: So tell me what makes you happy these days? Favorite food, you know, what makes you happy? What makes you smile outside of creating music for your fans?
Chingy: Uh you know, watching my daughter smile, kids smile, you know what I’m saying? Appreciating my children. Just being. I’m very simple, this is what people gotta innerstand. Less is more. I’m very simple. When I wake up in the morning, I’m happy with breathing, you know what I’m saying? I’m happy with just being. I’m not one of those individuals that have to feel like I gotta have all the material possessions to be fulfilled. It’s just not who I am. So, I’m happy waking up and breathing and just continuing to do music. And what I love in that, in the entertainment music field, I’m good with that. I’m able to travel and go perform for people. I’m able to go to these different places and I can’t complain. You know what I mean? I could, but don’t nobody want to hear that.
KS: And then you don’t need to focus on that kind of stuff.
Chingy: Yeah. No. And, and totally don’t need to focus on that kind of stuff. You know what I mean? And so, uh, I’m happy waking up just being, and doing what I love to do and breathing, you know, real simple for me.
KS: Well, and part of your whole career, and your probably continued trajectory, is dropping words and just adding words to our own personal dictionaries. You kinda know where I’m going with this…
Chingy: Chinglish. That’s why my project (album) is called “Chinglish”. I just took English and made it mines because of how I talk.
KS: Right. Cause nobody else talks like you.
Chingy: Yeah. No. And so people like to tend to think that I kind of coined talking like that and you know, that’s just how we talking in St. Louis. Everybody in St. Louis don’t talk like that. It’s the people that come from the hoods, the people that come from the ghetto, how we were raised and how we say things, you know what I’m saying? And so how I talk I write it that way. And I, the terminology is just Chinglish at this point.
KS: So I saw on the cover that Chinglish was a noun and then it had like the dictionary entries.
Chingy: Yeah, yeah. You paid attention to that. That’s what’s up.
KS: Are you going to be introducing any new type of words to us or any new type of different ways to speak?
Chingy: It’s just gonna be what you hear. The same old, which you heard from Chingy. But, as far as the album goes, Chinglish, I got some cool records on there. I got this song called “Kundalini Love”. Kundalini, which is the rise in energy from the base of the spine to the crown of the head to reach enlightenment through the ida and the pingala, as far as the energies go, the masculine and feminine energies rising up to come to enlightenment. It’s all astro theology.
KS: And it sounds like something I need to read about. I’m interested, though.
Chingy: It deals with the seven endrocrine organs, which are the seven chakras and the little vortex energy centers and how to activate them. But it sounds like I’m talking about a woman. It has like this Indian vibe, this meditational vibe, but it’s a great record.
KS: I like that.
Chingy: It’s a great record. Also, I got a song called “Balling” on there, but not balling in a materialistic aspect of flossing and materialistic stuff. It’s kind of spiritually balling, spiritual currency. And so I’m talking about stuff that I’ve been through and how it has brought me to mystical, spiritual enlightenment.
KS: I noticed that with “Can’t Blame You”, because, I may misspeak, but, you said “Christ Word” or something in there.
Chingy: I say, ‘We all got thug in us little dirty, but I’m just ‘C’. And that don’t mean Chingy, that’s Christ’s mind. Now pay attention since you still in your price mind, Christ mind.’ Christ mind meaning enlightenment, wisdom. I’ve become to a certain wisdom and I’ve surpassed ignorance.
KS: Obviously life brings you to certain things, but was it a certain point in your life where you decided, ‘I want to learn more about the spiritual realm’?
Chingy: Actually, as a kid I’ve always been mystical. I’ve always been this way. I was always that little kid looking up at the sky in the star, constellations, sun, moon, earth, looking like, what is this? Like, why is it here? Why am I involved in it? What is this? And so I just went on a journey to try to innerstand the concepts of existence and my place and everybody’s place in it. What do these things mean? And that’s what led me on the journey. And I’ve always been that little kid. It just got intense to further go on the path and the journey as I got wiser, meaning older.
KS: Awesome. Going back to your singles. So I say this all the time, and I know sometimes people from Milwaukee, they hate when I say this, ‘cause I say it so much, but I’m from Chicago.
