"Dedicated To The Winners & The Losers..." - Raekwon


Friday, September 5, 2008

Charles Hamilton Makes A Mixtape About His Blog


Personally, I was always a bigger fan of Luigi...

Often rappers who do not have a hell of lot to say become singularly obsessed with something and that becomes the focus of their rhymes. Young Jeezy rhymes about coke and only coke, The Game seems to have an unnatural obsession with rappers from the 1990's and Lil’ Wayne only seems to be interested in sipping cough medicine and convincing people that he receives blowjobs (allegedly) from a large, assortment of women (and not Birdman). As for Charles Hamilton, he seems to only want to rap about the internet and his Sega Genesis which may in fact, make him the most interesting rapper to migrate out of Harlem since Cameron Giles saw his first pink fur coat in a Hot Topic on 125th Street.

Charles Hamilton is a weird dude. He is a Cleveland-born (Hollaback, y’all!), Harlem-raised emcee/producer signed to Interscope Records who sounds like the illegitimate cousin of Pharoahe Monch biting Kanye West’s flow and Lil’ Wayne’s delivery; not to mention he has penchant for crooning terribly off-key and vocoder infused interpolations of recognizable tunes as hooks. Hamilton has a deep affinity bordering on Stan-like standom with Sonic the effin’ Hedgehog and seems to inexplicably loathe Lupe Fiasco to the point where you wonder if Lupe fucked his girlfriend despite being his artistic cousin. A prolific blogger, Hamilton runs and maintains several websites dedicated to the glories of himself and the music that he makes. Hamilton has an eclectic taste in music that manifests itself in songs that sample everything from Willy Wonka to the motherfucking Microsoft Windows start-up sound. Yes, Charles Hamilton is a weird dude. He’s also kind of brilliant.

Hamilton’s new mixtape with DJ Skee, “The Death of the Mixtape Rapper”, is Hamilton’s first mixtape in the upcoming “Hamiltonization Process” series. The mixtape follows in the tradition and promise of Hamilton’s earlier mixtapes, this year’s great “Outside Looking” and “Crash Landed.” The mixtape follows the formula outlaid in Hamilton's earlier work - catchy, familiar hooks, clever pop culture laced rhymes, and production that samples from familiar but diverse material. On the Pete Rock-laced opener, Hamilton borrows from the "Theme to The Exorcist" to create an eerie, low-key bragfest. While the mixtape isn't quite up to bar with it's two excellent predecessors as it features too many obvious moments like a prerequisite "A Millie" freestyle (Seriously people, stop! It's not even that good of a beat.), the mixtape does offer some particularly interesting moments that are some of the year's best music put to date. Hamilton seems to have a affinity for technology and the internet that seems to make him one of the first true post-modern emcees I've heard.

Soulja Boy, for all his vacuous inanities and forays into utter ignorance, has shown the music industry the power of properly harnessing the internet for promotion which is a lesson that Charles Hamilton seems to have taken to heart. On "Death Of The Mixtape Rapper", it seems Hamilton spends, at least, half of the albums on the song promoting his various blogs, websites, and MySpace pages. This wouldn't even necessarily even be that strange if he were casually shouting his website at the end of the songs or during the musical interludes but instead, Hamilton makes self-promotion the focus of the song. On the mixtape's musical centerpiece, "Windows Media Player" which miraculously samples the ubiquitous "Windows start-up sound", is an ode to the promotion of his blog. The chorus of the song is literally him chanting the web addresses of his various websites. On "Twitter 16", Charles turns a call for a girl to check out his Twitter feed into a (sort-of) seductive come-on. What's interesting about Charles' obsession with technology is the circular and absurd post-modernity of it all. Hamilton uses his music as promotion for his websites which in turn are promotion for his music. It's a feedback loop that allows him to build and interact with his audience as well as constantly release new music. "The Hamiltonization Process", Charles' upcoming mixtape series, is an eight part series being jointly released on many of the major hip hop music sharing blogs such as Nah Right, 2dopeboyz, and OnSmash. These sites have revolutionized the way music is shared as many music labels directly release music to them as a way to cheaply and effectively promote their music and Hamilton knows this. Being a child of the '90s and in turn the generation that grew up illegally downloading music, he understands the importance that the internet plays in the lives of young people and so using these sites to promote his music only serves to feed into the cleverly cultivated feeback loop that he has been building. Hell, it's how I became turned onto his music.

