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Hakeem Seriki (born November 28, 1979), better known by his stage name Chamillionaire (/kəˈmɪliənɛər/),[1] is an American rapper, entrepreneur, and investor from Houston, Texas.[2] He began his career independently with local releases in 2002, including the collaborative album Get Ya Mind Correct with fellow Houston rapper and childhood friend Paul Wall. He signed to Universal Records in 2005 and released The Sound of Revenge under Universal. It included hit singles "Turn It Up" featuring Lil' Flip and the number-one, Grammy-winning hit "Ridin'" featuring Krayzie Bone of Bone Thugs-n-Harmony. Ultimate Victory followed in 2007, which was notable for not containing any profanity.[3] Chamillionaire is also known for his most anticipated Mixtape Messiah series, which ran from 2004 until 2009.[4]

Chamillionaire
Chamillionaire July 2008 (cropped).jpg
Chamillionaire in July 2008
Background information
Birth nameHakeem Seriki
Born (1979-11-28) November 28, 1979 (age 39)
Washington, D.C., United States
OriginHouston, Texas, United States
Genres
Occupation(s)
  • Rapper
  • songwriter
  • record producer
  • record executive
  • entrepreneur
  • investor
Years active1997–present
Labels
Associated acts
Websitewww.chamillionaire.com

He currently serves as the CEO of Chamillitary Entertainment. Chamillionaire was also the founder and an original member of the Color Changin' Click until the group split in 2005.

In early 2011, he left Universal Records, which led to his would-be third album, Venom, going unreleased. Chamillionaire released his first independent extended play Ammunition in March 2012[5] and was noted as his first major release since he left the label. Another EP, Elevate, was released on February 17, 2013. He said it is going to be one of several to be released before his third studio album, and shortly after his third EP Reignfall was released on July 23, 2013.[6] He is working on his third studio album, Poison.[7]

Chamillionaire joined Los Angeles-based venture capital firm Upfront Ventures in early 2015.[8]

Contents

Music careerEdit

1998–2004: Career beginningsEdit

Seriki's stage name Chamillionaire is a portmanteau of "chameleon" and "millionaire"[9][10] While promoting at an event, Seriki and fellow rapper Paul Wall met Michael "5000" Watts, a popular mixtape DJ from northern Houston. After proposing to do promotions for Watts's company Swishahouse, Chamillionaire and Paul Wall came to Watts's studio and convinced Watts to allow them to freestyle on an intro to Watts's radio show on Houston hip-hop radio station KBXX-FM. Watts, who himself was convinced to rap on the record, enjoyed the freestyle so much that he put the verses on one of his mixtapes. Soon, Seriki (performing as Chamillionaire) and Paul Wall became regular staples on Houston's mixtape circuit, appeared on several of Watts's mixtapes, and became permanent members of Swishahouse.[11] Chamillionaire and Paul Wall soon started their own group, The Color Changin' Click. In 2002, Chamillionaire and Paul Wall collaborated for the album Get Ya Mind Correct, which went on to sell over 150,000 copies.[2] The Source magazine nominated the album for independent album of the year in 2002.[10] Chamillionaire and the Color Changin' Click, dubbed "Houston's answer to 50 Cent and his G-Unit posse", performed at the SXSW music festival in 2004.[12]

2005–2006: The Sound of RevengeEdit

 
(left to right) Chamillionaire, MC Hammer and Mistah F.A.B. at TechCrunch in 2008.

