For the past year, Harlem eccentric Charles Hamilton has held the silver medal for hip-hop's biggest dunce. With bottomless fails ranging from an abrupt Interscope drop to odd Dilla posthumous references and a viral punch tough enough to restart a Macbook, the 22-year-old has experienced a career most would hang up. After a well-deserved hiatus, however, Charles is back—with new music, maturity, and (wisely) a new girlfriend. VIBE caught up with pink-loving hedgehog to see just where his head's at. —Tracy Garraud
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.
"Joell, Royce, Crooked, Joe, y'all did me dirty! I was supposed to be the fifth member of Slaughterhouse and they know 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 shit 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…