Chingy: Chitown right down the street.
KS: Yes. And I like Milwaukee. It’s great. But I did notice that you have Twista on one of your singles.
Chingy: Yes, I do. Shout out to Twista is a legend. OG legend, still doing his thing. He’s just as current as the next artist here today. That song, “She Do It”. I produced that and I wanted Twista on there. So, it’s like a little dance record, strip club type of vibe, club type of vibe. You know what I mean? So something to dance to. When I got Twista on there, he killed it. But yeah, I produced that.
KS: Are you going as fast as he is? You matching his flow?
Chingy: He’s at the end. I got my own distinctive, melodic flow on there, which is good. But Twista, you know, he do the tongue twist. He did his thing on there, so it’s a good match. And, actually the next single I’m coming out with is called “Dat Good”. So if you like “Pulling Me Back” this is this type of record.
KS: You can’t even ask. Like of course everybody loves that.
Chingy:Awesome. I also produced this record along with, co-produced by my homeboy Fresco Kane, who’s actually singing on the hook and who produced “Can’t Blame Me”. And so yeah, we’re about to shoot that video in a minute. But yeah, if you like “Pulling Me Back”, you’re gonna like this record, “Dat Good”. You know I always gotta do something for the ladies, something intimate for the ladies.
KS: I definitely was going to ask that because you have your fun tracks, but we (women) love the slower ones. We love the ones where you’re speaking to us and, and you’ve got that great R&B singer on the hook. I don’t know how you feel about R&B now, but it’s all over the place. When you mix it with hip hop, it’s just, it’s all over the place.
Chingy: Well, I’ll say this, I think R&B now has been kind of, like real R&B singers, you hear ’em singing and everything, but people like the rapper that does the autotune singing, that’s kind of considered R&B now, which not to me, but that’s kind of considered R&B now. Not knocking nobody, but that’s kind of what they consider R&B now. If you’re not using autoune doing the singy rap, you know what I mean? Then, where the real R&B at? I don’t know. I know the real R&B singers are out there.
KS: Yea, it kind of molded into each other for a minute.
Chingy: It needs to be unmolded. We need the R&B singers to do the real R&B singing.
KS: I’m pretty sure people like Tank, his generation, they’ll really appreciate that. I know, even though he’s kind of taking a break, but I’m sure they’ll appreciate you saying that.
Chingy: I mean, yeah, it’s real singers out here. You know what I mean? So here’s the thing, I come from an era where growing up, doing music, sounding like somebody, you couldn’t do that. That just wasn’t cool. You could not go around people trying to sound like anybody else. You had to be distinct, unique, outcasts. You had to have your own thing. And also same with R&B singers. You couldn’t sound like nobody, you couldn’t follow trends and fads. You had to set them. And that’s why, when you look at it like a me, a Chingy, a Nelly coming out of St. Louis, we set the trend, we didn’t follow suit. We set the trend. And so that’s what we’re used to. We not used to, like today everybody is cool to just sound like 20 other people. That’s not where we come from. That’s not what we are about. So I stick to that. I’m gon’ always be Chingy. I’m gon stick to that. And even if I decided to flip the script, make something, and I got some modern stuff on my album, like a song called “Rewind Time”, where it’s the flavor of what they like today, but still it’s me. You gon’ always know it’s me. That’s Chingy. Whether I’m rapping fast, because I just have my own sound. And that’s what makes it great.
KS: So you’re saying that there there’s a way to appreciate the current movement, the current times, but also still be that individual artist.
Chingy: Yeah, it totally is. But you also gotta innerstand this as well. There’s nothing new under the sun. What we think is new, what current artists are doing, has been done. People rapping fast, you know, like Twista, one of the originators, like Bone, like so many people, this has been done; adding autotune to it. Roger Zapp, people been autotuning their records since the eighties. This has been done all the time. I’ma tell you who brought it to the forefront, far as rappers go, and set the tone. Lil Wayne. When Lil Wayne started using autotune with his rapping, it set the tone.
KS: Yeah, he was very unique with that.