Chamillionaire's first major solo release The Sound of Revenge was released through Chamillitary Entertainment and Universal Records on November 22, 2005. The album debuted and peaked at number 10 on the Billboard 200 album chart in the United States.[13] The album's lead single was "Turn It Up", featuring Lil' Flip produced by Scott Storch, followed by "Ridin'", featuring Krayzie Bone of Bone Thugs-n-Harmony produced by Play-N-Skillz; "Ridin'" reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100.[14] Its video also was named "Best Rap Video" at the 2006 MTV Video Music Awards.[15] In 2007, he won a Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group for "Ridin'".[16] He was at that time signed with Michael 5000 Watts' Swishahouse label.[2] Comedic performer "Weird Al" Yankovic made a parody of the song entitled "White & Nerdy", for his own album Straight Outta Lynwood.[17] The third single from the album was "Grown and Sexy".[14]

Additionally, the bonus track "Grind Time" was featured in the video game NBA Live 06.[18] The album was certified platinum by the RIAA, and a chopped and screwed version, screwed by OG Ron C, was released in February 2006.[19] Guest appearances for the album included Lil' Flip, Natalie, Krayzie Bone, Bun B, Lil Wayne, Pastor Troy, Killer Mike, Scarface, singer Billy Cook, and his brother Rasaq. Chamillionaire won the Best New Artist award for the 2006 BET Awards [20]

The second installment to the Mixtape Messiah series, Mixtape Messiah 2, was released January 5, 2006.[21] Later in 2006, Chamillionaire was featured in the singles "Get Up" by Ciara, "That Girl" by Frankie J, "Bet That" by Trick Daddy, "King Kong" by Jibbs, and "Doe Boy Fresh" by Three Six Mafia in 2007.[22]

2007–2008: Ultimate VictoryEdit

To promote his new album, Chamillionaire released Mixtape Messiah 3 as a prelude to his new album on July 18, 2007, at 11pm Eastern Time on his website. Chamillionaire released his second mainstream album Ultimate Victory on September 18, 2007. Ultimate Victory was made without a single profanity said by Chamillionaire. Guest appearances included UGK, Krayzie Bone, Lil Wayne, Famous (Lil Ken), Tony Henry, Devin the Dude and Lloyd. The first single was "Hip Hop Police", featuring Slick Rick, which both Chamillionaire and Slick Rick performed on the CBS television network program Late Show with David Letterman on September 14, 2007.[23] The following single is "The Evening News."

Mixtape Messiah 4, the fourth title in Chamillionaire's Mixtape Messiah series, was initially set for release on December 18, 2007,[24] but was released on August 27, 2008.[25]

2008–2010: Final Mixtape Messiah, Venom, and Major PainEdit

In November 2008, Chamillionaire announced his plans for his third album, Venom, for release in early 2009.[26] His sixth installment in the Mixtape Messiah series was to be a "prelude" to Venom.[27] The first single from Venom was initially planned to be "Creepin' (Solo)", which featured Ludacris and ended up reaching #1 on the Billboard Bubbling Under R&B/Hip-Hop Singles chart. However, it is unclear whether or not the song will be included on Venom after Chamillionaire canceled and then reinstated the album. He announced that Mixtape Messiah 7 would be the final installment of the "Mixtape Messiah" series and that he cancelled Venom to create different material for his third album. Chamillionaire awarded his final Mixtape Messiah 7 to 100 winners of a contest which he ran on his website.[28][29] The first disc from Mixtape Messiah 7 was launched for free download on August 4, 2009, just after 11:30 pm EST, while Disc 2 was released on August 6, 2009, just after 2:00 am EST. The next day the next Disc 3 & 4 dropped making it a 66 track compilation.[30]

 
Chamillionaire performing in Dubai, 2010

On September 29, it was officially announced that Chamillionaire's third album would indeed be entitled Venom after a fan vote on his Web site. The first single from this upcoming album is titled "Good Morning". The album was scheduled to be released on June 22, 2010.[31][32]

Chamillionaire appeared on the remix for Weezer's song "Can't Stop Partying", from their album Raditude. He also joined Weezer for live performances as Lil Wayne, who is featured on the original version of the track, was convicted on gun possession charges and was unable to perform.[33] On December 11, 2009, Chamillionaire performed a set for "Fort Hood Community Strong", an event described as a day of "healing, fun and entertainment" for those placed at the Fort Hood military base who were affected by the shooting that took place on November 5, 2009, killing 13 people. Other performers at the event included Nick Jonas, Dana Carvey and Zac Brown Band.[34]

