The Charles Hamiltonization Process
Who is Charles Hamilton? That’s what I wanted to know when I was tasked with interviewing the ascending lyricist/producer. Ask him and he’ll simply say “I’m just a musician,” with a sly laugh.
He describes his sound as “mind bending, experimental–just different sounds that are pleasurable to one’s ear.” Off top, I knew that this was not another run-of-the-mill correctional officer turned Tony Montana; Syrupped-out, overrated, half-pint farce of an emcee, nor another mush-mouthed, caricature of a thug, goon, hoodlum or urban vagrant, that thinks he can earn stripes on his shoulder with a trip to the tat shop.
OKP: I hear that you’re planning a series of musical; releases over an established time frame. Could you elaborate on that?
CH: I would say eight to nine releases within two months. The music series is called “The Hamiltonization Process.” (During phase 1, Charles released Death of the Mixtape Rapper. Charles embarked on phase 2 of the Process releasing the controversial And They Played Dilla.)
The first one on my blog is The Best Blogger Alive and I’ve been catching it for that title. I’m bringing my world to music, as opposed to being in the music world. I’d rather show people that there is a music industry, and then there’s Charles Hamilton’s life.
OKP: Would you put yourself in the same vein as any established music artists?
CH: I’m glad that people are being progressive, but I just don’t see anybody doing what I’m doing. As arrogant as that may sound, I’m comfortable enough in my own skin to be able to do whatever I feel like doing musically, and have the confidence to do music and not worry about what the next person is doing, so I wouldn’t put myself in any lane.
OKP: What’s your mission in music?
CH: It’s funny that you ask me that. I actually have a project that pretty much explains my mission. The mission is basically to make music an art form again, whereas people aren’t going to look at it to examine if it’s hot or wack but just enjoy the artistic value.
Artists like Picasso would make these really abstract paintings, but could still, obviously, do the whole stick figure thing. You have to ask yourself–why would he choose to make a stick-figure here, then over here he used so many different colors and patterns. It’s just understanding the art, as opposed to aiming at a business. . . like making something hot so people can enjoy it and not think about it, or making something that is so thought provoking that it’s untouchable.
OKP: How do you feel about the current state of hip-hop?
CH: Progression, or lack thereof: There needs to be a progression. I think people are so used to there being a select group of artists that bring progression that nobody wants to hear from a new artist right now. They’d (music fans) rather be complacent. Like “ah yeah, whatever, this new guy sounds like this old guy that brings change. I can’t wait until the old guy that brings change comes back again.”
OKP: So what we need is a hip-hop renaissance, a rebirth?
CH: You took the words right out of my mouth. Renaissance is the right word because I think hip-hop was a music genre that represented a progression, and then it got stale. I sample a lot of music–that’s the essence of hip-hop, like break-dancing. A break-dancer would have to experiment with movement, and a producer has to experiment with sound. Ultimately, the most important aspect of hip-hop music is sampling, because sampling is simply elevated inspiration.
The other thing . . . ask some of these producers who “don’t sample” what key their %!#@! is in. They can’t tell you. There are extremely talented producers out there, musicians that present musician’s art like Sean C and L.V., I love their production. J.R. the dude that did The Boss Rick Ross–he’s a music graduate.
There are a lot of dudes out there that really understand and appreciate music, and are simply making a dumbed down sound, which is to be applauded and chastised. At the same time you have to understand music in order to make the best pop music.
I think hip-hop needs to get more musical. We all don’t have to be The Roots but we should at least know and be responsible for what we’re doing and saying on a record, and that’s before we even get into content.
OKP: What sets you apart from other hip-hop artists?
CH: I’m a musician.
I compare being a musician to being a minority. I feel like there is a (minority) race of musicians and the current state of music is racist. The purity of being a musician is not accepted anymore.
I don’t know … I feel like I’m … some days I wake up and read my blog and I feel like only five people are reading it and there are only four people that actually care, and I know three of the four people. I definitely feel alone, but I’m sure that there were a lot of great leaders that felt alone while they were going against the grain, doing what they were compelled to do. So if that reads like I ‘m calling myself a great leader, I’ll take whatever arrogant assessments, you know, people calling me arrogant–I’ll take that. I’ll take that with a grin actually, because I’m not here to make you feel good about my existence; I’m here to feel good about my existence while I’m bringing you the best possible product from my soul.
OKP: What music do currently you have in rotation?
CH: The Best of the Stylistics, Incubus Morning View, the Sonic the Hedgehog 2 soundtrack–all of the music from the videogame.
I’ve been listening to that because a lot of the core progressions and melodies in that still have yet to be duplicated. I make original beats too, but those are in a secret stash. I’ll usually layer lyrics and original beats over a sample to enhance the feel and sound. I want to create sounds that are going to capture people’s attention for a long time. I want people to lose themselves in my music.
OKP: Do you have any special guests on your musical series?
CH: Yeah, yeah I’m keeping very, very tight-lipped about that.
OKP: And you’re going to keep it that way?
CH: Yeah, ahh man, you’ll hear it when it drops.
OKP: Fair enough. After this series of projects hits, what’s the best-case-scenario effect?
CH: For people to be open minded, I want people to be ready for my honesty, which gets me into a lot of trouble. I want people to understand, that I plan on being as honest as I can with my project and as musically open as I plan on being.
OKP: What hip hop artists have inspired you?
CH: I’ve got to think about this, I don’t want to give you a generic answer like Jay-Z or Nas, but they have inspired me. Andre 3000, I’ve never heard a wack verse from him and he always pushes the envelope, and also MC Lyte. I have yet to hear anything lackluster from Andre.
I’d like to work with both 3000 and Dr. Dre. Yo, I’ve got a pair of his new headphones on my shoulders right now, they’re so stupid. Like they’re the best headphones out. They destroy Bose.
In closing, I need people to stay open-minded, don’t hate if you don’t need to.
– Mel Blunt
Listen to Charles Hamilton’s “Runaway Groom”