Charles Hamilton Was Supposed To Be With Slaughterhouse(Vibe Interview)
VIBE: What would you have done differently this past year?
Charles Hamilton: I would’ve responded to negativity wittier. Right after a diss track, I [would’ve said] ‘Hey dude, let’s go play dodgeball on 116th.’ I’m really past the aggression now.
Did you feel embarrassed by how much negative coverage you received?
I felt like I could OD, as long as I didn’t lie. But I OD’d more than I should have. That was the lack of maturity.
Were your friends and family worried about you?
People were concerned for my safety. My inside circle knows how much I internalize everything. I surrounded myself with people who know I’d rather them kill me then go out and be somebody’s sacrificial puppet. Family and friends may not understand, but I’m a musician. I put my mask on and I’m out.
I see you’re still wearing pink, but is the Panther still around?
The panther left. I was like ‘Damn, now I definitely got nobody to talk to.’ That was my therapist; at least an animated figure could understand me. Now he’s with his Muppet chick.
You were wearing the Panther on your arm in the viral video of you getting punched by your girlfriend. What was your first thought after viewing the footage?
‘Yes! I have fresh content to post on my blog! Everyone that reads my blog knows what I was doing up until that video. I was damn near hinting at it.
What do you mean?
I can tell when things are getting ready to happen and I know what I need to do, even if it is a form of self-advertisement.
You knew that whole punch situation was going to happen?
I know how to trigger certain reactions. I knew what I was going through that made me have to say that. I should’ve been a lot more respectful of the young lady’s privacy, but at the same time, I was aware of what I was saying before I said it.
Most people tend to mention your name with Yung Berg, as in you both experienced hip-hop biggest FAILs. Do you think that comparison’s justified?
Lyrically, can [Yung Berg] spit? There’s nothing too star-spangled banner about dude’s flow. I don’t care about his personal fails, I don’t even know if they’re [real] failures. Bad stuff happens to people… sometimes people deserve what happens and sometimes it’s circumstances.
But is knowing that you’ll probably be brought up in a Yung Berg laugh, disheartening?
You can’t compare [me to] Milli Vanilli or Vanilla Ice, so it’s not a big deal.
With all the **** that was happening, were any industry folks reaching out to show support?
B.o.B, Lupe, J. Cole reached out. I was very excited that J.Cole reached out.
What did Cole say?
He was just like ‘Yo, you already know; I know who you are,’ gave me a big pound. He was real. We had a brief, but potent conversation. He told me ‘Continue doing what you’re doing.’
There was a video of Slaughterhouse singing your praises, too…
Joell, Royce, Crooked, Joe, yall did me dirty! I was supposed to be the fifth member of Slaughterhouse and they know it. Me, Royce and three other people drove out to Jersey, kicking the breeze. I was like ‘let’s start a group.’ He was like, ‘Charles, you’re on a major label.’ He calls up Joe and I already had Crooked’s number, so we do the illest conference call. Joe Budden says to me very sternly, “Charles, we are not your age. We cannot afford a failure. And we don’t want to be a failure and bring you down from your situation.“ I said, ‘y’all are representing hip-hop. Only way y’all fail, is if y’all don’t spit.’ Royce was with it, but I know the love is still there. If they’re still on board, I’m with it.
So many of the peers you came up with—Wale, Asher Roth, B.o.B, Kid Cudi, Drake—have garnered strong mainstream success. How does it feel to see that happen?
Everyone’s success is their own. Whatever lane they’re in, congratulations.
I remember your mixtape Well Isn’t This Awkward dropped a day before So Far Gone and it received great reviews, but got bumped once Drake’s tape dropped. What are your thoughts on him?
I might be one of the few artists in hip-hop to not take offense to his verse on “Forever.” I know a lot of signed niggas that was like ‘Everybody got a deal/I did it without one? **** this *****!’ [Laughs] Then to make matters worse, right around the corner, I got dropped. That line hurt. I’m not going to hate on no one’s success, but if you’re in the car with your homies and “Best I Ever Had” comes on and you ain’t have no chick next to you, of course you’re going to hate on it. Especially since I know the original sample, and I can play it on the piano. I got love for “Best I Ever Had,” and one day I’ll rap over the “Over” beat.
Why not now?
Because everyone’s rapping on that. That’s why I’m glad I waited [to rap] on “Successful.” You not going to say I’m giving [Drake] next by rapping on this beat two weeks after it came out. I’m not going to be a groupie. [If we do a song together] I’m confident it’s not going to be a complete blowout. No one will blow me out on a track period. I don’t care who I’m doing a song with.
What about Cole? He’s been known to do just that.