On December 23, 2009, Chamillionaire announced via his YouTube page that he would be initiating a new mixtape series entitled "Major Pain" through his website by dropping a disc entitled Major Pain on February 2, 2010.[35][36] Due to the 2010 NBA All-Star Game taking place in Dallas, Texas, Chamillionaire released a new song, "The Main Event", on February 11, 2010, via free download. It features fellow Texas rappers Paul Wall, Slim Thug & Dorrough. "Every artist on the song with me has independent hustle and strength in the streets," he said. "It's an All-Star song, so what better place to shoot the video than All-Star Weekend, right here in our own backyard."[37] It was later released to iTunes on June 8, 2010.

On Chamillionaire's official website, he stated: "Right now the Venom album is set for March 16 and has been pushed back just like Lil Wayne's Rebirth, Game's Red album, and countless other hip-hop albums that this happens to."[38] The date was later pushed back to June 22, but was not released that day. Venom has been confirmed as canceled as Chamillionaire has parted ways with Universal.

Venom was later released on DatPiff in 2011 as a bootlegged mixtape made by the fans.

2011–2012: Departure from Universal Records and Playlist PoisonEdit

According to Kanye West's engineer and producer Andrew Dawson, Chamillionaire and Universal Records have parted ways.[39] “I’ve been working a lot with Chamillionaire, because I produced some tracks for him. He got out of his deal with Universal [Records], which wasn’t a good situation for either of them,” revealed Dawson. “Him and I have an active producer agreement that is now null and void because they got caught in the legal shuffle, but I’m like, ‘I just want the music to come out. Let’s find a way to make it happen.’ I was emailing him stuff back and forth when I was [with Kanye West] in Hawaii. Some big stuff will be coming out this next year, so I’m stoked to see it going.” Chamillionaire also tweeted that he’ll be doing a Ustream session on January 14 to discuss his future plans.[40]

During his live UStream on January 14, 2011, Chamillionaire announced he was officially leaving Universal Records.[41] As part of this deal he is not allowed to release Venom or any material recorded during that time. He is currently working on a new series called Playlist Poison and will release tracks on a random basis. The first Playlist Poison song released was "When Ya On" which featured Nipsey Hussle and was followed by "This My World" featuring Big K.R.I.T., "Charlie Sheen" featuring Rock D & Killer Mike, and "Passenger Seat" featuring Short Dawg.[42] On April 18, he released the next installment in his Major Pain mixtape series, Major Pain 1.5 for free download from his website, and subsequently released 3 other mixtapes entitled Badazz Freemixes, Badazz Freemixes 2 and Badazz Slowmixes. Chamillionaire's 8 Song EP titled Ammunition was released for digital download on Tuesday March 20, 2012, and all physical bundles will be released on Tuesday March 27, 2012.[5] He will be releasing his third studio album complete with unheard material in 2013. The album will be titled Poison and will feature a music video for every track on the album. Also, he has been seen with Krizz Kaliko's, of Strange Music, 'Kickin and Screamin' album on the track 'Mayday' featuring himself and Rittz. Chamillionaire was featured on Saigon's 2012 album; The Greatest Story Never Told Chapter 2: Bread and Circuses on the single "Keep Pushing".[43]

On the December 4, 2012, Chamillionaire released Show Love to iTunes and it features D.A. of Chester French.[44] This was the first and only music video he had released of 2012, despite being in the music video on the song "No Room in Hell" for the upcoming video game; Dead Island: Riptide.[45]

