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Chamillionaire 

Ultimate Victory (Motown)

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When did mainstream rap become more relevant than its underground counterpart? Talib Kweli and El-P released self-congratulatory pap this year, while Kanye's sincere, introspective effort sold a million copies in its first week. Now we've got Chamillionaire, whose Ultimate Victory is perhaps the most topical album ever made.

Although he doesn't always make sense, Cham is usually hilarious. On "The Morning News" he raps, "Rosie O'Donnell and Donald Trump stay arguing about nonsense/They'd treat me as good as Hugh Hef if I had a mansion full of blond chicks/If adultery was a felony, then Clinton would be a convict." Later in the track Chamillionaire references Don Imus, Virginia Tech, and Anna Nicole Smith in a single stanza.

Of course Cham celebrates getting rich, selling mucho ringtones, and traveling to foreign countries. But his nerdy, charming style makes you forgive the braggadocio. Chamillionaire is also the rare rapper who avoids beef, and here he name-drops or features just about every emcee imaginable: UGK, Slick Rick, Krayzie Bone, and Lil Wayne all make appearances.

While nothing on Ultimate Victory is as infectious as Cham's 2006 track "Ridin'," the album's understated beats let his likable flow sparkle.

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