Stop that. Don’t get it twisted, I love Cole, he’s nice, but he ain’t about to body me on a track. But whoever I’m making music with—Cole or Drake—it’s going to be fire.
Have you learned anything from watching Drake?
This is not a diss, but it’s almost choreographed when he’s on stage. He knows how to move. When I’m on a stage, I look like a professor. It’s a college lecture, as opposed to a performance.
We all know from Well Isn’t This Awkward that you have more than a bit of love for Rihanna. Have you gotten the chance to meet her yet?
First time I met her, I completely blew it. I walked up to her and asked if she’s real. She was looking crazy good.
What did she say?
She gave me the ‘I’m interested’ face but this was before the big incident [with Chris Brown]. How do you tell someone, ‘I’m your knight and shining armor, but I’m two feet shorter than you?’
Did you ever get word that she heard it?
Nah, I took guesses when I saw [the “Hard” video]. I was like ‘Oh ****. Maybe!’ I thought “Hard” was her way of saying, ‘Yeah, ***** made a mixtape about me.’
What line in that song made you think that?
All I know is that would be my theme song if a chick made an album about me.
Is there any other chick that could inspire a future mixtape?
I can’t even lie, I really want to be good friends with Kat Stacks. I want to understand what goes through the mind of people who put out videos like that. It’s up to me to find the brilliance in what she’s doing. At the same time she’s catching a lot of backlash.
You’ve mentioned no longer wanting to do a heavy supply of mixtapes. Yet that’s what you were once known for. Why the change of heart?
I was very kindergarten about how much music I put out, very show and tell. I’m incredibly long-winded, but if I would’ve done anything different, I would’ve paced [myself and] had a release schedule.
Moving from mixtape to album, your first single, “Gaucho!” produced by Jim Jonsin, sounds so far from what we’re used to from you.
I just wanted people to hear me with a different sound because you’re going to hear me with the classic Charles Hamilton sound very soon. [During my] break, I was listening to a lot of mainstream music, where for three, four years there was no radio or television [around me] whatsoever. So I got the chance to listen to what y’all say is poppin’.
Do you think the hip-hop community is stuck on ignorance?
I know that the hip-hop and urban community embrace simplicity. When something presents a little bit of complexity, it doesn’t look cool. I’m always hoping the next generation would want brain-cell-expanding music.
How does that affect your music? “Gaucho!” is very pop. Should you have to sacrifice what’s real for the sake of popularity?
Well the multi-Hamilitonization process is—when I was in the spotlight with a deal, I made sure I looked as D-list celebrity as I possibly could. People knew it was a seven-digit deal and were asking ‘Is it because he has talent? He looks like crap.’ I did it because I always wanted people to focus on the music. This time, I’m making sure my appearance is cleaner… I’m trying to understand what makes a better artist [and] I’m not going to stop till Mount Rushmore is me, Prince, Madonna and Michael Jackson.
A lot of the blog comments about “Gaucho!” say you’re jacking Wayne’s flow. What’s your take on that?
I win. I’ve established in the last years that I can definitely switch my flow up. I can rhyme exactly like the rapper that you don’t like because you hear him all the time. Now are you going to like me cause I did it, or are you going to respect me because you know I did that to get under your skin and it sounds hot coming from me? Who don’t bite flows? I didn’t call anybody out that I’ve seen bite mine.
Looking back, are you proud of “Brooklyn Girls”?
That song actually depresses me a lot, which is the absolute irony of the song. My saddest point became my biggest hit. Whatever the reaction is to the pop music I’m going to put out, please be aware that I’ve been thinking of reactions.
So are you trying Pink’s route? Using pop to reel people in to who you really are as an artist?
There you go.
Do you think if you didn’t have all these ****-ups, you would be at the same level as your peers from that XXL freshmen cover?
Probably not, because I’d be way more isolated. If “Brooklyn Girls” became the World Cup theme, I’d probably hide my face. I’d rather make more music, hit the stage, make the crowd go crazy, say what’s up to a few fans and then go back to public obscurity. What is considered success isn’t success to me.
Is that obscurity something you’d ever change?
There’s purity in obscurity. I can’t fight the reservation factor. I’ll give you great music, but please give me a little distance so when it’s time to accept Grammys, I’ll be ready.
Do you have any features on this coming album?
I think we’re going to put “Paper Boy” [with B.o.B] on the album. Some of the biggest artists I reached out to, minus Eminem, I feel brushed to the side, like ‘Yo *****, sell some records first.’ I overanlyze and internalyze why people wouldn’t want to work with me.
Are you confident that with this plan you can bounce back from everything?
Yeah, I’m a musician and musicians bounce back. If Charles Hamilton put out [“Ke$ha’s] “Tic Tok” I would be nervous.