2013–2015: EPs, finalizing PoisonEdit

On January 17, 2013, Chamillionaire announced he had been working on a new extended play. The EP, titled Elevate, was released on February 12, 2013. Elevate includes 7 songs and featured no artists.[46] He also stated that this EP will be one of many he will release in promotion of his Poison album.[47] Chamillionaire announced that despite leaving Universal, Poison is likely to be released through a major label, unlike the various promotional EPs.[48] On July 23, 2013, Chamillionaire released the third EP in promotion of Poison with Reignfall.[49] Reignfall would be his first project since his second studio album to chart on a Billboard chart.[50] On February 13, 2014, Chamillionaire released his first single of the year titled Watching Breaking Bad, in recognition of the TV show Breaking Bad and featured Tami LaTrell.[51] The single Go Getta followed on February 28[52] and End of a Knife, produced by Kato, was released on March 21, 2014.[53]

2015–present: Focus on entrepreneurial career and music featuresEdit

Since 2015, Chamillionaire has been appointed as an entrepreneur in residence for Upfront Ventures. During this time he has given more focus to his entrepreneurial career than music. He was featured on one single titled Sweet Dreams by BeatKing in the same year. Chamillionaire released volume 3 of his Greatest Verses on April 3 2018, which contained a collection of non album songs recorded from 2007-2014.[54] After a 2-year break, he returned to music in 2017 where he was featured on Trae tha Truth's single, I'm On 3.0.[55]A music video for the single was released on January 2019, and was the first time in six years that Chamillionaire made a music video appearance.[56]

Entreprenurial CareerEdit

Fly Rydes and Record Label (2003-2005)Edit

In addition to being a musician, Hakeem 'Chamillionaire' Seriki has embarked a business career and established himself as an entrepreneur in a number of industries. In 2003, he ventured into one of his earliest investments in a Houston-based auto dealer; Fly Rydes (formally known as Fly Rydes Kustom Toy'z) specializing in customizing cars.[57] Chamillionaire’s partner, Big Ernest, created the company years back, and Chamillionaire decided to collaborate with him to get “corporate money” for the business and build its clientele.[58] Chamillionaire has since let Ernest take over the whole company, due to his career.[59] He says; “Out here in Texas, that car thing is big. We’ll do videos and rent all kinds of cars and people will waste all kinds of money on them, and instead, they can come spend that money with me.”

Seriki founded his own record label; Chamillitary Entertainment. Seriki created the label after he had left his previous record labels; Swishahouse and Paid In Full Entertainment as he was unsigned. It was distributed by Universal Records but has been independent since January 15, 2011, due to Chamillionaire and the label parting ways.[60]

Masterpiece Mind Frame & Tour Bus Company (2006-2008)Edit

Seriki opened up a modelling company, called Masterpiece Mind Frame.[61] He believes it is his way of giving back to those who have things to offer, he says, but don’t know how to get there. “I will go out and see people and everybody wants to make money, and I will meet video girls who want to live the good life and all, but it is like, you gotta have a plan, you know?” Chamillionaire stated. “That is why it’s called Masterpiece Mind Frame because in the word mind frame, your MIND comes before your frame. Print modelling can turn into movies and other stuff, and you can just step all the way up the ladder. It’s like that with males and females, and if you’re trying to go somewhere, just walk up the ladder, you know, and take it to the next step.”[62]

It is reported that Chamillionaire also owns a Tour Bus company. He founded the company in 2006 after seeing the business potential from touring around the USA after the release of The Sound of Revenge as a rapper.[63] In addition, most of the tour buses have internet, cable, studio, DVD, surround sound and a shower.[64]

Maker Studios and Cruise (2009-2014)Edit

 
Chamillionaire in 2009 with Ian Rogers (left) and Brian Solis (right)

Chamillionaire met Mark Suster in 2009, an American entrepreneur and venture capitalist who is a managing partner at Upfront Ventures. Chamillionaire became and invested in his online video talent agency, Maker Studios. On November 4, 2009, Chamillionaire also launched the Global Innovation Tournament 2009 at the Stanford Memorial Auditorium, Stanford University with Quincy Jones III as part of the Stanford Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders Seminar Series.[65]