Chingy: And so what you’re seeing now is that’s where it come from. Lil Wayne is a pioneer and always was an inspiration, favorite, of mine since he was 13. I’ve been listening to Lil Wayne since he was underground. I’ve always been listening to Lil Wayne. He’s at the forefront of trendsetting and pioneering tattoos, face tattoos. They got it from Lil Wayne.
KS: He’s done a lot for the culture.
Chingy: A lot of these things they got from Lil Wayne. But yeah, so you, know what it is. And it’s nothing new under the sun. It’s never nothing new under the sun. It’s a 360 circle. And it might take years to go back to having blonde hair just like in the eighties.
KS: But it’s coming back.
Chingy: No, it is. It’s already there. So it’s nothing new under the sun. People gotta realize this.
KS: So I know that you’re coming to Chicago, which is gonna be great. So you’re coming in October. Should people expect any surprise guests? I know you’ve made amends with folks.
Chingy: At the moment, I can’t really say, but not as of now. But what they can expect is me to just rip the stage, tear the stage down, have fun with the people and party and be energetic. Look forward to that.
KS: So we do a thing called, Top Five, here at HYFIN. And I’d like to know it’s, it’s basically your top five on any type of topic. So tell me, cause you’ve learned a lot over your years in the industry… what?
Chingy: What I was gonna say, now you talking about top five, like artists and stuff?
KS: Oh no, no. I wasn’t even going go through that. You can give them if you’d like, but I actually wanted to know your top five tips just for surviving in the music industry.
Chingy: Have an entertainment lawyer. Have an entertainment lawyer. Have an entertainment accountant. Weave out the people who don’t have your best interests. Get them away from you. Don’t roll with a big entourage of people who are there doing nothing. Save your money, don’t spend it on stupid stuff, save your money. And I say it don’t spend on stupid stuff. No, you can splurge a little bit and yeah. Reward yourself, but save your money and invest your money. Know yourself, love yourself. Put yourself first.
KS: So I was laughing a little bit because you already knew, you gave them! I’ve seen i other interviews where you’ve talked about the importance of having that entertainment attorney, not just the regular attorney. What’s the difference now, that you’ve learned the difference?
Chingy: Well, an entertainment attorney is just what that is. He knows the entertainment business. When you get another lawyer who may just do – you’re trying to bring a traffic lawyer or a domestic lawyer, somebody into that world, they don’t know. They don’t know that world so they can mess up deals. They can mess up things for you. So, you get into music, entertainment business, get an entertainment lawyer who knows that, how to navigate that world, that existence over there.
KS: And with that it doesn’t seem like you’re a person who necessarily has regrets. But with everything that you have learned, do you still appreciate the way that life turned out or would you have changed things?
Chingy: I’m gonna say this. I live in the now, I live in the right now. When we just got on this video chat, that’s in the past, that’s gone. That’s in the memories.
KS: Sure is.
Chingy: I live in the right now. I have no time to be going back. What we call past is but memories, what we call future is but imagination. I live in the right now. There’s no need to be trying to figure out, ‘oh my God, what? Eight years ago? 10 years ago’ I live in the right now. So far as regrets and everything, of course, sometimes we think about stuff we could have did this way could have did that way, but it all has happened. I live in the right now at this moment.
KS: And going back to your 5th thing, saving your money, investing your money. I’m guessing you’ve done that and you’re good now. Any reason why people should really get into that investing?
Chingy: Well, what I wanna say on that is that you always wanna be two steps ahead when it comes financially, when it comes to living. And, if you are just getting by day-to-day, don’t know how you gon’ pay your bills at the end of the month, try to change that. Start saving to where you got enough money and your bills are paid for the next five months. Just try to stay on top of the game, try to stay ahead of the game. You know what I mean?
As far as investing, a lot of things out here, you can invest in your phone. Cash App has a lot of things you can go on and invest in. Like I’m investing in McDonald’s, Roku, I’m investing in some cannabis. I’m invested in Coca-Cola. I’m investing in a lot of things. You know what I mean? So, just today, there’s no saying I can’t ‘cause you can.
