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Chingo Bling Knocks Down Industry Borders
8/18/07 - LatinRapper.com exclusive interview by Dante

(related: Chingo Bling 1st Interview and 3rd Interview)

 

picture of rapper Chingo Bling

Our last interview with the Ghetto Vaquero was back in 2004, now Houston's own Chingo Bling is back in the spotlight with his latest CD. As CEO of Big Chile Enterprises, Chingo recognized that no one can download merchandise, thus his empire includes everything from music publishing, bobbleheads and even hot sauce, making Big Chile into one of the most innovative labels in the industry.  Since our last feature, he's landed a national endorsement with Jose Cuervo, graced MTV and MUN2, and has appeared in all the major Hip Hop mags.


Still doubt his grind? The majors that entered a bidding war over him didn't, when the smoke cleared only Asylum was left standing. Chingo was now at the helm of an $80 million dollar distribution deal that allowed Big Chile to remain an indie label but with major distribution. Chingo gives us the scoop on the controversy over his new marketing campaign, and his role in the Latin community in this exclusive interview.

 



LatinRapper.com: What can you tell me about the new album?

The new album is a long time coming. The people who know about me, know I've been doing this for a hot minute, six years plus. It's been a long, twisty, winding road. A lot of hard work, but it's a real important moment for me because it's an album that's gonna get Soundscanned, it's gonna be available in most stores like Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Circuit City, Target. It has a politically charged title, and it's stirring up a lot of controversy. I'm pissing off a lot of people, I got more haters than ever. I just think it's a real important album.

You have a Marketing degree, did all the controversy fit into the marketing strategy for this album or did you not plan for that?

Both, I definitely planned... I was already thinking how I would market the album. But once I came up with the title, everything else just flowed from that. I knew I didn't want my billboard to have a lot of details like an album cover, I didn't want it to be traditional. In other words, if you're working with a whole bunch of money, you're able to just throw money at the problem and not worry about it.

 

But we've always been the type to do thing grassroots, go against the grain, think outside the box. Versus doing it like a fill in the blanks major label promotion, where they'll take the last artist that just came out and swap out with the new artist. Artist blah blah blah, with his new hit single blah blah blah, from the album blah blah blah, in stores blah blah blah. That's real generic, I didn't want to do that.

What producers do you have on the album doing beats?

Man, I got my boy Daniel Kartel on there, y'all know him from working with Soulja Slim and Juvenile and people like that, I got him on the track. Also Jim Jonsin from Florida whose done stuff for Trick Daddy, Pitbull, Trina, Danity Kane. Also my boy Salih Williams who did the majority of the tracks, you know him from Draped Up, Sittin' Sideways, Still Tippin, Pouring Up with UGK. Real groovy, syrupy, bassline crazy Houston screwed and chopped hooks and all that. We got quite a few people on there.

I think I was the one who first connected you with Dani Kartel.

Sure did. Sure did, bro.

I didn't know when some of that production of his that I heard would be used, does he have a few tracks on this album?

He has one on this one, but there's a couple others I still want to use. One is kind of political, the whole subject, I might want to release that on the next album.

How is "You Can't Deport Us All" different from Tamale Kingpin or Chingo 4 President?

I think it's different because it's gonna help solidify me more as a versatile artist. I think I evolved in a way that hopefully my fans can see one step at a time that I'm able to talk about different stuff. I'm a firm believer in evolving when an artist is expressing what he's going through at the time, or what she or he feels.

 

You got to make it like that, it has to come naturally from your heart. It can't be like, 'what's hot in the street, what can I do now to get on the radio, what's MTV gonna like.' (dignified voice) 'Okay, I gotta make my record for the women now, scratch that off the list.' I don't believe in that. I think that's the problem with rap music right now.

 

It sounds real cardboard, cut out, manufactured, microwaved. Versus that homecooked, what I grew up with, what I'm used to hearing. 8Ball & MJG, UGK, vintage stuff where you could tell they were having fun in the studios. Number two, you could tell that they didn't think of pleasing people like critics, they weren't worried about getting on the cover the Source. They were just worried about getting hot wherever they were at.