All of this would matter not and be incredibly annoying if he didn't have the musical skills to back it up. While Hamilton comes from the Kanye school of lyricism and thus at times, his metaphors and flow seem forced and a bit awkward, as a producer and an artist, Charles is one of the most prolific samplers of diverse and an avant-garde samples since Prince Paul picked up an MPC. Hamilton often uses easy identifiable but still culturally obscure samples in his music. Of the music that he has released, he has sampled: The Offspring, the Goo Goo Dolls, Willy Wonka, Mr. Rogers, Charlie Brown, Staind, Madonna, the Exorcist Theme and various different themes from the soundtrack to Genesis games. Hamilton eschews the traditional soul sample or synthesizer heavy music that modern rap has come to rely upon to create a more eclectic and possibly universal sound. It's hard not to smile when he uses such a recognizable but obscure samples to craft a rap song. I'll be amazed if he's able to clear any of the samples for his major label debut.

Charles Hamilton is poised to be the proverbial the next big thing but I suppose it all depend on his ability to translate his promotional swagger into music that will hold up over the course of an album. Still, it's nice to see a young kid breaking away from the molds that traditional rap both mainstream and independent and carving his own niche out. Now where's my fucking Genesis?

Download: Charles Hamilton & DJ Skee - The Death Of The Mixtape Rapper

Download: Charles Hamilton & DJ Green Lantern - Outside Looking (Recommended)

29 comments:

JK said...

Damn, I was gonna write about him but you covered everything I could really write. He found his little niche and he has occasional flashes of brilliance, kinda like "Super Sonic". Had to drop a Sonic reference.

tray said...

I like "Windows Media Player." Although I think it would almost work better as an instrumental, or as one of those cheesy techno songs with a Swedish girl singing on it. He's better than Lupe though. Did you notice, by the way, that "The Recession (Intro)" uses the same sample as Cam's classic "Girls, Cash, Cars"?

quan said...

Excellent post and like jk, pretty much exactly what I wanted to write about kid myself. Thanks for beating me to the punch. Back the drawing board.

Ass Hat said...

thanks - will have to give these two tapes a listen, on the strength of this write-up.

then again, any rapper who samples staind is surely worth checking out...

Jesus Shuttlesworth said...

those swedish techno songs are amazing. always.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0OzWIFX8M-Y

DocZeus said...

"then again, any rapper who samples staind is surely worth checking out..."

Well he just jacks their hook and uses his own interpolation of it.

tray said...

Oh yeah, Dota's the best. I assume you've heard Pretty Rave Girl - it's the English-language beatjack.

you can get deez nuts said...

The "too many obvious moments like a prerequisite "A Millie" freestyle" that you spoke of were put there on purpose and tie into the "death of the mixtape rapper" theme... It's all a joke

DocZeus said...

"The "too many obvious moments like a prerequisite "A Millie" freestyle" that you spoke of were put there on purpose and tie into the "death of the mixtape rapper" theme... It's all a joke"

Even still while I like the mixtape, I thought the first couple of mixtapes he dropped were superior because of the original material. I realize he did put in that corny white A&R guy to be able to get away with doing a fucking Millie freestyle.

Jesus Shuttlesworth said...

no, i haven't heard of pretty rave girl, but i will soon. when did it come out?

tray said...

Quite a while ago, jesus. Also, doc, The Recession is bad. His worst album yet by far. I'll have to review it on my blog.

DocZeus said...

"Also, doc, The Recession is bad. His worst album yet by far"

There's no way it as heinous as "The Inspiration." Awful record.

tray said...

