Chamillionaire certainly chose the right name for himself, but he knew that. While some singers are struggling just to cut the next record deal, this ingenious Houston native seems like he's always known where he's going. From his stage presence to his boardroom prowess, this is one man who knows his business(es). In recent years he's moved away from music to focus on venture capitalism. It seems he's just as good at making money no matter where he spends his time.
In The Beginning
Hakeem Seriki's stage name is a portmanteau, a combination of the words millionaire and chameleon. Long before the world saw him on stage, he knew that there was more to him than musical talent. However, music is where he got his start. Early on, he was working with his friend Paul Wall doing event promotions. It was there the duo met Michael "5000" Watts, a local radio DJ with his own show on KBXX, a hip hop radio station. As it turns out, Watts also had his own company Swishahouse, which the duo convinced him to allow them to help promote. Not too long after that, they managed to persuade him to let them come on the show and do a little freestyle. Watts joined them and liked it so much he added some of that track to his mixtape. They became regulars on Watts mixtapes, entered the local mixtape scene and ended up becoming members of Swishahouse. The pair formed Color Changin Click, and by 2002 they'd put out Get Ya Mind Correct and sole over a hundred thousand copies. That album was nominated for Independent Album of the Year by The Source. By 2005 he'd formed Chamillitary Entertainment and put out The Sound of Revenge with help from Universal Records.
Perhaps the best known of all Chamillionaire's songs has always been Ridin'. The song is one of the most commonly misnamed in the industry because everyone assumes its title is "Ridin' Dirty" when in fact it was simply called Ridin'. Regardless of what you choose to call it, the song was number one on the Hot Billboard 100. At the 2006 MTV Music Video Awards the song won Best Rap Video. That year he also won Best New Artist at the BET Awards. The next year the same song won a Grammy for Best Rap Performance By a Duo or Group. You know you've arrived at pop culture stardom in the music industry when Weird Al Yankovic makes fun of you. Weird Al did his own version of Ridin' called White and Nerdy on the album Straight Outta Lynwood. No doubt that spoof helped further promote the original song and added to Chamillionaire's meteoric rise to success. In 2007 he was invited to perform on The David Letterman Show.
Over the course of the next few years, until 2015, Chamillionaire worked with some of the biggest names in the industry. He made music with Lil Wayne, Three Six Mafia, Krayzie Bone, and Ludacris, to name just a few. He was also featured in Weezer's Can't Stop Partying for the album Raditude and Saigon's Keep Pushing on the album The Greatest Story Never Told Chapter 2: Bread and Circuses among many others. We don't have all the details on why Chamillionaire chose to leave Universal Records. Maybe the only person who does is the man himself. Nevertheless, he announced on his live UStream on January 14, 2011, that he was indeed breaking it off with his label. As a result the Venom album, which would have been his third, was never released. Fans were very disappointed since they'd chosen the title for the album by voting on his website. In place of Venom, he began working on an album called Poison. Though some singles and promotional pieces hit the market around 2013, Poison remains a work in progress. It seems that around the same time as he was working on this Chamillionaire was also shifting his focus in a somewhat unexpected direction.
Changing it Up
Switching career tracks happens to people all the time. We admit it's a lot more common for a former singer to go into fashion design or producing than many other fields. However, this (Cha)millionaire had something else in mind. Instead of doing what anyone might expect, he became a Venture Capitalist. Befoe the term "Angel Investing" existed, this savvy singer was doing precisely that. He was the first Investor in Residence at Upfront Ventures and among his early investments were Ring and Lyft. Ring sold for one billion dollars. It's not hard to see where his money is coming from these days. Cham believes that investment is the future for young people and has always encouraged those around him and his fans to learn more about it. Though he also admits that this isn't the direction, he thought his life would be headed. Initially, Cham considered branching out into acting. That wasn't what ended up happening. He admits that if you'd asked a younger version of himself what the future looks like, wearing a suit and being a venture capitalist would not have made the list at all.
Final Thoughts: What's Next
Currently, Chamillionaire is working on a program called Convos. He wants to invest more in technologies and help build the products of the future. From a concert promoter to living up to his self-given name, this is one man you want to keep your eye on. He's always been going places, and even though there have been quite a few surprises along the way, he knows a good deal when he sees one. He never invests more than he can afford to lose. Even though none of his investments have lost yet, he's prepared for it if it ever does happen. Music may have made him famous, but investing is where he'll become a real legend.
Clearly, Chamillionaire is fluid in his transactions and his direction in life. However, he's always flowed toward the direction where there was the most money. Between his excellent stage presence and his keen mind, this musician made his money with his brain and it seems likely that he won't stop anytime soon. We look forward to seeing whatever projects he comes up with in the future.
Written by Allen Lee
Read more posts by Allen Lee