Do Remember: When Charles Hamilton Passed The Mic To An Unknown Kendrick Lamar (Video)
Miss Lauryn Hill once eloquently rhymed, “Seasons change, mad things re-arrange.”
In life, love, and Hip-Hop, is this not a rugged truism? As the world shifts, there are some interesting cycles. This week in the culture, Kendrick Lamar took center-stage, giving Heads a name for his sophomore major label album, To Pimp A Butterfly, in addition to a scorching hot Notorious B.I.G.-themed freestyle.
As “King Kendrick” is pushing for his next plateau, another peer of his, Charles Hamilton, is clawing out an impressive comeback. The Interscope Records critical acquisition of 2012, and the critical Interscope signing of 2008 share a lot more in common than just another week in culture.
Both 27 year-olds, Kendrick Lamar and Charles Hamilton are both MCs who take comfort in using (parts and wholes) of their government name. Clear social outcasts, both artists have music that sounds vastly different than their peers from Compton, California and Harlem, New York respectively. They don’t talk, dress, act, or rap like so many of their peers. Instead, these insightful minds carve lanes in Rap, influenced by a vast array of others’ music, and their none-too ordinary childhoods.
In art and in life, Kendrick Lamar and Charles Hamilton have taken very different paths in the last seven years. Circa February, 2009, Hamilton stood as one of the top artists of the era. A disciple of the blogs, the Harlemite was working with DJ Skee, DJ Green Lantern, and even cousin, MC Lyte. As for K-Dot, Jay Rock’s right-hand man was cutting his teeth extensively through appearances alongside his Watts counterpart, in addition to mixtape work alongside Game, Tyga, and even Little Brother’s Rapper Big Pooh.
In this era, Charles Hamilton performed/hosted at what appears to be a HOT 97 event in New York. On fan-captured film, Charles welcomes partygoers to kick a lil’ something. After one man touches the mic (“tryna go in!,” according to Hamilton), some folks in Jay Rock shirts (who was then signed to Warner Bros. Records) suggest the mic go to a jacketed “K-Dot, from Compton.” With ease and style, Kendrick delivers his bars—grabbing almost everybody’s attention. Following Lamar’s mic manipulation, Charles comes in can’t let the mic pass him without showing why he was a top sensation at the time. Hamilton does his best, and soon, the mic ends up in other hands.
Six years later, the tables have turned, but both MCs are commanding headlines in March, 2015. Do Remember, where their paths intersected on what seems like yesterday…
Would this moment in time be relegated to myth or interview fodder for both artists in 2015, if not captured on film?
On a related note, Kendrick Lamar enters Round 3 of Ambrosia For Heads’ “Finding The GOAT” series, after defeating elder statesman Royce Da 5’9″ in a close Round 2 showdown (and beating a Childish Gambino landslide the previous round).