Chaundon is an up and coming MC from the Justus League, sort of a labor union for underground artists to pool talent and resources together for general consumption. In the wake of their fellow comrade 9th Wonder blowing up, it was obvious a few of the League's lemmings would try to slip in the door behind him. Chaundon is one of them. However, as Chaundon ambitiously goes solo, his skill level comes into question. Is his persona potent enough to carry a whole album? Are his rhymes vivacious or vicious enough to keep our A.D.D ears worm-hooked for more than his usual cameo verses? Or is he another insipid, second-rate rapper, blinded by the great, gushy glory of stardom, suicide bombing the industry. His four-chamber EP will present and determine his case.
Chaundon hits first base running with the second-rate chart stopper "Bet Dat." Thanks to Khrysis, the beat is butter despite the fairy dust poured graciously overtop. Initially, as Chaundon jumps in, he sounds full of potential. He sounds like a hot rapper. He raps like a hot rapper. But still something doesn't sit right like a McDonald's McRib sandwich bubbling in your bowels. Like the sandwich, there is no real meat to him- only artificial flavoring. The McRib appears authentically tasty –with its printed grill marks, paint-coated barbecue sauce, and raised ridges to insinuate real rib bones- but all and all, it is only factory compressed Spam molded in the shape of real ribs. Similarly, Chaundon has sculpted himself into the factory pressed mold of a hit rapper, but he seems to lack truth. For instance his charisma feels too intentional, thus unnatural; versus the inherent voice inflection of someone like Ludacris who cultivated his maniacal, roller-coaster rhymes as a radio personality. Overall, Chaundon debunks this seemingly steamin' track with his pseudo-catchy flow and automated, artificial persona.
Shooting past second base, Chaundon switches dispositions on "Pay Me" to a hard-boiled, muscle-hustler. Again, the song sounds promising, but it looses its edge three steps in the door. First, it's unoriginal. Chaundon just took the standard, industry hustler theme -that is already growing jaded- and re-shitted it. He adds nothing fresh or invigorating to flavor the cliché's cryptic, cardboard taste; even the chorus cashes in on the coined catch phrase "fuck you, pay me." Plus, he still lacks a true voice. His hustler, bravado flow just sounds emulated instead of calculated, like Tony Danza trying to impersonate Jay-Z.
Chaundon rounds third with "Direction," produced by 9th Wonder. The beat actually sounds amateur compared to its ostentatious associates. Surprisingly though, Chaundon's mundane malarkey sounds much more natural and comfortable flowing over an average beat then its sumptuous predecessors. Also, a previously unmentioned problem resurfaces here to show its ugly little head: the pointless 20 second musical intros tacked onto each and every song. Possibly they are meant to weld the EP's disjointed body into a sense of cohesion, but instead they only falsely inspire hope of an artistic vocation that will surely disappoint as soon as the all-too-ordinary real track comes on. Basically it's like having Madlib introduce a Smilez and Southstar track.
Finally, Chaundon tries to slide into home base with "Boo That Nigga...", fully rounding the requirements for a generic, hit album with an attempt at humor. He lightens up his flow by rubbing a little Redman and Keith Murray together to try and produce some smoke. Problem is, the two sticks he is using to light the spark are too wet from blatant biting to produce any real flames.
The biggest injury to Chaundon's EP is not that he copies clichés or emulates pop-rap etiquette, a lot of rappers do this. The problem is that Chaundon is just too gray, meaning nothing about him is strong enough, black or white enough, to hook you. For instance, his most defining element is humor. Yet, he neither woos us with the calm, demure demeanor of MF DOOM, that can always seem to draw out a dry chuckle rain or shine; nor blast us with the natural harum-scarum hysterics of Redman. Thus with no distinguishable disposition, he just fades forgettable, like waking from a dream that you don't even care to go back to.
Overall, Chaundon is a generic rapper. He's not bad. He is not exceptionally good either, just uninteresting. He aims for the sugary-gilded charisma of Captain Crunch but his outdated 1-2 punch persona demotes him down to generic, Kroger Brand sugar-wafers. He might fit snugly into a group setting, like a throw back contestant from Making Da Band. (In fact at times he is biting so close to industry standards I think his molars chomped down on a Bad Boy butt cheek, complete with P. Diddy slapping his hands together and murmuring "yeah, I like this right here, I like how this feels.") But without a true voice behind his raps, Chaundon can cover all the bases and still not hit a home run.
Music Vibes: 5 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 5 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 5 of 10
Originally posted: May 25, 2004