It’s been a long journey in many respects for Charles Hamilton who of late has been showing a good few rappers what is meant by the term ‘freestyle’; check him on Sway’s show going in!
Life’s tribulations put a bit of a block on the rapper who adorned the cover of the integrity boosting publication XXL in 2008-truthfully CharleS professes ‘maybe fame came too early’. It was his innate musicality a product of learning the piano and keys at an early age that saw him hailed as a fresh new rapper to bring a new dimension to rap.
A few years of moderate quiet and Charles Hamilton will be reigning the US and the globe (as he should be) with the brilliant debut single New York Reigning featuring our very own Rita Ora. It’s a musical tour de force of a rap come rnb track with Charles Hamilton on the keys while Rita Ora provides an infectious hook and chorus. It’s the perfect taster for Charles’ forth coming album scheduled for release in September.
So let’s go in with the talented producer/rapper/musician!
I hear you are like this hip-hop version of Prince being a multi-instrumentalist.
Prince wow-Well I started playing the drums just to keep the rhythm and stuff I think when I was about 5 years of age I started playing the keys, then in later years I picked up the guitar and the bass. It has been a beautiful thing for me and it’s just that I love music and the creation of music.
So your family must have really supportive for you to make those choices at such a young age.
Of course, my mum got me my first keyboard but what was important is she would insist I practice-at the end of the day you need to practices to perfect your craft. When I got used to playing by ear and my ear for listening to music was strong enough then my mum got me some professional lessons to better myself.
It sounds like you spent a lot of time despite the lessons teaching yourself.
Well when we lived in Cleveland we were fairly well off so I had a drum kit in my basement and a keyboard in my room, so I would bring the keyboard into the basement and jam out by myself. I learned the fundamentals on my own so I figured out issues about song composition and rhythm.
Musically how diverse were your inspirations?
As I got older I started to listen to all types of music from enhancing my ability to formulate my own songs. For a long time, I loved rock into bands like; Yes, 9 Inch Nails, Pearl Jam, Aero Smith so that really was and has been a part of my musical foundation. I was influenced by dad regarding that love I guess because he would listen to everything from Jimi Hendrix to James Brown. In terms of my hip-hop foundation I was initially influenced a lot by people like Kriss Kross and MC Hammer. I did not get into the lyrics of hip-hop until I was like thirteen and once I started to get into the depths of what these great hip-hop artists were saying then it was ‘wow this is what I want to be’.
Every great hip-hop artist is identified by their struggles in life, is that struggle important?
You need the struggle to understand and appreciate whatever you get from that struggle. There are people who work at Fortune Five Hundred Companies who grew up in poverty who appreciate what they have because of where they came from. Personally I wanted to understand the hard upbringing so I shunned the wealth we did have. I shunned the fancy things that we had I wanted to understand the struggle and be accepted by those who were or had been in the struggle.
In terms of another struggle you faced-I hope you do not mind me asking but I know you were diagnosed with BPAD-how did that effect you and how have you overcome it?
I must admit, I personally don’t like talking about it but it has made an impact on the way people receive me. I don’t want to be the special case and people just put up with me because of this diagnosis-I was diagnosed with it and I hope people don’t look at me negatively. Day to day living with it-well I take my time to think I don’t what every thought of mine to be a knee jerk reaction I want to get away from reactionary actions. I want to make sure everything I do is well thought out and that any success that I do get I can hold onto it a bit longer than when it is around.
And in terms of creativity and the diagnosis there is a very fine line.
There is a very fine line. I can make a bunch of songs in a session but it is about getting sufficient rest. Like I will be up for twelve hours making beats and then on the twelfth hour there will be the spark for something great and then I will be up for another twelve hours. Then I will take a break for music because I want to research something and then that’s six hours so before I know it I have been up for twenty four hours straight. When you don’t get a lot of sleep it deteriorates the mind so I am careful but it does not dictate my life.
So music the totally soulful single New York with the brilliant Rita Ora really loving it.
Thanks, Rita definitely takes the track to a whole level because she is just so vocally on point. The track actually started from a jam session with me and the Invisible Men. They had a hook and a drum track and I learned what they were doing during the session and played it throughout the song on the piano, added parts and I ended up writing a love song. I realised that Rita Ora would be great on the track and I asked and they said yes. She laid down her vocals and as I said she just nailed it.
Album wise after a break out of the industry what can we expect?
A lot more musicianship with a lot less samples but that does not mean that the soul of my music will not be there. I am going to be playing the piano, I have got some written verses and I went back to late 2011 early 2014 I was writing in my head and dropping freestyles it was a little talent that I created. Then once I had it mastered I went back to writing and it has turned out really good and I can’t wait for my fans and of course new fans to get onto my album. This is about me coming out and showing people who I am as an artist.
BUY-NEW YORK REIGNING OUT NOW