Hakeem Seriki, 28 November 1979, Houston, Texas, USA. This southern rappers remarkable rise to the top of the US charts in 2006 paid testament to the potency of the Houston-based mixtape scene, with Chamillionaire the latest in a line of emcees from the city to cross from the underground to the mainstream. His fluid delivery and verbal dexterity marked Chamillionaire out as one of the most talented lyricists to emerge in the new millennium.
Raised in a strict religious household by his Muslim father and Christian mother, the young Hakeem Seriki began rapping in his early teens. He teamed up with his friend Paul Wall and the duo began performing at local promotions in Houston. They then joined other rappers including Mike Jones and Slim Thug at Michael 5000 Watts Swishahouse label, the leading outlet for the screwed and chopped style. The Swishahouse mixtapes proved highly popular on the underground circuit, and before long Chamillionaire and Wall had decided to chance their arm with their own Color Changing Click group, recording a series of mixtapes for the Swishahouse and Paid In Full labels. The most notable of these was 2002s Get Ya Mind Correct, a bona fide underground classic that sold over 100, 000 copies in the south.
After falling out with Wall when recording the follow-up to Get Ya Mind Correct, the next move for Chamillionaire was to establish his own solo venture. He teamed up with former Swishahouse associate OG Ron C to form the Chamilitary label, hiring his younger brother Rasaq to help record a series of mixtapes that proved wildly popular on the streets of Houston and throughout the south. With so many units being moved it was a matter of time before the major labels came calling, and in 2005 Chamillionaire signed a contract with Universal Records. Atlanta-based producers the Beat Bullies oversaw the majority of the sessions, although Mannie Fresh, Scott Storch and Cool And Dre were also recruited to help out. Released at the end of 2005, The Sound Of Revenge rocketed into the US Top 10 at Christmas. The albums shelf life was extended by the success of the attendant singles, Turn It Up (featuring Lil Flip) and Ridin (featuring Krayzie Bone). The latter reached the top of the US Hot 100 the following May.
Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.