 

I think artists need to get back to that, making that homecooked stuff, with the jalapeno on the side and the slice of lime. Not that 'put it in the microwave, remove the plastic cover.' I think the kids these days, they don't have it as good as we did. I don't think they get goosebumps from these songs. It's not like "My Mind's Playing Tricks On Me", them kinda records. Everyone sounds like they're chasing hits and not trying to make them.

You have a new imprint on Asylum, picking up steam, is the merchandising going good?

Merchandising has always been great. I'm not gonna sit here and lie and say that it's multiplied by 100, but I have my steady loyal fan base, and it's growing every day. Every day since I started, someone new knows about me. Whether it's overseas, or new fans, or people who didn't like me at first and now they do. We're independent, Mexican-owned, just trying to be a Latin-owned business that takes it worldwide.

With Asylum are you working on new things with Big Chile artists like Stunta?

This album is really going to set him up as well, as well as the other cats in the family like Lucky Luciano. Because not only are we touring together and doing promo together, but they're featured on my album. Also on the DVD, you got behind the scenes with Stunta's video, I have a feeling that just based on quality, word of mouth is gonna spread.

 

Hopefully it will be selling for a while and all those new fans will get to see my whole click and what we have brewing in Houston. To me that's important, it just makes more sense to have an actual market, a whole genre, a bunch of different artists that's hot. It could be Jacob Poe from Austin or Squeeze from the Bay, and that's better for everybody, it can't just be one guy.

We intentionally put off interviewing you until after Tuesday because of an ongoing situation and wanted to get the full scoop afterwards to hear what happened.

We have all kind of in-stores lined up for the promotion of this album. One of those was a stop in Dallas where we were schedule to appear at a store called Eargasm. Which is a chain, a guy named James has like eight of these stores, and one of these happened to be at Irving Mall. I can't remember who paid for the commercials, whether it was us or James, but we had commercials running and a remote that was paid for that was supposed to promote me going there.

 

The lady who's in charge of the mall, for whatever reason, she has a problem with me. She didn't admit that, she kept saying it wasn't personal. She would call my staff, she would call the radio station staff, her tenants, which is James from Eargasm, her superiors, she'd call anybody she could to basically b**tch and complain that I better not step foot over there. There's gonna be trespassing, there's gonna be extra police, security to escort me out, I'm not allowed to do it, so on and so forth. I really don't know what the hell... If I'm not rolling in a group of six or more... I know there's little rules because I been kicked out of malls before, I know I'm not allowed to pass out flyers, wear stuff with profanity on it.

 

Maybe they have some clause in there that says we reserve the right to refuse service to anybody, maybe that's her cop-out. But she never gave that as her reason, she just kept saying we don't do events like that, we don't do those kind of events. But they just had Kelly Clarkson, The Cowboys, they had the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, T.I., they do things where there's crowds of people. I really don't know what her problem was.

I wanted to have 10-15 kids dressed up like me with the cowboy hats and boots, and not break any of the rules. Kind of like a peaceful demonstration, stage a walk-in or whatever. Have them walk in different entrances, just go about shopping, spending money, do whatever they want. Have an ice cream, sit on the bench, buy a CD. I just wanted to buy my album.

 

At the end we canceled the in-store 'cause James didn't want to do it, she was threatening to terminate his lease. I wanted to have all these different kids walk in just for security to see how silly it was to harass anyone who fits that description just because. We didn't have time to prepare all that, I had to get back in Houston for more radio, in-stores and my release party.

 

I ended up going on the air and saying 'hey, a warning out there, disclaimer to any Mexicans who plan on shopping at Irving Mall: you might fit the description of someone their looking for. Whatever you do, don't wear no cowboy hats or cowboy boots in Irving Mall today, if you're trying to shop, because you might get harassed.' This whole deportation debate, everyone knows its a hot issue, a hot topic, some people are on one side of the fence, some people on the other side. What I'm starting to notice is that there's a lot of emotion involved, a lot of ignorance and fear. And when you have ignorance and fear, sometimes it turns into prejudice.

