#My500Words: Day 4 of 31 "What happened to Charles Hamilton"
The Rise and Fall of Charles Hamilton
“I was on a very self-destructive path… I don’t want to be left behind. I wanna be clear that you can bounce back. Everything I’ve gone through, I’ve put in my music” Charles Hamilton. Let’s rewind back to 2008/2009, to the XXL freshman class that was one of the best. A class that consisted of Wale, B.oB., J.Cole, Kid Cudi, and Asher Roth. The same year that I started college, which is a critical year for all us. A year we begin to learn about ourselves. Separated from friends and family and thrown into a foreign environment. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’ve always used music to cope with change. One of those artists that I would consistently listen to in my dorm was Charles Hamilton.
Similar to the likes of Kid Cudi, but more of a rapper, Charles Hamilton didn’t rap about hitting the club and making it rain but his music was about life. A rapper with a strange mind, you could hear his internal anger, pain, and emotion in his music. As like most troubled musicians, he used his art to express what he couldn’t express otherwise. One of the few honest rappers in both his lifestyle and lyrics.
As a teenager, he was a homeless youth living in Harlem and utilized the resources at his high school to record music. He would release over 12 mixtapes in 2008 alone and finally making a break through and signing to Interscope in 2009.
Charles Hamilton is not the rapper that you play in your career with the homies, or at a party, or even necessarily with other people. He’s the kind of artist that will completely expose who he is through his music. A self-titled “loser” and “weirdo” he stayed true to himself, even with his brief 15 minutes of fame.
His downfall was very abrupt and unexpected, as his internal struggles with his own happiness were hidden from the public eye. Due to disagreements with Interscope he was dropped from the label, beginning his downward spiral. His career can be described as a rollercoaster. Comprised with highs and lows and filled with his battles with depression and diagnosed with bipolar disorder. At his lowest, his mother found him living and sleeping in an abandoned building.
Charles Hamilton was on track to becoming one of the best rappers of the millennium and was one of my favorite rappers at the time. Someone I could relate to. Somewhat nerdy with affection for SEGA and Sonic the Hedgehog, Charles Hamilton was a rapper for the geeks. If it wasn’t for Charles Hamilton, there would be no Childish Gambino, Tyler the Creator, or Chance the Rapper today.
Without knowing and after I had the idea to write about Charles, I found out today that Red Bull TV is releasing a documentary on the rise and fall of his career TOMORROW (12/2). Once a prominent figure in the hip hop community, he was a victim of mental health, a bipolar disorder, and the famous punch to the face.
A lesson that I have taken away from his rise and fall is that when in need, don’t be stubborn and seek help. It could not only save your life, but also your career, relationships, and well being.
If anything, Charles Hamilton has heard his respect in the industry for staying true to himself, never giving up, and perseverance in his passion. As he was rebounded with the help of his family and new management, Charles Hamilton story is how he has overcame the many challenges of his career.
In his words, he has reached a new passion in “advocating for artists, young people and other men of color that may be unsure of beginning the process toward wellness”. He goes on to finish “I want to make an impact in this world, whether that’s through my music or my life’s story”.
To Charles Hamilton, I hope you find the peace that you deserve.
Watch the trailer for his upcoming documentary:
I've also included a few of my favorite tracks: