Chingy would like you to know that he's doing just fine, thanks. The one-time king of pop-centric rap radio in the mid-2000s has kept a low profile over the past five years, taking a step back from a music industry that seemingly no longer wanted him; after three straight Top-10 albums and massive hit records like "Right Thurr" and "Holidae In," his 2007 effort Hate It Or Love It massively underperformed, and Chingy would leave Def Jam and DTP Records to go independent shortly thereafter.

But to hear him tell it, he didn't leave the major label scene by choice. After a photo he took with a fan turned into a full-fledged scandal in 2009 when the woman announced she was transgendered and had maintained a relationship with the St. Louis rapper, he claims he was dropped by his label and blackballed by the industry, and no amount of denials or retractions—the woman in question, Sidney Starr, admitted she was lying in 2012—could reverse the narrative. For Chingy, his time in the spotlight was over.

But rather than retreat and lick his wounds, Chingy hurled himself full-time into something he'd been dabbling in for years—school, specifically the University Of Khemetian Sciences, which uses the principles and theories of ancient Egyptian philosophy as the basis for classes in numerology, astrology, metaphysics and cosmology, among others. His Instagram is littered with his thoughts on the subjects of patterns, the movements of the planets and stars and symbolism in modern day culture, leading many publications, including XXL, to wonder if he had gone off the deep end into wild conspiracy theories.

But Chingy has re-emerged with a new record label, Fulldekk Music Group, and a new mixtape, the crew compilation Fulldekk Fullosiphy, and hearing him speak these days, he doesn't sound like a conspiracy theorist so much as someone trying to make sense of a world that has put him on a hell of a rollercoaster ride over the past decade-plus. As he cautiously steps back into the music game, Chingy spoke to XXL about his new projects—including his new single "Damn Girl"—his degrees in numerology, astrology and cosmology and if, after all this time away, his heart is still in music. It's the new Tao of Chingy. —Dan Rys

fulldekk fullosiphy

On his new mixtape, Fulldekk Fullosiphy:

Chingy: Fulldekk Music Group is my independent record label that I'm on artist on as well as CEO and owner. The Fulldekk Fullosiphy title just comes from, you know, I'm still in school. I still study different things in school; I got a degree in Astrology, Numerology, Cosmology, and I'm studying the Metaphysics of Religion, the Metaphysics of Thought. That's got a lot to do with a lot of philosophers and different things I've researched and philosophers I've studied, like Plato and a lot of ancient philosophers. So that's where the Fullosiphy part comes in, and just having a deeper understanding of your view on the world. Whatever it is in the world, the problems and trials and tribulations you go through, just having a deeper understanding of things and a deeper truth.

And then you've got the Fulldekk; "full deck" is meaningful to me in life, because I always say, in life, you've gotta play your cards right, and when I say that I just mean you gotta have a full deck, you've gotta have a mindset, a brain. And so Fulldekk is basically just having a mindset and a focus on what it is in life that you wanna do and you wanna be. So when you put the two together, Fulldekk Fullosiphy is just a meaningful title to me, so I thought it would mean a lot.

And I got a lot of upcoming artists from St. Louis. It's actually a compilation album; I wouldn't even consider it a mixtape, because it's all new free music, you know. But what I was doing—as well as presenting newer music and material from me—I wanted to let people here some of the up-and-coming artists, some of my homeboys that I get down with, that be on the road with me, that perform with me. Lil Bit, M.C., Vega Heartbreak, Soulo, Jus Swift. And give [the fans] a taste of the up-and-coming artists as well, because I'm always supporting the up-and-coming artists from St. Louis. And those guys, I wanted people to see a side of St. Louis that's the up-and-coming artists as well, and that's where the Fulldekk Fullosiphy all comes from. It's basically me supporting the young artists and getting some new music out from me as well.


On going back to school for Astrology and Numerology:

Chingy: Actually, man, what a lot of people don't know is I've been back in school, years ago. You know how a lot of people take time off and get back to it? I've actually always been in school and been learning, so it's a side of me that I didn't just consciously put out there, I kind of was just studying and just doing it.

