At the start of his fourth record, Chingy declares that people are either going to love him or hate him, but the reality is, he evokes nothing but a shrug. He's not inspired enough an MC to love, but he's too tuneful and likeable to really hate. These overly familiar jams just prove that he's really good at spinning his wheels. The St. Louis rapper produces music here that we've heard before done better by others (even himself). He's got bangers extolling how much he's got ("Check My Swag"), why he's hot ("2 Kool 2 Dance"), and how to make the block rock ("Blockstar"), but he brings nothing new to the table. The thug-love duet is here (the admittedly infectious "Fly Like Me" with Amerie). There's the obligatory "What's Going On" hip-hop cop with "How We Feel," which shows that buried beneath the greedy obsessions there's some common sense. To show heart, he offers a shout-out to his moms, grams, and baby momma ("Lovely Ladies"), just like every guilty-conscience MC. Chingy has modified his Nelly-inspired sing-song flow, and he knows his way around a hook. But too much is just empty and stale. [Ken Capobianco]
ESSENTIAL "Fly Like Me"