I like almost all music. “Almost, you say, Slinger?” Yeah, I cannot stand country whatsoever. When you go to karaoke night at the bars every Wednesday night, the hicks in Nebraska love to sing their Garth Brooks. I’m rather open about rap and hip-hop, as the beats and grooves can prove to be rather cathartic at the end of the day. That, and it can really pump me up before I step onto the field. I have been talking a lot about Charles Hamilton lately, because I like his sound and he has been making news with the release of his new mixtape, “Sonic the Hamilton.” I have had a while to check out his new tracks and I urge you to give this Hedgehog-lovin’ rapper a shot.
As a mixtape, I expect a lot of songs to use sampling. A majority of this mixtape does that and it is rather successful. A well-executed sample can add new dimension to a song and allow people to relive the source material. Many of Hamilton’s samples are, of course, Sonic tunes and when I heard the familiar Genesis tracks, I could not help but not my head with the beat.
The first track opens with the iconic “SEGA” sound and the theme to the SatAM television show. A beat creeps behind the song and Hamilton begins his mixtape with “Sonic the Hamilton.” As a Sonic fan, one can appreciate his acknowledgment of not only the Genesis titles, but the cartoons. The opening track is ambient and catchy; I found myself getting lost in the piano loop and Sonic sound effects a few times. The next track, “Where’s My F*cking Genesis?,” opens with a conundrum that I have found myself running into many times: take the first morning piss or play some video games. I laughed pretty hard at that intro, only to be impressed by some tight Mystic Cave sampling. Hamilton has made a vision of mine a reality by rapping over Mystic Cave, because I have always thought that Mystic Cave would be perfect for a slow groove and flowing lyrics.
“10 Minutes” opens with sampling of “Puttin’ On The Ritz” and I was really excited to hear him rhyme over that song. It was an interesting, and rather different, direction to take sampling, but that’s all I would hear of “Ritz.” My disappointment was kicked aside halfway through the song when the familiar ditties of Casino Night came ringing through the ambient synths and jazzy piano. Casino Night would return, in 2-Player form, with “Put Ya Cash Up.” Again, superb sampling and integration of a Genesis song. the chorus involves Hamilton putting lyrics to the B-section of the tune to mild success. Hamilton’s singing is passable by rap standards, but for most, it could prove to be annoying. Different strokes for different folks, though, as I happen to not mind that much.
“Ringtone Rap” was absolutely hilarious. I have heard all the girls around college play the absolute hell out of Beyonce’s “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It).” When Hamilton chose to sing over this tune, he sounded rather mocking and fitting of something that I would do on campus to skanky co-eds dancing down the street to it. It’s a short 20-second interlude that entertains into a song called “Two Left Feet (Swaggerless Swag).” This song samples “I Can’t Dance” by Genesis to great effect, but there’s just too much going on when Phil Collins is singing and Charles is rapping. “Frustration and Failed Suicide Attempt” uses the Sonic 3 & Knuckles mini-boss music and spins the song in a new, introspective direction by slowing it down considerably
A few tracks of original compositions hit the mixtape next. Sonic sampling returns later in “Supersonicevents,” where the Final Boss of Sonic 2 takes center stage. The looping and remixing of the tune is, again, cool, but it follows a similar trend of slowing sampled songs down. At this point in the mixtape, the tempos are all almost identical and the lack of variety can be a bore. The rest of the album features more original, sample-less works that are differing from his Sonic-centric tunes. After listening to the entire mixtape, I think Charles Hamilton is coming into his own in terms of personality, presence, and sound. His first mixtape, which featured the Marble Zone sampling “November 10th,” reminded me too much of Li’l Wayne. To hear Hamilton comfortably step into his own makes me anxious for his next mixtape.
I thoroughly enjoyed the first half or so of the mixtape, but, as stated earlier, it becomes rather monotonous as tracks go on. The second half connects with me to varying degrees, sometimes to the point where I could not be bothered with the original tracks. Moreover, each song sits in this pocket and stays there to groove the entire time. Adding to the monotony has to be Hamilton’s delivery of his lyrics. A bit more variety and emotion here and there in his rapping tones could help. As mentioned before, there are a few original pieces in the mixtape. While they are good at broadening Hamilton’s repertoire, the use of the Sonic sound effects is confusing and obtrusive to what is a decent, 100% original single. Please, Charles, next time, keep your Sonic sound effects in songs with which you sample Sonic tunes. Also, when it comes to sampling, I recommend staying out of the way of singers whom you sample. The song sounds bogged down with too much going on if you are rapping over them.
All in all, the mixtape is worth a listen. I have pointed out all the tracks with Sonic tunes in them, so if you don’t want to give the whole album a shot (or if you hate rap), at least check those out. As a Sonic fan, Hamilton’s appreciation for the character is envious. Considering that I’ve been watching people spend their time arguing about reviews and the “state of Sonic” over the past week, I believe Hamilton can bring us all together for a musical interlude.
The last track on this mixtape, “Fans Are Cool,” shows Hamilton’s gratitude towards his fans. Thanks for the shout out, man, and keep up the good work. You’re “crazy” self is making some of us here proud.
+ The sampling of classic Sonic tunes
+ Hamilton’s flowing lyrics
+ The amount of Sonic love packed into this mixtape
– The second half of the mixtape
– Monotonous tempos, delivery, and sound effects
– 1 or 2 of the original pieces