Since [I was] a kid, I always looked at it like—and some people, if you're not an open-minded person, you don't understand these things or get it, and some people just think you're talking crazy—but I've always thought the planets, the stars, everything, these things go along with us. Without the sun, you and me wouldn't be here. So the sun plays a major role in our lives in some ways; it provides heat—it's good, because it provides heat—if you use too much of the heat it can be bad for you. So that's where you get that good and evil. And I've always said life has its polarity, and that's good and evil and there are degrees in between it.

But like I said, the planets and everything, they play a role in our lives, and we don't—and a lot of people don't, because they don't go to school and study things like that to see what these things mean—they have no knowledge about it, so they just dismiss it. And I was always intrigued by—at night, looking up at the moon, looking up at the stars—you see these things, but you don't have no meaning on it. You don't know what they're really there for, what they stand for. So I just decided to do my research and just get a deeper understanding of these things, and it was something that sparks my interest. And I've always been like that since I was a kid, so I just figured that I'd dig a little deeper into it as I got older.

egyptian ankh

On the school he attends:

Chingy: The school that I attend and that I've been working with is called Khemetian Scientists. And shout out to Dr. Phil Valentine who is my master teacher, who I get a lot of the wisdom from. Khemetian is the ancient word before it was Egyptian, and Egypt was really called Khemit in ancient times. So a lot of the teachings that I've learned and everything come from Khemetian Scientists, which is the school that Dr. Valentine has. And you just learn, you know.

For instance, for people who never knew what the Khemetian Egyptian Ankh (pictured above) represents, when you see it you think it's just some type of cross. But when you're in the know about it, you understand that the Ankh represents the life process. Let's take the top of the Egyptian Ankh; it looks like an oval, but that oval represents the woman's womb. And then the bottom of the Egyptian cross is just like a long, rectangular shape. Well, that represents the male penis, phallus. And I know a lot of the people that don't know this stuff, you get to talking to them and they just think you're crazy. [Laughs] So you got the two sides of the Egyptian Ankh, and when you put together the phallus along with the woman's womb and they meet in the middle, the two sides of the cross represent the boy and the girl, the life process. So you know, it's interesting stuff like that that I've always wanted to understand and learn about ancient civilizations.


On finding Numerological patterns in today's society:

Chingy: You can. If you take the time out to really analyze a lot of things that go on in this world and how they time things, a lot of the government officials and people in politics, they're aware of these sciences. They know how these things really work when it comes to the Zodiac and when it comes to the language that the universe really speaks. And like I said, man, you get to talking about these things and people just think you weird, especially if they don't know what you're talking about. [Laughs] I'm just saying because I've done some interviews where I get to talking about certain stuff, and then you get some people that take a picture or do some video and put it out there and say, "What is Chingy talking about? He's talkin' about the universe?" So it's just funny; a lot of people are so blind and so stuck to materialized things that they have no knowledge of wanting to know nothing different. And so I just think that people like that will never really understand what life is about without knowing certain principles about how the universe works.

You know, it's funny. I got the degree in Numerology, and it's kind of all about adding and reducing. And the funny part about that is, let's say for instance, The Bible; The Bible has a lot to do with Numerology. When you take all the books—Mark, Matthew, John, this and that, and the disciples—well, when you add up the 12 disciples and do some reducing, it all comes back to 33, which we know that 33 was how old Jesus was when he [was crucified]. But it's just got a lot to do with Numerology, The Bible, that's what I'm trying to say. There's a lot more interesting stuff.


On whether his heart is still in music:

Chingy: You know what? At times I feel like it's not. I feel like I don't care about it at times because of a lot of things I went through that I felt like I shouldn't have had to go through. But at times, I feel like, forget it. And I felt like this before I had a record deal, before I had a No. 1 record with "Right Thurr." I felt like this a long time ago, that I used to want to give up. So just because I've been in it now and had some success, I still feel that way sometimes. You know, my heart be out of it sometimes. But once again, I love music and I'm passionate about it, so I can't stop.

Now, you have a lot of these young artists and a lot of artists today, a lot of artists today, man, they just do it because they want a million dollars. They want that Bentley. They want that mansion. And they do it for a lot of the wrong reasons. Now me, I do it for the music. For instance, you got people where I'll be reading certain comments—Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, whatever—and you got these people who are out here that have their own bubbles, their own world with how they view people; they always love to title people the way they want to see them. And so they be like, "Oh, Chingy, he can't come back," and then there's other people like, "Oh, I love Chingy, I can't wait 'til he drops another album." And so you always got that good and evil factor and the degrees in between. Everything is always gonna be positive or negative, good and evil, and the degrees in between.

