I am not a fan of end of year list scheduling. I began the process at the end of November, working on it for close to three weeks. In that time, new releases kept coming in, keeping the list in constant flux. Imagine my surprise then, when Lil Cham’s CHAM came out a couple of days after I submitted my final draft. I had been waiting for this debut since first hearing her on Fame-J’s “Why So Serious” two years ago! The timing of the list can’t be changed, but records that fall after critics’ end of year lists don’t get the recognition they could deserve; Lil Cham’s debut LP is a prime example of that conundrum.
From the start, CHAM presents two sides of Lil Cham: lady and bitch. On the former, things don’t go well. For “Him,” the electric guitar riff hints at emotions you can’t believe she’s expressing. While I can see her claiming exclusivity rights in relationships, her delivery falls flat. For “Ride,” Lil Cham deepens her voice, doing away with her chipmunk trademark to make herself sound sexier, giving her a forced affect. The song is worth listening to only because San E plays up the typical male approach to hooking up, as well as getting both perspectives on heterosexual hook-up culture in one song, something rarely done. If by “lady” she means being of the female gender, Lil Cham won just by being born; any other allusions to the word are absent in CHAM, which is fine.
The “bitch” part of CHAM is on full display and Lil Cham kills. The lead single “위험해” is the only club song of the bunch, with Lil Cham playing up her “low like a hoe” side alongside Verbal Jint, back to his nasty side since his bit on the Zion.T track, “Doop.” Songs like “나빠” and “Raw” ooze attitude from everyone involved, with strong beats and great styling from 1llevn and Dwang. The piece de resistance on CHAM has to be “Bad Girls’ Anthem,” a rallying cry and obligatory statement-making track for all female rappers. Lil Cham is at her element when she gloats about getting a girl’s man and the competition’s fans, but this one includes humor when she mimics some nameless rival before stating, “feel free to call me a bitch.” When the lady goes gutter, Lil Cham is on fire.
On her first outing, Lil Cham is all bitch and no class. Her attempts at class fall face first, but CHAM more than corrects for that. Tracks like “나빠,” “위험해,” and “Alpha Bitch” show her talent on the mic to gloat, with “Bad Girls’ Anthem” and “Raw” the epitome of Lil Cham’s she-bitch philosophy. Would CHAM have made my best of year list? No, because the skip button is at the ready more than I’d like. That said, CHAM is a strong release by Factory Boi’s first lady, with tracks that get better with repeated listening.