So in what ways is the Recession better? Some scant references to the economy? Vague attacks on Bush? More hamfisted soul samples? Like who told him that it would be a good idea to rap over the same Willie Hutch record that Freeway and Scarface just killed on Free's record? Or to do this singsongy thing with his flow every other song? Or to lose all the adlibs? I think there are about 5-6 good songs on this album.

DocZeus said...

Tray-

No, it's more about the fact that the record isn't as nearly as tedious to listen to as the other two. I think there's some different variety in the record and the song-writings better. The other two are like listening to the same song for an hour and half. Literally, the same song.

Jesus Shuttlesworth said...

"Like who told him that it would be a good idea to rap over the same Willie Hutch record that Freeway and Scarface just killed on Free's record? Or to lose all the adlibs?"

funny that he would copy one of free's beats and stop jocking the adlibs. seems he was listening.

Jesus Shuttlesworth said...

"Like who told him that it would be a good idea to rap over the same Willie Hutch record that Freeway and Scarface just killed on Free's record? Or to lose all the adlibs?"

funny that he would copy one of free's beats and stop jocking the adlibs. seems he was listening.

Trey Stone said...

Doc, when you talk songwriting are you just referring to lyrics? cuz as far as actual song structure i think it's pretty impossible to argue that there's better songwriting here. the hooks all suck and a lot of the time he sounds like he's just bullshitting/screaming over the track where the adlibs actually fit in before with the sound of the records.

on Inspiration he had talented producers interpreting his sound too, where here he's seemed to've gone the G-Unit hacks no one knows about approach. "I Luv It"/"Go Getta"/"3 A.M." alone kill this album

Trey Stone said...

oh, and not to be an asshole, i'll check out this Hamilton dude

tray said...

Yeah, trey and I agree. The tray/trey collaborative dream lives on. Anyway, I agree that the Inspiration is kind of like one huge song. The first three, in particular, really flow right into each other. But that's a big part of what I liked about the album. Instead of jumping around, like most albums do these days, it's one huge, monolithic (yes, monolithic), sinister vibe. As for the songwriting on this album, I think it's really poor. Like, was it a good songwriting idea to, on "Who Dat," sample a catchy but inane line from the first verse and make it the hook, and then let the producer remind you, over and over, that it's Shawty Redd on the track? Or to, on Welcome Back, have Jeezy saying 'welcome back' to himself? It just underscores that he hadn't really been missed. Or what about the awful hook on By The Way? And Get Allot (Of That)? Is a really lazy remake of Ambitions As A Rider a good songwriting idea? Has a worse obligatory Southern chick song ever been made than "Takin It There"? It made me nostalgic for "Tear It Up." Seriously. I'm all for really stupid stuff, but there were so many points on this album where I was like, "well this is just a little too retarded." Everything on here was like a bad remake of a song on the first two albums. "Don't Do It" is like this album's shitty "Dreamin," "Circulate" is like this album's shitty "Mr. 17.5," "Word Play" is like a slightly worse "What You Talkin Bout," "Crazy World" is a watered-down "Air Forces," and so on.

DocZeus said...

Went it comes down to it-

I've never been able to get through "The Inspiration" or the "Thug Motivation 101" in one sitting without being bored to tears and feeling like my intelligence was just insulted. I was able to sit through the Recession.

I can't win with you people. I praise one of these shitty mainstream rappers you people like and you're like this isn't his best shitty album, you should like the other shitty album.

Fine. They all equally suck.

tray said...

Well, I've posted my review on paytray.blogspot.com. Anyway, I think your problem is that, as a Jeezy-hater, you naturally gravitate to his less Jeezy-esque work. Simiarly, I hate Lupe, but really enjoy 'I Gotcha' - which, I'm informed by Lupe fanatics, is actually the worst song on Food And Liquor. I, however, think it's probably one of the only three good songs he ever made, not counting mixtapes and all that. Of course, I'm right about this, but if you're into that kind of thing, I could see where "I Gotcha" might pale into comparison to I've Got A Go Go Gadget Vibrator and The Preachy Song Where Rappers Who Dare To Film Videos with Swimming Pools Get Shitted On and all that other garbage.

