Tamales y Más 

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After dropping a trio of successful underground Mex-tapes, Houston's Chingo Bling returns with The Tamale Kingpin, his "official" debut. Although a departure from his formula of jacking mainstream beats in the name of humor, the album has been well received by fans and currently rests at No. 98 on Billboard's nationwide rap chart. With no major-label backing, no music videos, and minimal radio play, H-town's favorite comedian is now jockeying for chart position with the likes of the Neptunes, Fabolous, and Missy Elliott.

The album's first single, "Walk Like Cleto," is a bouncy homage to Chingo's colorful sidekick, Cleto the fighting rooster, and the focal point of his recent campaign to encourage more radio stations to "Play Chingo's Chit!" Laughs are still at the heart of Chingo's shtick and cuts like "Osama!! Who Got the Keys to my Humma??," "Pop Tailgate Wooooooooooo!!!," and "El Corrido de Chingo Bling" are still funny the second and third time around.

The Tamale Kingpin

Chingo Bling
(Big Chile Enterprises)
Ultimately, Tamale Kingpin comes across as unbalanced and hurried, almost as if Chingo is rushing to meet his self-imposed Chingo de Mayo deadline. Tracks like "Swang on Deez Nuts," "Chiches & Nalgas," and "She Wants Chingo's Tamale" are downright embarrassing, and more often that not the tightest beats are paired with the weakest rhymes and vice versa.

To his credit, Chingo has assembled some of Texas' most promising young commercial rappers for Tamale Kingpin. Baby Bash and Lucky Luciano represent on "Still Holdin'," Mike Jones salvages "American Pie," "I'm a Balla" features Mello & Risky of the Choppaholix, and San Anto's Fade Dogg checks in on two separate tracks. •



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