Artist: Charles Hamilton
Representing: Frederick Douglas Academy
Mixtape: Sonic the Hamilton
411: He's signed to Interscope, but that isn't the only thing Charles Hamilton has in common with
"I believe God is a woman, and pink is the color of life because it's the color of inside a woman's womb," he said about his affinity for the hue. He won't be caught dead without it. On the day he talked to Mixtape Monday, he sported custom-made pink
Insert disclaimer here: Hamilton isn't a nut. "I'm not crazy," he claimed, before explaining the concept of the latest mixtape in his series of what he calls the Hamiltonizataion process. " 'Sonic' means 'sound.' Hedgehogs bury themselves under the ground. I bury myself into sound. So Sonic the Hamilton, [the concept is] one morning I woke up physically as Sonic the Hedgehog. That's it. ... Every song is like a scene in this movie. I'm dealing with literally being Sonic. My feet look like sneakers, but they are my feet. The white gloves are actually my hands. I'm physically that.
"It's an anthropomorphic creature," he continued. "I'm not human, but I have to live in a world that's human. How are they gonna respond to me? Am I gonna still have fans? Is the government gonna try to get me into some crazy experiment? Am I gonna be killed? All types of crazy stuff is gonna be put into music because that's all Sonic knows how to do. If you think about it, they make it seem like all Sonic's power is running — but, if 'sonic' means 'sound,' wouldn't his power be everything you heard in that game? Music is power. I used to get my ass beat every day after school until I started rapping."
Just a few years ago, the now 21-year-old was cutting class at Harlem's Frederick Douglass Academy to go the school auditorium to play the piano. Instead of detention, the principal nurtured his young pupil's zeal for music and encouraged Charles to take a leap of faith and pursue it professionally. The road from first period to burgeoning Internet sensation was rough for the Cleveland transplant, who once battled heroin addiction and survived a stint of homelessness. He spent plenty of nights at the FDA, recording out of necessity. He had nowhere else to go.
"I learned to sleep standing up," he said, remembering one night where he caught a few winks in the vocal booth.
"I could have said no to the first blunt, I could have said no to the first needle," Hamilton insisted, advising no one to cry any tears for him. "I had my reasons, which made sense at the time. Now I'm feeling the aftermath of it. So I'm not proud of it. I'm proud of how strong I am now. If I can do it again, I'd had a clear mind from the get-go. I'm coming back to reality, slowly but surely, and I'm making this music. If I always had a clear mind, I'd be the Yanni of this generation. It scares me sometimes when I write stuff down."
Charles gets the Mixtape Monday co-sign for being nice. Don't believe us, though: Ask
» "Two Left Feet (Swaggerless Swag)." "I'm talking about how much swag I don't have," Hamilton said. " 'Swag' is the new word for cool. I'm know I'm not cool. I just do music to the best of my ability. I don't think anybody who's focused on their craft should be worried about how much swag is on the corner for somebody to get."
» "Happy Ending." "[This song] is me being happy to not be human," Charles explained. "Are you ever going to see anything as astonishing as a video game character sitting right in front of you, with the same features you've come to know, love and wonder about? How wonderful would that be? If he has the ability to be a human being, why wouldn't you give him some civil rights to live?"
» "Lemme Know." "That song is my race between me and my imaginary girlfriend who is being personified as a Maserati," he said. " 'Cause I'm Sonic, I can race a Maserati."
Don't Sleep: Other Notable Selections This Week
» DJ Drama and
» DJ Woogie and
» DJ Benzi and Kanye West - Sky High (We Got the Remix Special Edition)
» Lil Wayne - Eat You Alive
» Uncle Murda - Back on My Bullsh--
'Hood's Heavy Rotation: Bubbling Below The Radar
» Joe Budden (featuring the Game) - "The Future"
» DJ Drama (featuring
» Kanye West - "Say You Will"
The Streets Is Talking: News & Notes From The Underground
Kanye West's G.O.O.D. Music stable is growing by the minute. A few weeks back, we told you about 'Ye signing Kid Cudi. Now we get word that the Chi-town homie found a diamond in the rough all the way out in the U.K. — the blond-haired, blue-eyed soulful singer Mr. Hudson.
"Ah, he's an incredible artist," Kanye told MTV during the MTV Europe Music Awards in Liverpool. "I believe Mr. Hudson has the potential to be bigger than me, to be one of the most important artists of his generation. ... He's playing these songs, he's playing them back-to-back-to-back — 'Dude, I'm telling you, your problems are not going to be getting hit records, blowing up and being a big star — your problems are going to be living real life, and dealing with real life, so just prep yourself.' Everything I hear [from him] is a smash."
