Gin, Juice and VideogamesSonic the Hamilton
Getting to know Hamilton in this way, it's impossible to miss his love for Sega and his Super Sonic philosophy. Hamilton is not in any way being ironic about the passion for both the brand and its famous mascot. Like the Wu-Tang Clan before him, he has taken a piece of geek culture and built an artistic philosophy upon it. In a YouTube discussion about his Super Sonic philosophy, Hamilton says that Sonic the Hedgehog is emblematic of his desire to literally bury himself, like a hedgehog, into sound, referencing Sonic. He finds meaning in the rings Sonic collects, which for him signify the cycle of life. He goes on to describe Zones, which for Hamilton are states of mind necessary to guide a person through the game (life). Of course, there's a place for robots as well. As in the game, robots are the obstacles and challenges a person faces. Or, as Hamilton sums it up at the end, "I'm Sonic, so I can either stand there and let you (robots) attack me; I can run from you, hit the spikes and lose all that I have; I can fall into a pit and die, or I can just go to the end of the Zone and free the mind."
At times, Hamilton's obsession with Sonic threatens to overwhelm the diversity of the rest of his catalog. As much as he focuses on one iconic videogame character, his concerns as an artist are much wider than simple brand worship. His first album, The Pink Lava Lamp, relies heavily on soul music samples and addresses a dark period in his life dealing with depression and drug addiction. The song "Shinin'," with lyrics culled from a suicide note he wrote, exemplifies the thematic content of this album. In these more mainstream-friendly tracks he sometimes incorporates references to technology or science fiction, as in the song "She's So High": "Left from the rave / Hopped in a spaceship / Off to the hard drive west of the matrix." But just as often, he'll sound like the proud inheritor to the tradition of understated introspective rap that can be traced to his fellow New Yorkers, The Native Tongues.
Fortunately for Hamilton, the internet's flexibility when it comes to distributing free music has allowed him to keep one foot in the experimental and the other in the mainstream. While he has been working on his major label debut, This Perfect Life, Hamilton has released no fewer than 17 mixtapes, many of which are the lengths of full albums and contain wholly original production. The best of these mixtapes blend together concept and form into something that might not be radio ready, but instead serves as a meditation on a particular topic. The song "Windows Media Player" is one of the better examples of this. Featuring a beat made solely from the sounds associated with the Windows OS, the song is, at its heart, a rapper's boast. It's loaded with puns like "When I yawn, ya'll get more / Not feeling how I Explore? Alt+F4" and "No one can tell me what I can and cannot do / Tell me be quiet and I'll holler like Yahoo / Pause / Just in case you got bloggers / who wanna sit behind the keys and start problems." Naturally, the refrains in the song are chants of Hamilton's blog addresses.