Note: This is not necessarily a list of his best work, but rather a collection of what I consider to be albums/mixtapes for anyone who wants to familiarize themselves with who Charles Hamilton is as a musician.
With over 250+ albums and mixtapes (last time I checked), Charles Hamilton has been making good music for over a decade now and the funny thing is, he’s still at it! I heard there’s an album that’s supposed to be released this summer (fingers crossed) so I figured now was a nice time to revisit the days when Mr. Hamilton was putting out projects faster than Sonic could complete the Green Hill Zone. Fortunately, I was alive during the Hamiltonization Process and I’ve watched him grow over the years, but if you somehow missed him or you’re still in your teens, it’d behoove you to get familiar with one of the greatest music artists who ever lived before you get left behind like Tails.
The Pink Lavalamp
Considered by a number of fans (including myself) as his magnum opus. I remember I once said it was the best rap album since Illmatic. Seriously, if you haven’t listened to this, stop reading my blog post and do so right now ’cause it’s THAT GOOD! According to Mr. Hamilton, this album was recorded during the worst period of his life, he was “homeless, doped up, heartbroken, in love, poor, dirty, stinkin, angry, suicidal, happy, silly…but alive”. The Pink Lavalamp is him at his most focused, it’s his most concise, well-rounded and complete album to date. It mixes unapologetic nerd anthems (Loser) with poignant tributes to loved ones (I’ll Be Around) while finding perfect balance in between. The Pink Lavalamp is a showcase of the many tools at Mr. Hamilton’s disposal: pellucid writing, wonderful metaphors, rough experience, raw emotion and euphonious instrumentals.
Sonic the Hamilton
In hindsight, this was a pretty depressing project. Charles Hamilton has never shied away from being genuine, even if that means being ostracized and ridiculed for it. One of his many strengths as a music artist is his ability to be many things at once, and not all of them are pretty. Philosophical and heedless, compassionate and indifferent, emotional and cold. In Sonic the Hamilton he can be cocky on one track and vulnerable on the next. It makes for an interesting listen, and this whole album is the definition of “head phone music”. CH has always been an intricate writer and skilled producer and this amalgamates well to make something that’s as delicate as it is prickly like Sonic the Hedgehog’s quills (tee hee).
My Brain is Alive
“Hate it or hate it a lot, I’ll make my way to the top” Charles Hamilton asserts on a song called Freshman Orientation. He shows why he’s a consistent musician with this offering. Embarrassingly, I didn’t pay much attention to this when it was first released and it’s only recent I have appreciated its charm in its entirety. Charles Hamilton finds new ways to bring his talent to the listener’s ears. The listener can expect to be hit with hard-hitting beats on tracks like Freshman Orientation, experience positive vibes on a feel good song and a half with Every Now and Then and sing along to a catchy hook on Get on the Bandwagon. He really does find innovative ways to engage his fans without losing himself in the process.
At Most I’m Just…
It may not be as ambitious as the previous three, but in my correct opinion, this project has some of his best lines and beats. Charles Hamilton is a big fan of the band Incubus and here you’ll only find Incubus samples (with two exceptions). Everything is grim, intense and brooding on At Most I’m Just… like when questions “Nothing wrong with writing about people/But since people live, am I writing about evil?” on Friendly Reminder/Mop-N-Glo. And since I said some of his best lines are on this project, I’ll give you an example from the first track, The Incubator. “I’m a raging inferno of pink, with the face of a skull/Razor blades for my teeth. Got a tongue made of water/A voice made of pure vibration/I guess my songs are like word libations”.
This Perfect Life
I just want to say CH’s 2nd verse on Cable in the Classroom is the most perfect rap verse I’ve ever heard. This was originally supposed to be his debut album, but due to a lot of crap (some being his own mistakes and others out of his control), it didn’t happen. Anyway, This Perfect Life has a brilliant collection of songs and just like The Pink Lavalamp, strong features from the few music artists who do appear. Charles Hamilton deals with personal issues on this album as well, although not with the same devotion overall. I said “overall” because for certain tracks it can be argued he conveys stronger emotion. He briefly mentions his child molestation, is the “three pound bullet in the sky”, doesn’t let things that aren’t around bother him, cuts “niggas” (I don’t use this word so that’s why I have it in quotation marks lol) off, is all alone, expresses his love for music, and closes the album letting us know pink is the color of life. It’s been over eight years since this album was leaked and the only person who fully understands Charles Hamilton to this day is Charles Hamilton.