 

I just think there's a lot of hate intertwined with people's opinions when it comes to this. It's not just black and white, it's not just 'well it's against the law, that's why I'm against illegal immigration.' It's not that simple, it's usually a lot more said than that.

We've discussed this personally before, but how do you respond to claims that you perpetuate stereotypes about Mexicans or Latinos in general.

I could talk to you all day about that, because I get asked that. I feel that my role in my community and to the public is one of empowerment. I think if anything I uplift my people, I promote things like education with my scholarships. I think I promote smart business tactics. If I was just a dancing sambo, I would be a puppet to the man. I'd be a puppet saying things that please the man for his entertainment. That, to me, is someone who perpetuates stereotypes.

 

I feel like I'm someone who's pimping the system, sticking it to the man by owning my masters and saying what I want and what I feel. Knowing my rights, knowing my freedom of speech, spreading awareness of the subject by creating slogans like "They Can't Deport Us All". By me investing my money, time and energy into the slogan, it raises awareness.

 

I could have chose to water down my lyrics, to assimilate, take this hat off because some people might think it's not ignorant. 'I'm not going to wear these boots no more because a lot of people don't like it. I'm gonna change my album title.' That's not me. I was raised to stand up for what I believe in, I'm the type of person where I'm not afraid to be different. I chose to do things my way for a reason.

A lot of people don't like what I'm doing, and that's okay. I just had a debate with John Gibson from Fox News talk radio. I got all kinds of people trying to drill me. These right-wing Conservatives on these blogs. Michelle Malkin, she has a show on Fox news as well, another Conservative. She has a blog with all her fans trying to vilify me, defame my character and my fans.

 

They'll try to nitpick every little thing, they'll talk about my artwork for ten minutes. 'Well why is he jumping the fence back into Mexico, because the immigration guy is behind him. Look at his use of Spanish, it's improper at times.' Basically trying to discredit me as I don't know what I'm talking about, one person even said that I should be moved to the top of the deportation list.

 

They'll go as far as finding little clips of fans wearing a "They Can't Deport Us All" shirt, and maybe doing some dirty dancing and stuff, and then maybe use that as part of their argument. A fan will post a comment on my site with a gun next to a CD saying 'I got your back', and they'll post that saying 'See, they're just hate mongers, ignorant.' I think they got too much free time, this issue isn't just black and white. They like to generalize. Really, I just love the fact that I'm doing my job. Not just controversial, raising eyebrows, but I'm provoking thought, sparking this debate. I'm entertaining these Conservatives.

 

It's not a dialogue on those blogs, its a monologue, them hating on us. But the beautiful thing is when I get to go on Fox News with one of her colleagues, I probably surprise the hell out of them that I can actually speak, and that I had some points. He tried to drill me on stuff, I'm not an expert on everything, I'm not a politician, but I try to be as eloquent as I could. He's probably like 'Aw crap, this is a rapper? He's actually coming back with some points.' If that's my role, I'll take that responsibility.

Where are you touring the next few weeks?

Right now we're in Corpus Christi. We're hitting Texas up this week, we just came from California but we're going back to do in-stores. We do a show in El Paso this Friday. We're supposed to be hitting Albuquerque, Phoenix, Denver. Basically our top market, where we have the highest concentration of love.

Do you have a message for your fans?

I appreciate the love, hopefully they enjoy the album. I want to get people's feedback, maybe they can post with you or with my website for what their favorite cuts are, that way I know what to shoot a video to or what to push next. I still don't have a whole lot of radio love, spins and all that.

 

But I just want to let the fans know that we're here because of them, we do this for them. We're only going to go as far as they allow us to go. If all my fans get together and be like 'alright, there's enough of us to fill a stadium now', alright, we gonna start doing stadiums. If not, we're gonna keep doing these clubs, keep dropping mixtapes and represent for the people.

Chingo Bling official website: http://www.chingobling.com 

Chingo Bling on Twitter: http://twitter.com/CHINGOBLING

Chingo Bling on MySpace: www.myspace.com/officialchingobling

Chingo Bling on Facebook: www.facebook.com/officialchingobling 

 

 


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