Chamillionaire

Ultimate Victory (Chamillitary/Universal Motown)

When did mainstream rap become more relevant than its underground counterpart? Talib Kweli and El-P released self-congratulatory pap this year while Kanye West's sincere, introspective effort sold a million copies in its first week. Now we've got Chamillionaire, whose Ultimate Victory is perhaps the most topical album ever. Though what he's saying doesn't always make sense, it's usually hilarious. "Rosie O'Donnell and Donald Trump stay arguing about nonsense/They'd treat me as good as Hugh Hef if I had a mansion full of blond chicks/If adultery was a felony, then Clinton would be a convict," he raps on "The Morning News." Later, on "The Evening News," he references Don Imus, Virginia Tech, and Anna Nicole Smith in the same stanza.

Along the way, he celebrates himself for getting rich, selling many ringtones, and traveling to foreign countries. But his nerdy, charming style makes you forgive the braggadocio. Chamillionaire is the rare rapper who avoids beef, and here he name-drops or features in guest spots just about every MC imaginable (UGK, Slick Rick, Krayzie Bone, and Lil Wayne make appearances). While nothing here is as infectious as "Ridin'," the mostly under-the-radar producers' understated beats let Cham's likable flow sparkle.

 
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