Seriki also invested Cruise Automation, a self-driving automation tech company, during its startup stage in 2013. This investment proved successful after it sold to General Motors for over $1 billion in 2016. The self-driving company includes features such as a kit in which customers can transform their vehicles to include self-driving technology.[66]

On March 24, 2014, Maker Studios, Inc. agreed to sell itself to The Walt Disney Company for $500 million, rising to $950 million if financial milestones were met.[67][68]Chamillioanire's investment in Maker Studios was $1.5 million and his payout was reported to be over $20 million. This investment forged a partnership between Chamillionaire and Mark in which Suster realised Seriki wanted to establish himself the tech industry. On April 14, 2014, Relativity Media submitted a competing bid of up to $1.1 billion, but Maker denied the bid.[69] In December 2015, the company became a subsidiary of Disney Consumer Products and the Disney Interactive division of The Walt Disney Company.[70] The Network also partnered with Fusion TV in a deal that falls under the corporate umbrella of The Walt Disney Company.[71]

Lyft & Upfront Ventures (2014-2016)Edit

Seriki has invested in Uber competitor, Lyft. He states that "Me and a few others like Big Boi from Outkast and Trey Songz were excited about the ride-sharing space," and that "This was around 2014, we started making the steps to get in touch with Lyft and did our investment in 2015."[72] In a 2019 intereview with CNBC, he told how he sees great potential with Lyft and even though the company went public in 2018, he is bullish on the company and will be invested in it for a long time.[73]

On February 23, 2015, Upfront Ventures, the largest early-stage fund raised in L.A since 2000, confirmed that Chamillionaire was appointed as an entrepreneur in residence. This marks the first time an honor of this kind has been bestowed upon a rap artist.[74] Chamillionaire hopes that this pivotal new role will allow him to help usher in the next generation of tech entrepreneurs as well as continue to offer valuable advice and investment capital to worthy start-ups.[75] A spokesperson for Upfront Ventures has stated that; "Chamillionaire brings a wealth of expertise in this area to the table based on his own years of employing successful tech and marketing strategies as both an independent music artist and later a label partner with Universal Records. Add to that he has quietly been a fixture in the tech world for many years: attending major conferences both as a keynote and audience member, making him a sought-after promotional partner, advisor and potential investor. It was in this capacity that he met Upfront partner, Mark Suster, in 2009, becoming one of the earliest co-investors in Maker Studios, now a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company."[76] In a letter penned by Mark Suster explaining the week he's had at Upfront Ventures in Los Angeles, he explains the presence of Chamillionaire around the office. "The same Chamillionaire who was showing us how to get our respective shines on not a decade ago. But if Kanye has taught us anything, it's that we can find success in multiple creative outlets. In the past five years or so, Cham has been quietly but actively involved in the tech startup scene, from speaking on social media engagement in the music industry to hanging out with Y Combinator associates."[77]

Convos and investing in Women/POC (2017-present)Edit

Seriki teased that he was working on something bigger than music in summer 2017 as part of being an EIR at Upfront Ventures with a soft launch of the social media app. In February 2018, at the Upfront Summit, Seriki announced Convoz, a social media app which allows an influencer to connect directly with his fans.[78] Seriki describes the app as a “the place where you go to talk to people.” and the launch comes after he “just wasn’t happy with the communication channels that are currently existing on social media." The app permist users to share15-second clips, which are usually addressed to celebrities. The celebrities can then decide which fan or user they can reply to, individually or all to see. The startup has a total of seven employees, and has cultivated an undisclosed amount of seed funding from Greycroft Ventures, Upfront Ventures, 500 Startups, Precursor VC, Okapi Ventures, XG Ventures, and a roster of angels including Justin Kan and Snoop Dogg.