KS: Is there anything that you want to tell people that I haven’t asked you? Anything that you want to bring to the table?
Chingy: Stream “Can’t Blame Me”, make sure y’all stream that and go cop that. Look out for the album, “Chinglish”, coming up at the top of the year. I’m gonna be dropping a second single called “Dat Good”. I’ll be on the Millennium Tour in October. Look out for that. Go get your tickets.
Hit up, rightthurr.com, get you some Thurr merch. You might want to get you a “Thurr” shirt and attend the concert in your “Thurr” shirt.
KS: How many “R’s” are in that? How many “R’s” are in, in thurr?
Chingy: In thurr? Just two!
KS: Two? OK. I mean, people gotta spell it right!
Chingy: Yeah. T-H-U-R-R. Also. I got my “Catch” cologne for men coming real soon.
KS: What you smell like?
Chingy: Some people say smell like a mixture of Cool Water and something, but they love it. Follow me on all my social platforms: @Chingy on IG; Howard “Chingy” Bailey on Facebook; Chingy on YouTube; @Chingy on TikTok; @Chingy on Twitter. And love and light. And I appreciate everybody that’s been supporting me and been staying down, you know, I do this for everybody and that’s what it’s about, love and light.
KS: Well, we appreciate you.
Chingy: Appreciate you for having me.
KS: Cause, yea I asked my friends, I said, ‘hey, I’m gonna be talking to Chingy. What you wanna know? And they’re like, man, where has he been?
Chingy: Yeah. Everybody wanna know where I’ve been. But see, here’s the thing. What I tell everybody, it’s a difference when you’re not with the major record labels no more. You don’t get the big machine push. You’re not gonna hear the artist on the radio constantly. You’re not going see the artists on all the big television shows constantly. When you’re independent like I am now it’s more of a work and struggle, as far as you just gotta navigate and do what you do and do it to the best of your abilities. You know, a lot of this stuff is big, big, big, big money. You know what I’m saying? And sometimes when you’re independent you trying to take that big money and section it off and put it in a lot of little places.
KS: Yea, where it’s going to flourish.
Chingy: So I’ve been putting music out. I never really stopped putting music out. It’s just the platform was not as broad. So I’ve always been around. It’s just people were used to me. I was such a success with the major labels and stuff. And you always heard me on the radio, always saw me on these TV shows and this, this and that, that when that kinda slowed down, people was like, ‘well, where is he at? But I’ve always been around.
Elizabeth Eden Harris, known professionally as Cupcakke, is an American rapper from Chicago, Illinois. She is known for her hypersexualised, brazen, and often comical persona
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Acclaimed GRAMMY-winning multi-instrumentalist, singer, and songwriter Meshell Ndegeocello makes her Blue Note Records debut with the June 16 release of The Omnichord Real Book, a visionary
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The Omnichord Real Book is introduced today by the expansive lead single “Virgo,” the mind-altering 8-minute centerpiece of the album which features Meshell on vocals, key bass, and keyboards, Younger on harp, Rodriguez on Farfisa organ, Chris Bruce on guitar, Jebin Bruni on keyboards, drums by Abe Rounds, Deantoni Parks, and Andrya Ambro, and additional vocals by Kenita Miller and Marsha DeBoe. The Omnichord Real Book is available for pre-order now on Blue Note Store exclusive color vinyl, black vinyl, CD, and digital.
“It’s a little bit of all of me, my travels, my life,” says Meshell. “My first record I made at 22, and it’s over 30 years from then, so I have a lot of stored information to share.” Reflecting on the impact that the forced stillness of the pandemic lockdown had on her, she says “I must admit it was a beautiful time for me. I got to really sit and reacquaint myself with music. Music is a gift.”
“This album is about the way we see old things in new ways,” Meshell explains. “Everything moved so quickly when my parents died. Changed my view of everything and myself in the blink of an eye. As I sifted through the remains of their life together, I found my first Real Book, the one my father gave me. I took their records, the ones I grew up hearing, learning, remembering. My mother gifted me with her ache, I carry the melancholy that defined her experience and, in turn, my experience of this thing called life calls me to disappear into my imagination and to hear the music.”
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