Charles Eddie-Lee Hamilton, Jr. (born November 10, 1987), is an American hip hop recording artist and record producer from Harlem, New York City, New York. Hamilton gained major recognition after being featured on the cover of the XXL's 2009 Freshmen cover issue and signing a record deal with Interscope Records, in 2008. Hamilton is also known for using the animated character Sonic The Hedgehog as his mascot and trademark. Hamilton is also known for his admiration of the color pink.
Early life and career beginnings:
Hamilton was raised in Harlem, New York, Hamilton was exposed to music at an early age. "My mother was an entertainment journalist for the Cleveland Call and Post, so she would take me with her to events when I was just a baby." Hamilton stated his mother always made sure he had an instrument around him. His mother put different kinds of instruments in the basement of their Cleveland home, but he naturally gravitated to the keyboard. Hamilton has stated, "At first, I was just playing the rhythm of the songs I would hear... The older I got, the more proficient I got at hearing the notes." For most of his life, Hamilton was self-taught. Picking up the lead and bass guitar in his teenage years, as well as the drums and harmonica. Hamilton has stated that listening to other genres of music, being exposed to different cultures and experiencing life helped mold his musical sound. Hamilton would leave from his mother's home at the age of 18 & would at times be homeless spending his nights at his friends houses.
Hamilton would later utilize a studio built at the Frederick Douglass Academy owned by current student at the time Howard "HcHo" Burke & would later sign to Burke's label Demevolist Music Group where he would later become president. Hamilton would spend countless hours in the studio, developing his craft & his own signature sound. Hamilton stated, "The Lab (FDA's studio) means so much to me, because when I literally didn't have anywhere else to go in the world, I can just go into my beloved alma mater and purge myself creatively." The studio in the Frederick Douglass Academy is where most of Charles Hamilton's music is made. Hamilton has also stated, regarding FDA's studio, that "I can do my thing in other studios. It's just something about home that makes my music breathe."
Hamilton met future manager Le'Roy Benros after offering to help with a music event that he was organising. When Benros eventually heard his music he was "blown away" and arranged a meeting at Hamilton's high school in Harlem. Benros set about promoting his first client in any way that he could, burning CDs, putting him on at showcases and securing his first appearance on the influential blog "You Heard That New". He also managed to introduce Hamilton to Theo Sedlmayr, one of the most powerful entertainment lawyers in the music industry.
2008-2009: Mixtapes, Interscope Records and This Perfect Life:
On June 9, 2008 Hamilton released his debut mixtape Crashed Landed. On June 27, 2008 Hamilton released his mixtape Outside Looking. On August 14, 2008 during an interview Hamilton announced he was officially signed to Interscope Records. On September 2, 2008 Hamilton released his mixtape Death Of The Mixtape Rapper. On September 16, 2008 Hamilton released his mixtape And Then They Played Dilla the mixtape was a dedication to producer J Dilla, the mixtape cover was based on J Dilla's critically acclaimed album Donuts. On September 30, 2008 Hamilton & Demevolist Music Group released their mixtape Staff Development. On October 15, 2008 Hamilton released his mixtape It's Charles Hamilton, the mixtape cover was based on Nas critically acclaimed album Illmatic. On October 28, 2008 Hamilton released his mixtape The L Word. On November 11, 2008 Hamilton released his mixtape Sonic The Hamilton. On November 18, 2008 Hamilton released his debut single "Brooklyn Girls", the music video would feature a cameo appearance from pornographic actress Lacey Duvalle who Hamilton had earlier during that year made a dedication song towards her entitled "Lacey Duvalle". On November 25, 2008 Hamilton released his mixtape Intervention. On December 8, 2008 Hamilton released his mixtape entitled The Pink Lavalamp, the mixtape was originally supposed to had been released as Hamilton's debut studio album, but due to Hamilton disagreements with Interscope Records about having his single "Brooklyn Girls" put on the album, he decided it would be best to release it as a mixtape instead. In 2008 Hamilton was chosen for the 2009 XXL Freshmen cover along with rappers Wale, B.o.B, Asher Roth, Cory Gunz, Blu, Mickey Factz, Ace Hood, Curren$y & Kid Cudi.
Hamilton was to be releasing his first studio album on Interscope, entitled This Perfect Life, in 2009. According to Hamilton's blog at the time, the album was to be released digitally on June 23, 2009, and the physical copy in stores on August 25, 2009. The album was supposed to be Hamilton's major label debut and the first album distributed by a major record label for free download on Charles Hamilton's own website. There was also a physical copy of the album that would have to be purchased in stores that included a DVD of animated videos to help the listener get a better feel for the music. On August 17, 2009 Hamilton released This Perfect Life EP as promotion for the album. After months of speculation, the album was never released as a result of Hamilton getting dropped from Interscope on September 19, 2009 for multiple reasons, including but not limited to his poor performance at a Penn State rap battle and his unapproved crediting of J Dilla. Manager Le'Roy Benros later explained why he felt Hamilton's career stalled by telling HitQuarters:
"I think things happened too fast. I don't think we were well prepared for what was given to us."
