Review Summary: Charles Hamilton the producer > Charles Hamilton the rapper
After a seeming conspiracy by the music industry against him, Charles Hamilton released a new mixtape. In an attempt to salvage his career by expanding his fanbase and impressing record label execs, Charles Hamilton calls in a full assault with Normalcy. Employing sample-heavy, abstract beats and (pseudo-)intelligent lyrics in order to appear as a deep-thinking rapper. But, disappointingly enough, it only slightly works. Normalcy is the intellectual rap faux-hawk, it’s not the real, pure thing, but it’s a whole lot better than other efforts.
As always, Charles relies heavily on sampling, and he aces it everytime with weird, but fun, samples (Ozark Mountain Daredevil’s “Jackie Blue”, Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive”, that Halloween song “Monster Mash”) that thrive as the spine of his beats, using only the simplest means to enhance them, such as throwing in some kicks, some sci-fi/pop synths, big bass, and/or an impressive drum show undertone. So with lyrics to match, Charles takes the route of intellectual lyricism (with detours of arrogance.) But he often overcomplicates things resulting in lengthy, sub-par punchlines (“…sucks, like your car getting keyed,”) which makes no sense because when he keeps things simple he gets a pretty good line in (“John Elway couldn’t overthrow a n**ga.”) Throw in this with his Sonic the Hedgehog references and it muddles the listener’s biographical portrait of Charles Hamilton, with the question ‘Is he faking being smart?’ arising.
In addition, his cocky delivery and often-awkward, amateur flow don’t coincide well together, further enforcing the fact that Charles Hamilton the producer is better than Charles Hamilton the rapper. But unlike other prestigious great-producer-okay-rappers such as Dr. Dre or MF Doom, Charles Hamilton doesn’t achieve greatness, falling short of it. Normalcy is worth a few spins, and should regenerate a solid record deal for Hamilton, but doesn’t provoke mentions of greatness.