Ok- it’s a new year, so I’ll tell the truth: until I downloaded Charles Hamilton’s Normalcy, the most I knew about the Cleveland, Ohio-born, Harlem, New York-raised rapper was his 2008 single “Brooklyn Girls”, which was cute, but hardly ground-breaking.
With a list of mixtapes too long to name here, collaborations, and one compilation album (2009’s The Best of the Hamiltonization Process) to his credit, the general consensus is that Hamilton has grown increasingly prolific lyric-wise, and is better than most at crafting beats.
Released December 28, Normalcy is an eclectic mix of entertaining and enjoyable songs. Hamilton’s ability to blend obscure samples (including Miami Sound Machine’s “Bad Boy”, Sister Sledge‘s “I Wonder Why (He’s the Greatest Dancer)” and some danceable Bollywood joints) with his unique sense of humor, love of Sonic the Hedgehog and skillful lyrical word play makes this project one worth checking out.
Sticking with my new resolution to tell the truth- I’ll admit that he had me after the first few seconds of “See & Say”- the track is just that crazy. “She Purrty” is (I suppose) some sort of ode to the female gender. “Damn lady you fine…great dress/when’s the last time you had an AIDS test?” It gets better from there- I promise.
On “August Rush”, Hamilton tries out an Eminem-like flow that doesn’t really suit him, but, as is the case with almost every song on Normalcy- the track is worth not skipping forward. “Baby Says I Want” shows the rapper’s more sensitive side. “20Hamil10” brings the mixtape to a satisfying end with Hamilton rhyming over another Bollywood beat- “They say I try to hard to be different/ well bitch I beg to differ/ tell every hater to head for the zipper/ you hate me then you never were a listener/ It’s that deep-I swear my logic is mad logical/ but cats got it all backwards like I’m comical…”
By all accounts, it hasn’t been an easy road for Hamilton. He has reportedly struggled with drug addiction, experienced homelessness, was recently dropped from his label and apparently was dissed by Soulja Boy (of all people). That last one puts him at the head of the line for good things to happen this year. Normalcy is a good indication that things may be looking up.