Trey Stone said...

i know tray's doing his usual in-depth analysis here (i agree with him in this case, just that i'd put it a little more...out-depth?,) but really i was just wondering how you define songwriting. cuz when i think songwriting i think structure, not just lyrics.

...and what do you mean, you people

DocZeus said...

"I Gotcha" is bad because the beat is eighth generation Pharrell without Chad wackness and it completely doesn't fit in with the rest of the album. It's like this pandering pop rap island that just reeks of label-forced fuckery except it's not even good wholesome ignorant pop rap, it's just wack.

Although, I do admit writing a song about how he smells good is kind of insane genius in the R. Kelly lament.

I still think people dislike Lupe on general principle because he's skewering quite presciently people's favorite music and they don't appreciate it. I mean "Daydreamin" is basically "Stakes Is High '06" and I'm not even saying that with a trace of irony.

Although, I get pissed at Lupe when he pretends to be anything other than a New York boom bap rap traditionalist. There's now way after making a song-like "Paris, Tokyo" that Lupe didn't spend all of his eighth grade year bumping Midnight Marauders. Stop frontin' as if you grew up listening to Eightball/MJG and Spice-1, homeboy! It reeks of Southern pandering!

tray said...

Yeah. I've never even (get ready for a shocking admission) heard Midnight Marauders and I knew Paris Tokyo was a Tribe homage. I think I Gotcha is a nice, bouncy beat, not really very pop at all, and that, uh, it's about a little more than how nice he smells. You know, I don't really agree with what De La was saying on Stakes Is High either. Like who were they really getting at, if you think about it? People like Jay and Biggie and Puffy. It's still a great song, though, because they're great rappers rapping with a lot of conviction over a classic beat. Daydreamin's the same message, but presented in a vastly less sympathetic way. It's the difference between righteous indignation and leaden parody ("Where's the champagne? We need the champagne"). Anyway, there's no objective answer to what's better, "I Gotcha" or the rest of Lupe's catalogue - my point is just that, given that you don't like Jeezy, it would make sense that you'd like what's, from a Jeezy fan's perspective, his worst album.

Trey Stone said...

i mean people can go back and forth about how Lupe's detractors only don't like him because he's revealing The Truth and his supporters overhyping him for that same reason, but the dude raps over boring beats that are either melodramatic Just Blaze/Kanye-lite, bad left-field experiments or both, and doesn't have an interesting style. i know that's why i'm not a fan. if he actually had good music behind him, might be a different story.

Jesus Shuttlesworth said...

"Like who were they really getting at, if you think about it? "

nas, in his first reinvention, pac post prison and all those nameless dudes that time forgot for chasing trends. with the first two, i am inclined to disagree with de la, but i still think their overall point stands.

tray said...

Jiggy era rap was like anything - some of the people doing it were great at it, most weren't. But I don't think there's anything wrong in principle with rapping about the stuff they were rapping about. The only problem I have with Versace-rap, crack-rap, syrup-and-swanger-rap, is that when those sorts of things are the trend they tend to crowd everything else out.

Jesus Shuttlesworth said...

i think that wsa de la's real point. they weren't so mad at the idea of telling stories of doing lines of coke with "20 cent andrew jacksons," it was that the music world only seemed to care about on type of rap (or one region, for that matter) at a time. like the boring, boring phrase, they just wanted some balance.

Anonymous said...

[url=http://gallery.veafoorea.ru/socialization-of-russian-women.html]socialization of russian women[/url] [url=http://gallery.veafoorea.ru/russian-military-women.html]russian military women[/url] [url=http://gallery.veafoorea.ru/old-russian-woman.html]old russian woman[/url] [url=http://gallery.veafoorea.ru/russian-women-nudes-free-photos.html]russian women nudes free photos[/url]