Chingy’s back, but not as you’ve ever heard him before.
After spending some time last year in Nashville, the St. Louis rapper on April 24 dropped “The Woah Down,” a country/hip-hop song he recorded with country-pop duo Meg & Tyler. Meg is Meghan Linsey, a runner-up on “The Voice” and formerly part of the duo Steel Magnolia; producer and singer-songwriter Tyler Cain is her fiance.
Chingy says “The Woah Down” bridges country, pop and hip-hop, “just like ‘Old Town Road,’” the biggest hit of 2018. But he didn’t view the song as a part of a whole country hip-hop thing.
“I just wanted to make a great record; I wasn’t thinking genres,” he says. “Music is universal, and that was my goal — making a universal tune. When I did ‘Right Thurr,’ I didn’t have the intention of it being urban, pop or mainstream, but when it came out, it hit all those platforms. I never have the intention of categorizing my music. I always want to be different and authentic in what I do.”
Chingy expected to hear references to Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road.” A remix of the song featuring Billy Ray Cyrus was nominated for record of the year and won best pop duo/group performance and best music video at the Grammys in January.
“If there’s any comparisons, people have their right to their opinions, and that’s how they feel, whether it’s balanced or imbalanced,” he says of “The Woah Down,” which doesn’t sound like “Old Town Road.” “If it reminds them of something, then it reminds them of something. When it comes to me and comparisons and competition, I always think competition divides. I don’t feel like I’m in competition.”
Chingy, impressed with the success of “Old Town Road,” says “The Woah Down” is “about having fun, enjoying yourself, getting you in a good mood and appreciating the moment. It’s all about appreciating life and love.”
Chingy (Howard Bailey Jr.), 40, toured with B2K in 2019 as part of the “Millennium Tour,” which came to Enterprise Center.
He loved hooking up with Meg & Tyler and says the song came together in 45 minutes. “When I make music, I’m moving,” he says. “I work, work, work.”
Linsey brought an idea for the song’s hook, and Cain played guitar. Their voices, combined with Chingy’s distinct rap flow, led to something he says is great.
The song is accompanied by a video, shot by Jeremy Ryan on a ranch in Nashville.
“Everything was shot in one place,” Chingy says. “Jeremy has a real eye for creating different scenes. It just felt good — felt exciting — which is what the song is about and what the video is about.”
This isn’t the first time a St. Louis rapper has ventured into the honky-tonk. Nelly famously did it in 2004 when he teamed with Tim McGraw for their hit “Over and Over,” and again when he rapped on Florida Georgia Line’s “Cruise” remix in 2013.
“What a lot of people don’t understand is that when it comes to artists like me and Nelly, he’s the same way in that he strives to be different, strives to be an outcast, strives to be authentic,” Chingy says. “He tries to come up with new ways to create music and make sounds and work with people. I wouldn’t be surprised if the idea (for the song) came from Nelly.
“Creating other lanes is what we do. That’s what people don’t understand about me and Nelly being successful.”
Chingy and Meg & Tyler have a couple of other songs already recorded: “Settle Down” and “Through It All.” He’s not sure whether they will land on a full album or an EP project. But he does say “The Woah Down” likely will appear on his own next EP, “Crown Jewel,” which he plans to release early this summer.
“Crown Jewel” will reveal new layers of Chingy. “It’s going to be more conscious,” he says, referring to the type of hip-hop that’s less party-friendly and more politically or social issues-minded.
“I’m talking about real subject matters like knowing oneself,” he says. “It’s still going to be fun, but it’s also meaningful. I’m taking it back to some real hip-hop, like no other Chingy project. Whoever thought I couldn’t rap will really see it on this project.”
In addition to a new single and video, Chingy has spent his time in quarantine with a new daughter. He’s also been recording in his home studio and keeping himself fit with yoga.