Chamillionaire has been turning up in a nationwide campaign with CarMax Inc KMX.
The Grammy award-winning rapper turned Venture Capitalist scored his most famous song ever with Ridin' in 2005 and re-recorded his hit for CarMax's Ridin 30 campaign, promoting the company's 30-day return policy premiered in August.
Chamillionaire says he continues to get many offers from brands owing to the longtime virality of the hit and was initially hesitant, but Carmax decided to make him the face of the brand that was the tipping point.
"I get contacted by many companies that want to use the song for different reasons, but since I was already pretty familiar with the quality of previous CarMax commercials, it was a lot easier for me to visualize the campaign as a good fit," Chamillionaire said in an exclusive interview. "I became even more intrigued when we started discussing the concept of me actually appearing in the commercial because most of the time, companies are simply just looking to license the song."
The Enduring Success of Ridin'
Chamillionaire acknowledges that there have been many rap songs aimed at police. Still, Ridin' struck the perfect blend of being catchy and not too forceful to help give a well-known underground artist mainstream appeal.
"There were plenty of other songs about police before Ridin', but it was digestible and safe enough to get love from corporate America. We live in a social media era, and the meme-worthy nature of the song seems to be the element that keeps giving it a new life. It only becomes a classic song when a record is able to retain the same kind of nostalgic impact decades later, and luckily for me, this song doesn't seem to be going anywhere anytime soon," Chamillionaire says.
Chamillionaire has always had a special connection with cars, the first half of his name referring to the candy and color-changing painted cars that his hometown of Houston, Texas made famous.
Ridin' was the second single from Chamillionaire's first Major release, The Sound of Revenge, hit #1 on Billboard Charts. Chamillionaire says the song stays relevant through a universal topic everyone can relate.
Carmax's partnership with Chamillionaire is a win for hip-hop and a testament to his power as a force connecting the corporate world with rap. Chamillionaire often serves to help other rappers that want to expand their brands beyond music. He credits the importance of identifying your purpose as the first step and advocates that not all business is good business if it doesn't align with that purpose.
"I think it starts with knowing what you are passionate about, and I believe you need to have a good sense of where you want to be headed in life. I don't wake up every day thinking about corporations, but I do spend a lot of time working to fulfill what I believe is my purpose," Chamillionaire said.
"I also think it's important to learn as much of the business side of the industry as you can so you will be able to take full advantage of opportunities when they appear. You shouldn't be doing business transactions just for the sake of looking like you are progressing. You need to have a laser focus on the destination and often that means turning down some things that aren't a fit for you. We all know that every business transaction is potentially a stepping stone to another, but not knowing where you want to go is like walking through the woods with no compass. When you understand your purpose, it will lead the way for a lot of your other decisions. The brands and the deals will come once you master what matters most."
A prolific artist in the underground rap scene, Chamillionaire had sold hundreds of thousands of mixtapes independently before he signed with Universal in 2005. Still, he is leveraging his music to reach greater heights beyond music, becoming a well-known speaker and investor in tech and venture capital.
He credits his thirst for knowledge as what enables him to stay ahead of the game in music and business, and he is channeling that focus toward investing.
"I spent my free time learning about things I was more interested in, like technology and the internet, but now it's all about startups and investing for me. A never-ending thirst for knowledge will tell you a lot about the past, but it will also mentally prepare you for whatever comes in the future. I can only tell you where I think things are headed because of what I learned about what happened in the past."
Chamillionaire's fans are undoubtedly excited to see him re-emerge, and he says he will continue to make more appearances and new music; he has always been strategic in his communication, opting to pick the right time to speak. "I am not the type of artist that wants to be on your timeline every day. I prefer to speak when I have something to say instead of speaking just to be heard. I prefer to create art at times when the moment is worthy of my attention instead of chasing whoever's idea of relevancy." he explains.
"In the meantime, I'm working to continue flourishing with my investing career, and I'm confident it will be even more impactful than my music career in the end. I know that might sound really ambitious, but I think it would only sound crazy to anyone that hasn't been paying as much attention to me as they should."
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