Hip Hop Just Turned 30: The 25 Best Charles Hamilton Songs

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Happy birthday, Mr. Hamilton! Your music has kept me going since 2008. I laughed, I cried, and I heard something that changed my life. I can’t even imagine my mental state or if I’d still be alive if I never listened to you, you’ve gotten me through so much and your music has always been there for me. Honestly, it’s hard to condense a lifetime’s worth of catalog into 25 songs. Charles Hamilton showed there isn’t a limit to what can be said in music. He virtually touched on every subject from drug use, Sonic the Hedgehog, music braggadocio, suicide, injustice, death, ex-girlfriends… if it was worth writing a song about, Charles did. I tried to include familiar tracks whilst adding some of my personal favorites. This is the definitive list of The 25 Best Charles Hamilton Songs. Listed in no particular order because I am bad with numbers. Thank you for everything, Charles Hamilton!

 

Brooklyn Girls

“Only I can get away with something like this!”. Hm, indeed. Perhaps the most recognizable Charles Hamilton track of all time. “Brooklyn Girls” possessed everything you’d expect in a commercial hit: catchy hook, euphonious beat, smooth flow and affable lyrics. Those pink Dre Beats in the video are friggin’ fire!

 

Bruce Almighty (Moon Outta the Sky)

Another Charles Hamilton masterpiece. I respect the hell out of the samples (he sampled one of my favorite childhood movies). Pure intelligent emotion and music like this is the reason CH evokes such inspiration for StarCHasers. I will admit, I teared up when he starts singing. You can tell this man put his heart and soul into this song.

 

Wrist Music

This song holds high sentimental value for me because I got my semicolon tattoo on my wrist whilst listening to this song on repeat. What starts out as a heartfelt and brooding song about depression, self-loathing and self-harm is sprinkled with glimmers of hope with lines such as “the scum of the Earth have a gooey glow” and “I’m the man now, on some Mega shit/Niggas always wanna bite, on some Tera shit/But they walk away broke on some beggar shit/I walk away with hope, on some better shit”.

 

Lacey Duvalle

…………All I’m going to say about this song is God bless anyone who knew who Lacey Duvalle was before Charles Hamilton made a song about her, lol.

 

Writing in the Sky (Bonus)

This album closer was where according to Charles himself, he “found out God was a woman”. But for me, this was the song where I started to think “Maybe… life is alright and… everything will be okay” back in early 2009. The drums and sample are amazing, even my mom loves hearing this song as we sing along whenever we hear it in the car (I’m pretty sure she’s heard the sample).

 

Most Likely to Succeed 

I’m convinced there isn’t anything Charles can’t sample and make it great. The last verse is godly. This song is a perfect example of CH’s unique production skills and lyricism.

 

The Bermuda Triangle

Charles Hamilton freely admitted many times that J Dilla is a huge influence on his work as a producer. All the songs on the tribute project And Then They Played Dilla are great, and this is the highlight and standout moment for me. CH trades bars with SHow TuFli and Yung Nate and the upshot is pure perfection. It definitely seemed like they all had fun whilst recording their verses.

 

New York Raining

I don’t think there is anyone who does love songs better than Charles. This was the first single with his new record label, Republic Records and was featured on the Fox TV show Empire. I’ll always root for my favorite rapper so it felt unreal for something like this to come out when it did. I’m glad he’s in a better place not only with his career, but his life.

 

New Girlfriend Music

This tender love song makes me feel like I’m in love and the funny thing is I’m not in a long-term relationship and have no intention to be when I’m attending university, lol. Charles Hamilton’s flow here is like kinder chocolate and makes sense considering the sweet topic he’s rapping/singing about. I know he’s no Freddie Mercury, but Charles Hamilton’s singing has always been easy on the ears.

 

Cable in the Classroom

If I were to have a son, his middle name would be Charles. And if I had to pick a verse to represent rap as a whole, it would be the second verse on this track. “Cable in the Classroom” is probably, lyrically, the best rapping anyone’s ever done. There’s a lot of layers, references and clever wordplay that can go over your head if you’re just breezing through, but I think with this song CH is someone you’d give your full, undivided attention to.

 

Correct

“A good night’s sleep is all I care about”. That line always stood out to me for some reason. CH puts his heart out and raps about police violence and I absolutely love the hook.

 

Choices (A Wave for Alex)

For all my money, this is the best Charles Hamilton song. The whole backstory to this song makes it even more heartbreaking. This beautiful song serves as a reminder how precious and short life is and how even the simplest of choices can have a big effect on us.

