In high school, I loved Charles Hamilton. No seriously, I loved him. I downloaded every single mixtape onto my iPod. I spent my allowance buying multiple copies of the 2009 XXL freshman cover that he was featured on. I knew the lyrics to “Air Conditioner” better than I knew the pledge of allegiance. And I would even get in trouble for debating (and yelling) about why Charles Hamilton was in my top 5. It didn’t hurt that he was from Harlem too. For some reason, Charles Hamilton related to this dark/sad side of me. His mixtapes (especially Well, Isn’t This Awkward…) told stories that I felt like only I could understand.
So when he took a step back from music to focus on himself (or fell off as some like to say), I was hurt. Every now and again, I’d play “Brooklyn Girls” and a smile would come across my face as if I were listening to the words of a friend I hadn’t heard from in a while.
Two years ago, a friend and I were coming from breakfast. In the middle of our conversation, a man starts walking towards us. “Yo, is that Charles Hamilton,” my friend asked. Without even looking at the man, I rolled my eyes and sucked my teeth. “Nigga, Charles Hamilton is in Europe working on an album or some shit. He’s not in Harlem,” I said. “Nah, look” he said. I looked up and sure enough it was Charles Hamilton walking down Lenox in an oversized navy blue champion hoodie and some beat up sneakers in the middle of the winter. “Damn,” I said as I stopped in the middle of the sidewalk and watched as he walked past me. There he was. My favorite rapper walking down the block looking totally unrecognizable. Looking…bad.
That being said, when Charles Hamilton announced his comeback and released “New York Raining” (which was featured on Empire), I was excited. Hell, I was proud and fucking elated! Last night, I finally got the chance to see Charles Hamilton perform at SOBs. Accompanied by a live band, two awesome background singers, and his piano, the once pink wearing rapper (who was decked out in all black) took the stage.
The rapper opened with a couple of new songs, which will hopefully be featured on his album, and even freestyled a verse. In between each track, Hamilton would address the crowd and shoutout all his friends and family in the building. He even offered advice to those seeking fame in the music industry. “You can make music without a deal,” he said. But also warned budding rappers, “If you aren’t ready to give up a piece of yourself, don’t get in the game.”
This is what I missed about him. Charles Hamilton, the relatable rapper. He was honest, open and vulnerable with the audience as he explained “why he left the game” through his lyrics.
The 27 year old rapper closed out his packed out show with “Brooklyn Girls” and “New York Raining”. Last night, Charles Hamilton killed SOBs. Last night, I got my favorite rapper back. Last night, Charles Hamilton began his reign as The Comeback Kid and I can’t wait to see where he goes next.