On September 24, 2009 This Perfect Life the full album was released digitally by Hamilton himself & was leaked on various websites.
2010-present: Mixtapes, EPs & Unreleased albums:
On March 25, 2010, Hamilton released his mixtape entitled The Binge Vol. 3: Charles Hamilton's Last Mixtape. Although he announced that The Binge Vol. 3 would be his last mixtape, Hamilton, along with fellow rapper B.o.B, released a video trailer on March 29, 2010 to promote the song "Paperboy". In the video, B.o.B hinted that the two may be making a mixtape together. The single "Paperboy" ended up being released on May 21, 2010 and was produced by Woody. Also in March, Hamilton dedicated a song called "Choices (A Wave to Alex)" in honor of a friend who died after getting in the car with a drunk driver." Hamilton released a new single called "Gauchos" on May 4, 2010. On July 3, 2010, Hamilton released six mixtapes entitled Well This Isn't Awkward (Winner Takes All), Autumn Harvest, Gynophobia, Atlantis and A..., 10 Things I Hate About Me and The L Word II (INcomplete). On August 12, 2010 Hamilton released his compilation album originally to be his debut studio album for Interscope Records T.A.F.I.E.T.U (The Album For Interscope Executives To Understand), but due to Interscope dislike for the tracks "North Pole" & "Laffy Taffy Outro" it was shelved by the label. On September 9, 2010 Hamilton released his extended play entitled For Your Locker.
On September 23, 2011, one day after his discharge from Community Assessment & Treatment Services Rehab, Hamilton released two mixtapes, Gynophobia 2 & C.A.T.S. Can. Early morning of October 4, 2011, Hamilton publicly released his mixtape What the Hell Is Wrong with You?! the project was written during his rehabilitation & later recorded following his discharge from rehab on September 22, 2011.
On June 18, 2012 on his Twitter Hamiltion announced that he was releasing an independent album entitled Ill Doesn't Mean Classic it would include the Eminem produced song "I Don't Care", it was released as a mixtape on July 7, 2012. On July 30, 2012, Hamilton released a collaboration mixtape entitled Cinematic Hallucinations: The Bully And The Pet with rapper S.K.E. The Heistman. On August 17, 2012 during an interview Hamilton talked about his change in his music stating "When I was incarcerated, my songs got a little more aggressive, but after I did some time and came back to NYC, I was a little upset at my fans because they were saying some pretty harsh things about me when I was locked up. This is not how you should approach somebody whos been showing you guys free love". Hamilton also talked about how mental illness & drug use didn't have nothing to do with him taking a step back from music stating "People were blaming insanity because certain details didn't hit the surface, but it had nothing to do with drugs, it had nothing to do with alcohol". Hamilton also discussed about his former deal with Interscope Records stating "MC Lyte said it best it was a fight to get me off Interscope. I put out more projects than the entire Interscope roster from 2008 to 2010, and it took Eminem to come out & trump that, as far as getting physical sales numbers. Interscope had to choose between traditional & the new wave, and I said this new wave costs yall less money and less compromise but it took people on the inside to say to Interscope yall don't know what you're doing with this kid. Alot of the inner workings weren't made clear to me, & I took it very personally". On December 21, 2012 Hamilton released his extended play entitled The Come Down.
On April 18, 2013 Hamilton's other shelved Interscope debut studio album Substance Abuse was leaked.
On April 1, 2014 Hamilton released a collaboration album with rappers Spud Mack & S.K.E. Heistman entitled Hip Hop. On May 30, 2014 it was announced Hamilton allowed a friend to release his albums My Heart & The Zone though Hamilton would later claim that this was false, My Heart was originally supposed to be released as Charles Hamilton's debut studio album in 2010 while he was signed to NewCo Records but it was shelved by Hamilton.
2014-present: TBA album:
On October 16, 2014 Hamilton announced via his blog that he had finally started working on his debut studio album & that he would not be releasing anymore free projects stating:
I got good news and bad news... The good news is, I'm finally working on my debut retail album. It sounds amazing so far. Everyone is excited about it. The bad news is, no more free music. Odds are, ever. No loopholes. Which means, Vampire Sunlight might be the last free release, & The Evil Microchip will not drop. Not even on YouTube. Sorry, Markus. But a major thank you is in order for everyone who's helped me this far. Everyone from Boe and Dre to Jimmy Iovine. All the graphic designers who have made covers, all the fans who uploaded my music, everyone. Thank you. My digital revolution has taken the Galaxy by storm, and I'm proud of it. It's just time to take things to a higher level. Hopefully, yall will support me. I'm not gonna throw the fact you've heard all my secrets for free in your face. But honestly, I would personally appreciate it if you went out and supported whatever I put in stores. More news to come, but once again, no free music indefinitely. Hold your head, kids...
