Music Artists Who Made Spiritual Music for My Soul

  • Charles Hamilton
  • 2Pac
  • J Dilla
  • Kid Cudi
  • Lil B the Based God
  • Prince
  • Kanye West

 

I’m keeping this blog post short. I just want to take the time to say thank you to all of the above music artists for making music that will forever resonate with me.

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Life Lessons I Learned from Prince

I really do love and miss Prince with every fibre of my being. It was always my dream to take my mom to see Prince live (VIP package, of course), but now it will be the only dream I will never be able to fulfill. I knew one day I would be able to have the money to take her, but it’s impossible now that Prince is dead. I know it’s been over a year since he died, but it doesn’t take the sting out of living in a Princeless world. I still remember my brother breaking the news to me on the day he died. At first I started choking up, then I got teary-eyed and it got to the point my words were incomprehensible to my brother since I burst into tears and started wailing. The last time a death was able to get such a strong emotional response out of me was when my grandma died.

It’s safe to say Prince was a musical genius and the master of amazing. He was a beautiful person inside and out. He oozed charm and sexiness. I loved him no questions asked, but what really made Prince an icon was that no matter what people thought of him, he never changed who he was to fit in because he knew he was made to stand out. While his lifetime’s worth of music is what propelled him to super-stardom, what I appreciated the most about Prince was his ardor to live life with passion and a purpose. He’s someone who’s an inspiration for certain facets of my life from the way I dress to my progress as a creative force. In many ways, I am grateful for his existence and grateful I was able to live in the same time frame as the greatest musical artist to have ever lived. Here are some lessons his life and music have taught me.

Be yourself

“Despite everything, no one can dictate who you are to other people” ― Prince

Prince made sure he nor his music could never be boxed into one genre or category. He let his music speak for him and wore what he wanted without caring about how it came across. He wore flashy clothing, high heels (seriously, what other man can rock high heels!!?), and eye liner because that’s what he wanted to do. If nothing else, it was hard to ignore him. For a number of men, they wouldn’t dare wear what Prince did for the fear their sexuality would be called into question. The funny thing is Prince got more vagina than those kind of insecure guys ever could. He was progressive during his life and was the definition of daring. He showed me it’s perfectly okay to go against the norm and be unapologetic all throughout.

 

A strong spirit transcends rules

Prince thought we should all strive to be different, to be more than what society says we should be. The things that make you different are what make you awesome and interesting. On paper, Prince’s qualities wouldn’t be what comes to one’s mind when the topic of masculinity is brought up, but when I think of what a manly man is, Prince is one of two (the other being The Rock) who instantly come to my mind. It didn’t really make sense for him to become a sex symbol, but he did become one. Warner Bros. Records didn’t want “Kiss” to be released as a single, but it became his third number-one US hit and won a Grammy award. His music crossed lines and blurred them, he was the epitome of someone who let his art speak for him. He taught me in my life and creative endeavors, the more genuine and honest I am, the more people can and will relate.

 

If you want something, you better pursue it wholeheartedly

Prince didn’t become a multi-instrumentalist or release thirty-nine albums overnight. He knew what he wanted to do and went after it. I realize if I’m serious about my craft, I better get to work every day.

 

Don’t let the naysayers and haters get you down

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“There’s nothing a critic can tell me that I can learn from. If they were musicians, maybe. But I hate reading about what some guy sitting at a desk thinks about me. You know, ‘He’s back, and he’s black,’ or ‘He’s back, and he’s bad.’ Whew! Now, on [1990 film/soundtrack album] Graffiti Bridge, they’re saying I’m back and more traditional. Well, ‘Thieves in the Temple’ and ‘Tick, Tick, Bang’ don’t sound like nothing I’ve ever done before.” ― Prince

He’s absolutely right. His words remind me of another quote I love by Denzel Washington, “Those who can, do. Those who can’t talk about those who can”. Those guys sitting at their desks have it easy, there are people that sit on the sidelines waiting to jeer at you when you fail because they’re too scared to pursue their own dreams. I always tell these kind of people that just because you suck don’t fault the next person for trying. Anyone who’s tried anything knows how hard it is to try. It takes courage to perform, try new things, and putting yourself out there in the spotlight for everyone to see which Prince did. Prince ignored the naysayers because those weren’t the kind of people who wanted to see him improve or grow. I ignore and expunge the people who question my abilities, goals and dreams all because they’re paralyzed by fear and can’t pull themselves up. I have nothing to gain from them, so I don’t waste my time or thoughts on them.

 

Purple is a beautiful color

Currently if you were to Google “purple is a” one of the autosuggestions read “a gay color”. There are even questions on various Q&A websites where users ask something like “Does wearing purple make a man look gay?” By the way, the answer is “yes” if you’re a stupid person. Prince made me want to add the color to my wardrobe and when I think about the fact purple is one of the colors of the asexual pride flag and the hair color of my waifu it gives it more sentimental meaning for me.

 

Life is a party and parties weren’t meant to last

As I am writing this post and embracing this moment in my life, I couldn’t agree more with his lyrics. Prince understood very well that life is ephemeral and it was important to treat it as a party. No, not one of those parties where you get wasted and don’t remember what happened when you wake up the next morning. What are parties usually for? To celebrate something. I’ve learned to take life one day at a time, just being able to wake up in the morning is a victory. I make sure to celebrate the everyday, enjoy the simple things, be thankful I have family and friends, live in the moments, and take in the present because tomorrow is never promised.

 

And those are some important lessons I learned from Prince. The man who inspired an entire generation, the man who inspired me. He will live on through his music and the positive impact he’s had on his fans. The world lost a musician, composer, innovator, talent and icon. RIP Prince, and thank you.

Sonic the Hamilton: 5 Essential Charles Hamilton Projects for a New StarCHaser

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.

If I Ever Get Married I Know What Song I Want Played at My Wedding

I want this song playing when I walk down the aisle to my wife. This song plays in Crash Bandicoot when you collect all the gems. Crash has to walk on platforms and jump on the gems to get to his girlfriend (too bad they’re not together anymore lol). It’s pretty fitting music for my wedding since I’ll be doing something similar, but I won’t be jumping on any gems.