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What really happened to Charles Hamilton

I was reporting on Charles Hamilton getting dropped from Interscope back before it was all trendy.

I figured he’d probably been let go, back when someone posted an update on his blog about how he’d gone through some changes, both personally and professionally, and so he was taking some time off from the Internets. At that point, neither his blog nor his Twitter had been updated for about three weeks.

It actually hadn’t occurred to me that he was gone from the Internets, until that moment. I think I used to follow him on Twitter, but I had to get rid of him, because he was posting too many updates. He was posting tweets as if they were shitty mixtapes on Nah Right. Just one after the other after the other… (No shots.)

Before that, I remember Charles Hamilton and I had a few humorous exchanges. There was the time when he wanted to know if anyone else listened to Modest Mouse, as if no one had ever heard of them. (Black people are always discovering rock groups that have been around for over 10 years. Wait till he hears In Utero.) I had to point out that Modest Mouse lead singer Isaac Brock was once accused of either beating up or raping a woman. I can’t remember which. Maybe both. (A twofer!) This was around the time when that video surfaced of Charles Hamilton getting coldcocked by Mary J. Blige emotionally disturbed stepdaughter, and he was so adamant about how he’s against domestic violence, at least if it’s of the man on woman variety.

Then there was that time when I was gonna do the liner notes to his album. This was after I stopped following him on Twitter, but I took a look at his account anyway, because he was beefing with Dilla stans about listing the dead producer as his album’s executive producer. I don’t think I need to recount the hilarity that was that incident. At least not today. Anyway, I told Charles Hamilton that, for a small fee, I’d be willing to do the liner notes for his album. He could even list my name on the back cover, where Dilla’s had been. He said he was with it, but I’m not sure if he ever presented it to his tall Israeli overlords. As it turns, this was near the end of his relationship with them.

When I heard that Charles Hamilton, whose name is synonymous with Internet fuckery, had up and disappeared from the Internets, and that someone in his camp felt compelled to inform us that he’s okay (without letting us know what exactly happened to him), it seemed obvious to me that he wasn’t, in fact, okay. I speculated that he may have suffered a heroin overdose, or he may have been dropped like a bad habit from Interscope. If he was really okay, why wouldn’t he just tell us himself. His handlers obviously aren’t adept at avoiding a PR clusterfuck, but even they should have realized this status update would only lead to further rumors and speculation.

A mere matter of minutes after I posted about his hiatus from the Internets, I was informed – by someone who’s usually right about these things – that Charles Hamilton had indeed been dropped from Interscope like a bad habit, right around the time of his mysterious disappearance from the Internets. The Dilla clusterfuck had been the final straw. I don’t know if Dilla’s people threatened to sue, or if the suits at Interscope read that shit about Sonic communicating with Dilla via seance and figured they’d better cut their losses. I updated my post to explain as much, and that’s the last I thought about it for a while.

Several weeks later, there was a story in the Village Voice about rappers who overshare information on Twitter and other social networking sites. Charles Hamilton was in it, as was Joe Budden and a few other such fruits. It read to me like the latest in a series of cases where people have taken posts I’ve written for this site, repackaged them and sold them to some other media outlet, but maybe that’s just me being conceited. (Slate is another prime offender.) Charles Hamilton wasn’t interviewed for the story in the Village Voice, but there was some shit about how Interscope may have issued him a gag order in the wake of the Dilla clusterfuck, and I’m assuming the label told them to print that. They probably don’t want people to think they dropped him off on some heroin corner, after gassing him up about being the next Eminem and then woefully mismanaging his career. They may have even paid Charles Hamilton a severance fee to keep his mouth shut.

Think about it. Without casting aspersions on any of my colleagues, lets just say that a number of people in the world of hip-hop journalism could have picked up a red telephone that connects to the Interscope building and had it explained to them what happened to Charles Hamilton. Doesn’t he live in Harlem, which is in New York, which is where most hip-hop journalists live? Certainly, in the past few months, someone could have bumped into him, or someone who might know what happened. I’ve seen the twitpics of Master Splinter, those two Jewish guys from It’s the Real, and various other hip-hop bloggerati getting free shit from labels at album listening parties. I know how incestuous that whole scene is. As a matter of fact, it was at RapPravda where I spotted the link to the post about how nothing bad happened to Charles Hamilton.

RapPravda, which is secretly owned by the manager of Interscope’s biggest artist, must have gotten the go-ahead the other day to report, three or four months after the fact, that Charles Hamilton has been let go from Interscope – just like they revealed that Eminem agreed to be teabagged a good three or four days after one of the writers from MTV let the cat out of the bag, on Twitter. RapPravda, citing its “political connects,” did a post the other day on Charles Hamilton getting dropped from Interscope, and a cursory perusal of the Google reveals that it’s since been picked up by a number of bloggers who obviously lack my Steve Langford-like skill for investigative journalism. Then just yesterday, I saw where the Smoking Section, which is still pissed about the Hamiltization Process (remember that bullshit?), had the Charles Hamilton album available for free download. I wonder if someone from the label slid that to them under the table, for the sake of reconciliation.

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