On January 17, 2015 Hamilton officially returned on social media after starting back up his twitter account & creating his own Instagram page, on his first posted photo Hamilton would state "The hype is real. Hello again. #rapgame #letsdothis #hiphop". On January 23, 2015 Hamilton had a surprise performance with singer/songwriter/actress/model Rita Ora performing a collaboration track entitled "NY Raining". On January 26, 2015 it was announced that Hamilton had signed with record label/management company Turn First Records. On February 18, 2015 it was announced & confirmed that Hamilton had signed a second label deal with Republic Records, it was also announced that Hamilton's 1st single "NY Raining" featuring singer/songwriter/actress/model Rita Ora from his debut album would be featured on the first soundtrack for Fox's Empire.
Record production and Songwriting:
Hamilton also produces records & song writes for other artist as well, Hamilton is known for producing a majority of his own records. Hamilton is also known in his production style for his sampling of soul songs. In 2007 during an interview Hamilton talked about his sampling methods Stating "When I sample, I'm not just doing it to sound good. I'm trying to tell a story. To convey an emotion. If I sampled it, there is a reason I sampled it. I believe that music is based on moments, and that there are some moments that people may have missed back in the day. They may have even missed it a year ago. When I sample, I'm giving the artist their respect, while simultaneously creating something new."
Demevolist Music Group:
Burke founded the record label Demevolist Music Group (DMG) in 2005, while he was attending Frederick Douglass Academy, he would later make Hamilton the president of the label. In 2008, the label signed to a distribution deal at Interscope, but in 2009 the label would be dropped by Interscope due to the controversy that was surrounding current president at the time Charles Hamilton.
The Chosen Few
Hamilton has frequently named American rapper Eminem as his biggest influence in his music. On May 6, 2009 during an issue of XXL Eminem revealed he had worked with Hamilton in late 2007 & fellow artist B.o.B. stating "Charles Hamilton I've worked with a couple of years ago, toward the end of 2007. I just made the beat to a song, but, you know, Charles Hamilton is dope." On May 12, 2010 Hamilton penned a 1,000 word open dedication letter to Eminem.
Hamilton has also named artists Incubus, N.E.R.D., Jay-Z, Modest Mouse, Korn, Dr. Dre, Thelonious Monk, Aerosmith, 50 Cent, Marilyn Manson, Alchemist, The Isley Brothers, Kanye West, Nine Inch Nails, Hi-Tek, DMX & Mase as other influences in his music, stating "I just love good music. Good music that tells a story."
Hamilton is the cousin of fellow rapper MC Lyte.
On June 4, 2008 Hamilton discussed his admiration & his philosophy on the color Pink stating "God is a woman, pink is the color of life, you give life wit a man into the woman & pink is the inside of the woman's womb.
On September 11, 2008 during a interview Hamilton discussed his past former drug addiction dealing with Marijuana, Heroin & Psilocybin mushroom's.
On July 27, 2010 it was announced by Hamilton during an interview that he had checked himself into a Psychiatric hospital stating: "My stay here is like identical to my stay in the industry. As far as being the new guy in here having to deal with politics and people trying to control you. The critics would have to be the doctors and the rounds. So you can say this is like an experiment to see if the industry is really like an asylum or if I was the one bugging. Some say the industry is like high school but its just like a mental hospital. All I wanted to do and still want to do is make music, he explained. It got to the point where I started talking in rhymes all the time, even in just regular conversations. And music just became me, so I thought it be a good idea if I checked into the hospital just to get my mind right."
On August 10, 2010 after being released Hamilton discussed in an interview his stay at the Psychiatric hospital & why upon filming of his release in a video why he was in a wheelchair stating:"The reason Im in a wheelchair is because I have sharp pains since I was in the hospital and a lil bit before, he said. I have sharp pains when Im walking and literally I want to collapse but I can't I have to continue to walk. So my right leg has been acting kinda funny. I still have a lil mobility, I can still stand up in the booth but I'd rather the mobility of my legs be jeopardized than my musicality be jeopardized at any given point of time."
On December 20, 2010 Hamilton was arrested in Cleveland, Ohio after assaulting an officer. On February 11, 2011 Hamilton would post bail for $25,000 & was referred for psychiatric treatment.
On May 22, 2009 a video went viral of Hamilton freestyling and then getting assaulted by his girlfriend and fellow rapper at the time Briana Latrise due to Hamilton rapping "Ok, call me irresponsible and immature, but you're beautiful, what the hell else would I hit it for? Now I can say that I hit it raw but that would mean that you will to have to get a abor or I just not need to go there." On May 25, 2009 both of them during an interview publicly apologized to each other with Hamilton saying "I apologize honestly for putting some things out there that shouldn't have been out there. I understand it; it was the heat of the moment and I didn't get the chance to really talk to you about it. I just wanted to tell you I apologize because I know what I shouldn't have said." With Latrise saying, "I'm going to thank you for your apology. I'm going to apologize for acting outside of the norm. We're going to talk about our personal business, on our personal time."
In 2009 Hamilton caused some controversy when his debut album This Perfect Life cover was released and the deceased producer J Dilla, was named as executive producer. A handful of Dilla's closest associates through hip hop began speaking out against Hamilton's use of the name and it's connection to his music. Hamilton later stated he wished to financially help J Dilla's mother who had thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura, the same illness that took J Dilla's life. J Dilla's name was later removed from the album artwork due to legal reasons.
Text from this biography licensed under creative commons license