In May 2019, Seriki,n interview with Yahoo! Finance, announced that they are going to invest $25,000 into a startup founded and managed by a woman or person of color alongside rapper E-40.[79] The move came after it was published that Caucasians make up 87% of Venture Capital-backed CEO’s and 97% of those positions are held by men.[80]

In September 2019, Seriki invested in Atoms, the first trainer company to come in quarter sizes.[81] The investment was led by Initialised Capital, the investment firm started by Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian and Garry Tan.

Personal lifeEdit

Everyday I watch the news and look at how crazy the world is. It humbles you to see other people's problems and to see the amount of adversity others seem to be going through. If you think you're going through hard times, you can always turn on the TV to see someone else who's going through things 10 times worse than you. But then again, the media will also dedicate a majority of their time focusing on topics that I feel are not as news worthy, often times making celebrity gossip their main focal point. I wanted to do a record with some social commentary but also not be too heavy handed when it comes to discussing the stuff that we should really be focusing on. I wanted to find the perfect balance and go right down the middle."

– Seriki, on his main focus of making music.[82]

Chamillionaire was born to a Muslim Nigerian father and an African-American Christian mother in Washington D.C., and moved to Houston, Texas at the age of four. Chamillionaire's parents separated in his early teenage years. He settled into the notoriously dangerous North West Houston neighborhood Acres Homes. He attended Jersey Village High School alongside rap partner Paul Wall.[83]

Rap and other forms of secular music, which his parents had highly opposed in their household, became very appealing to Chamillionaire, who was still in his teens at the time. Chamillionaire has stated that he was inspired by southern rap acts such as the Geto Boys, 8 Ball & MJG, and UGK, as well as other national acts such as N.W.A and Public Enemy. At a young age, Chamillionaire, along with fellow rap music artist and childhood friend Paul Wall, had decided to make music their careers.[84] Chamillionaire has a brother, who is 3 years younger than him, Rasaq Seriki who is also an occasional rapper and a past member of The Color Changin' Click. He announced through a video log that he has a son born on May 14, 2010. He points out that his son’s name, Xavier, means “new house”.[85] Chamillionaire has stated that despite being a Texas native, he has always been a Los Angeles Lakers fan. He goes on to say that "I know a few people think I'm on the bandwagon because the Lakers are a hot team but I was on the Lakers when people wasn't really rooting for them."[86]

On June 3, 2010 Chamillionaire's 3rd mortgage property home (Mansion) was foreclosed on by the bank. The rapper told TMZ in a public video claiming to have given it back to the bank after paying just over 2 million USD on it and claims it was a bad investment and he is never in it.[87]

ControversyEdit

Paul WallEdit

On November 19, 2004, Chamillionaire's younger brother, Rasaq Seriki, was allegedly attacked by Paul Wall and his entourage at a nightclub. Chamillionaire expressed his disappointment in Paul Wall, arguing that they all used to be family and that these events should not have happened. Before the entire incident between Paul Wall and Rasaq they were all part of the group called "The Color Changin' Click" which now has become fragmented. Chamillionaire released a diss track with Rasaq titled "Go Head".[88]

The dispute ended in 2010, when the pair reunited for a full tour. Paul Wall stated "It took a long time and us growing. You know, we started off as a group and a lot of times when you go your separates ways, a lot of people say, "Oh you can't do it without him" and so you wanna prove them wrong. I know for me, I wanted to prove everyone wrong and prove that I could make it on my own." Chamillionaire replied; "We had been bumping into each other a lot. It's kinda been died down for a little bit now but we just kinda needed that stamp of approval. I think the tour kinda just solidifies it for other people. It's not like today we just stopped beefing, we stop beefing along time ago, but nobody believed us."[89]

Awards and nominationsEdit

DiscographyEdit

Studio albums
Collaboration albums
Extended Plays

FilmographyEdit

Television
Year Show Role Notes
2007 Punk'd Himself 1 Episode (Season 8, Episode 2)
The Game 1 Episode (When the Chickens Come Home to Roost - Part 1)
Pimp My Ride 1 Episode (Season 6, Episode 10) - featured Chamillionaire as Guest Host

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

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