Earlier this year, Hudson spent over six weeks in L.A. and Hawaii, working on his second album Now I See. The first release, "There Will Be Tears" (Hudson wrote and produced it himself), is already out overseas and will be dropping domestically soon. Kanye wrote a track on the album called "Supernova" and has about three more songs he wants to do tracks for. The project is set to wrap production at the end of this month. The Brit appears on West's "Paranoid," from 808s & Heartbreak, and the word from his camp is that Kanye threw him on several of Jay-Z's records for the upcoming Blueprint 3.
Hudson joined Kanye, Consequence (Con, what up?) and the rest of the G.O.O.D. Music family on a recent international run of the Glow in the Dark Tour. Kanye says he's been able to incorporate his fresh material into the concert, changing it up from the trek he made earlier this year.
"Well, it's just a completely different show," Kanye said of the international Glow tour. "It's like if you had a new album — it's a completely redesigned show. It's very theatrical. It has a lot of sensibilities — just things that I loved when I was a child that I applied. I'm infatuated with sunsets, so it's pink skies and clouds, and it mixes it with a vibe of space travel and it tells a story line and all the music has been reorchestrated to sound like it was one piece. A lot of times you get songs from different albums and it's just, like, 'That doesn't have anything to do with this, and this didn't have anything to do with that.' " ...
It's always a special occasion when the Clipse drop a mixtape — you know you're going to get a ton of quotables. This time around, though, it really is just the
"He's on one or two [tracks]," Pusha said of Ab-Liva's contribution — Sandman bolted a few months back. "There is still a Re-Up Gang and a Re-Up Records," he explained.
Clipse are dropping the Road to Till the Casket Drops mixtape in a couple of weeks as a prelude to their album Till the Casket Drops. "The mixtape itself is serious business, lyric-driven," Pusha described. "The energy is there. The energy alone, it's gonna show you the space that the Clipse are in. I feel good right now."
The guys released the mixtape's intro last week, and the full thing should be out right after the Thanksgiving holiday.
"We did the 'Art of Story Telling [Part 4],' " Push divulged. "I love that record. [It] was a task because I think that [Andre 3000] bodied it. Yeah. He bodied it so well that it was tough. I think we did well. Game's 'Big Dreams' was another beat we used. That record was wild. I think we did our thing on there. We did R&B, dawg. We did 'So Fly' and 'Addiction.' The whole process was like picking good records that we heard that were amazing to us. Good music is few and far between these days. ... Oh, we did
Push is hoping the official album comes out on March 10 (one day after the 12th anniversary of the death of his favorite MC,
"It's like weathering a storm, coming out of it," Push said, talking about his new record deal. "It's a new start, it's fresh. You're around creative people, people like hip-hop executives who understand music. Good vibes around everything. Everybody wants to see us win and [they're] willing to entertain trying a multitude of things to make it happen."
One move was getting Kanye West to cameo on the LP.
"The album is coming along good," Push said. "We got Kanye West on it, rapping. I'm scheduled to get with him and get some music as well. We sort of brought him into our world a little bit and he got off. He's definitely on his rap/hip-hop mode and bodying you with those lines and the quirky cleverness Kanye hits you with. He's the pop-culture king — when it comes to rapping about today and incorporating popular life into verses, he's the greatest." ...
"Van Wilder"? OK, maybe he could see that. But Eminem? Just 'cause he's white? Really? Morrisville, PA, native Asher Roth says that, as an MC, he shouldn't be compared to the iconic Marshall Mathers.
"My music ... I feel has a warm approach to it," Roth began, when discussing the contrasts between his style and Em's. "It's very uniting. Obviously Em is very influential, but his music has an angry tone to it — and it's passionate, so I can't take anything away from that. My whole tip is very relaxed and warm and weed-influenced. I mellow out and enjoy life and not sweat the small stuff. That's all I can do, man — be who I am. Let people say what they want to say. You have to take the love and disregard the hate.
"You have to differentiate yourself," he added. "You say there are preconceived notions about, 'This is a white rapper, he's Eminem.' Now I have to go ahead and say, 'Let me show you why I'm not.' Everyone has their challenge musically. I have to challenge myself and challenge my listeners to understand that this is an entirely different project."
Although the 23-year-old has different subject matter from Em, he will definitely remind you of a young Slim Shady some of the time. Hey, nobody says he's biting the style, but the voice — and the way he can bend abstract metaphors — will draw honest comparisons until Roth completely carves out his own niche and drops his solo debut. SRC, his record company, says to look toward March 17 for that release.
"If you just look at me, man, I'm a white college kid from the 'burbs," Roth continued. "It's visual music. You'll start to see it. That's the thing: As more of my music starts to get released, you get to see the image of who this kid is, through the music. That's my challenge — being able to get people to see and feel and visualize me through my music."
We got a taste of Ash's steez in the hilarious "Roth Boys" Internet video several months ago. Since then, he's been getting co-signs from O.G.s like
"I feel like as time goes on, people are gonna understand who Asher Roth is as an individual," the smart-aleck MC concluded.
For other artists featured in Mixtape Monday, check out Mixtape Mondays Headlines.