And in my life, growing up and coming to that understanding, I know that, so I don't pay attention to the negativity that comes from people. Because how that person sees me in their day to day life and how they title me, that don't mean that's what I am. That's just their story in their world and how they want to see me. That don't mean that's what I am. So I don't pay attention to the hatin', I don't pay attention to the negativity, I keep it positive and I move forward. Everybody always says, "Oh, Chingy, you can't come back, you can't come back." For me, it ain't about coming back. I don't care about the coming back part of it. But what I do care about is making good music that the fans appreciate and getting it out there in the best way I can get it out there.


On Being Independent:

Chingy: I'm gonna keep it real whichu; I ain't got $50,000 to keep giving to radio to spin my records like that. I don't got $50,000 to give them every time I drop a record. But the money that I do have—and I can gave them $10,000 here, and a couple thousand here to continue my grind—that's what I'm gonna do. Like I said, when you're independent, that's what you gotta deal with. When you got the major labels backing you and everything, the money pretty much ain't an issue if they're involved in your project like that. But like I said, some people don't understand when you're having that hiatus.

And I'm an artist that people were used to seeing on videos on 106 & Park, on TV with videos that were No. 1 for three months and stuff, songs that were on the radio constantly to the point where you'd get sick of the songs 'cause you'd hear it so much. I'm one of those artists. That's how they view me. So when they ain't heard from me for a while—they don't hear songs on the radio, they don't see videos on TV—to them, I fell off, because that's how they used to see me. They not used to seeing me dropping mixtapes and just doing the social thing. They're used to me doing it for real for real, constantly on the radio, No. 1 videos constantly on TV, and all this.

So that's why people have these certain perceptions when you're not in the public eye in that way, they've got certain perceptions of you and your music, and that's why they think you fell off. And really, I've just been grinding independently. It hasn't been as sweet as it probably could be if I was on a major label or if I had a big record on the radio, but I appreciate the grind and I appreciate working, 'cause I love to work when it comes to my music. That's something that a lot of artists don't do. New artists, and a lot of these artists, they don't like to work they just want somebody to give it to 'em. But that's how I sold all those millions of records. That's how my records got to No. 1. That's from me working, real hard. And it ain't stopped. I'm just independent.


On the lasting legacy of "Right Thurr":

Chingy: I take pride in the fact that I created that. And I created that at the age of 16, and it came out when I was 23, so it was before its time period. And this is one thing I don't get credit for—to me, I made history. And when I say I made history, when I came out, that's how we talk in St. Louis—right thurr, that's how we talk. It's no made up gimmick. And so anywhere in the world I go, people say, "Say right thurr, say right thurr, say right thurr." This is a worldwide thing now. I've changed that—I called it "Chinglish," I don't even call it English—I've changed the way people view the way that we talk in St. Louis. And the dance that came with the song and everything blew up damn near bigger than the song.

That's history. I came in the game and made history. A lot of people don't want to give me credit for it because you've got so many hypocritical people and artists in the business today, and they so turned out by this "being real, being street" shit, that just because... And I'm from the streets, just like a lot of people out here, but I'm not one of those cats who brag about it and make it seem glorious, because that shit was not glorious. [Laughs] It just wasn't. And you know, these hypocrites, they try to separate people that ain't makin' the music—"Shoot him in the head," "Kill this," "Fuck this bitch," and this, this and that—these people always try to separate people who aren't making music that ain't as harsh like that. And I'm not knocking anybody's music or nothing, but it's always that separation if you're not talking about a certain something, you're over here, you're not real. It's silly, you know what I'm saying?

The music industry today is about this: "Oh, you got a hot song? Okay, let's put it out." After that, it's done. It's done. People are coming and going. I can't say I've come and gone. I've got four professional studio albums that came out. I sold over 15 million records. I sold three million records alone in Australia. You don't have many artists anymore that can do that. There's a lot that I don't get credit for, and there's a lot that I felt like I got blackballed for. But that's the evil side of things, and you're not gonna be able to get past it. You've gotta learn how to maneuver and turn that even degree into a good degree.