 

Loser

Cocky Charles Hamilton is best Charles Hamilton. He has the music abilities to be exactly that though so it’s all good. A lot of notable and quotable lines in this song like the first few lines and he eventually comes in with one of the most inspirational choruses I can think of. “I once was a loser/Now I’m older still the same loser/That’s why I look so different to ya/You see the past I see the future”.

 

November 10th

A good song, but let’s be honest here, the video is quite silly. And no, it’s not because this video conveys his Sonic obsession (I have a Tails tattoo myself), but because of the faces he makes throughout it. Musically, CH glides over an upbeat instrumental that samples a familiar Sonic stage. This was probably his second biggest hit mostly because it was accompanied by the above video. Seriously, why doesn’t he make more music videos?

 

Enter the Hedgehog

Speaking of Sonic, his whole Sonic the Hamilton project was filled with samples from the series. For anyone who wants at least to understand a part of Charles’ worldview most people would point you to The Pink Lavalamp, but if you were to ask me I’ll point you to Sonic the Hamilton. The first track is this one where he raps and melancholically sings over a Sonic ’06 instrumental. “My only competition is time. In my mind time is a crime I’m being punished for all the time”. Gotdamn, talk about brilliant. I remember taking my first LSD trip while listening to this and I finally understood what it meant to be “in the zone”. I listen to this song on a daily basis.

 

Friendly Reminder/Mop-N-Glo

“But I visited a Genesis via an Exodus”. I’m embarrassed to admit it took me awhile for me to get that line. These type of projects of his are really great because he usually only samples the artist and the artist in question on At Most I’m Just… is his favorite band Incubus. The way he samples is incredible because I initially couldn’t even tell he used an Incubus beat.

 

Rosado

Meditation type of music. An ode to his (and mine) favorite color, pink. I’m not sure if he made this a calming song on purpose since pink is considered to have a calming effect.

 

I’ll Be Around (Outro) 

Because I have a family I love and friends I adore, these type of songs are the ones I love the most. “People never get the flowers while they can still smell ’em”, but that quote doesn’t apply here. He puts everything out there and lets the people in his life know how much he cares about them. Society tells us men aren’t supposed to cry, but CH gets emotional here because those who left a positive impression on him are more important than what society thinks. I only make beats, but if I ever put my vocals on any of my songs, I’d like to make a song like this for my family and friends.

 

Starchasers

Anyone reading this, will now have a better idea how I got my username and alias. When I first heard this song my reaction went from 😕 to :l to 🙂 to 😀

 

Ambitions of Musicians

I remember when people would rap over the “Ambitionz Az A Ridah” beat, but Charles did it best!

 

Every Now And Then

This is SUCH a feel good song and a half. 🙂

 

The One I Need

Charles isn’t just a rapper and song writer, he’s also a music producer. Sometimes, songs don’t need vocals in order to be a dulcet tune. This is easily my favorite beat he’s made so far and made me want to start producing.

 

Simone

Before Drake (who sucks, sorry, Charles ’cause he does) rapped about ex-girlfriends, CH did it first and better. Here, he flips a Kanye West track and proceeds to tell a tale about a woman who he has been mentioned a number of times before in his songs.

 

Re-Anna

There was a time when Charles was madly in love with Rihanna. It’s kind of funny ’cause I can relate to being infatuated with someone more famous than myself (Nicki Minaj). The Well Isn’t This Awkward project was all kinds of ambitious and amazing. Despite the title, he samples Fleetwood Mac’s “Rihannon” and not a Rihanna song. This is the type of love song I’d like to make for my special someone. *Sigh*

 

Nah Dead Ass

Compared to all the other tracks on my list, Charles is pretty tame here. This song feels more like he’s having a conversation with the listener than anything else. It may not bump as hard as the others tracks on this list, but I believe it aged well and is one of those hidden (and underrated) gems in his discography. “I will give you my all, as long as my all is more than enough for you”. Those lines had me crying because that’s what I want to be able to do for everyone in my life right now and forever.

 

 

And that’s my list! Yeah, yeah, I already know. Anyone who’s a fan of Charles Hamilton isn’t going to agree with everything on this list because certain fan favorites will be left out. Like I said at the beginning, it’s quite difficult to make a list of the best songs he’s produced when he has over ?k+ songs in circulation. I actually like how my list turned out though. If you must know, my favorite Charles Hamilton song is the one where he raps. Music is the only love!

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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.