Charles Hamilton Addresses J Dilla Love & Detroit Controversy

“I also wanna thank James Yancey for his guidance in putting this album together. Sound wise, I couldn’t be happier. Again, the album was mastered reel-to-reel/digital-to-digital, and I couldn’t have done the entire process without him being a total jerk about me getting that EXTRA vinyl-ish sound. Thanks Dilla.”     When the artwork for […]

“I also wanna thank James Yancey for his guidance in putting this album together. Sound wise, I couldn’t be happier. Again, the album was mastered reel-to-reel/digital-to-digital, and I couldn’t have done the entire process without him being a total jerk about me getting that EXTRA vinyl-ish sound. Thanks Dilla.”



When the artwork for Charles Hamilton’s debut album This Perfect Life was released everything seemed normal, until the credit for executive producer came into view.


Charles Hamilton listed the EP as James Yancey, more widely known as Detroit producer J Dilla. The addition of the late, beloved beat extraordinaire surprised and sparked controversy not only within the Hip-Hop community but also additionally within Dilla’s Detroit family.


Now, with heightening confusion regarding the matter, a handful of Dilla’s closest associates through Hip-Hop are speaking out against Hamilton’s use of the name and its connection to his music. With controversy looming over the head of Charles Hamilton, sat down with “sonic” emcee to understand his side of the debacle. 


Charles Hamilton: Well, let me start it off like this. First of all, I have absolutely nothing but the utmost respect for Detroit Hip-Hop. And I’ll make no apologies because quite honestly my relationship with the Yanceys and the Holten family and their relationship with the Moore family and the Hamilton family really is nobody’s business number one. Number two, I’m the first mainstream artist to make any kind of effort to put any kind of money into the Yancey family pocket because I’m putting him as my executive producer that means when the album does go into stores – mind you this is the first album in Interscope and music business history to be distributed by a major label for absolutely free – and the fact remains that when it gets into stores there is money that will be going into his families pocket.


Charles Hamilton: He has a daughter, his mom is struggling right now, and his catalogue for a lack of better words has been raped by a whole lot of emcees that respect him but don’t necessarily put money into the pot. So what can I do as a mainstream artist that has a lot of respect for the family and the artist and for the legacy he left behind, put him as the executive producer. Now as far as what he did on some “Paul normal” s**t in the mastering process, yes, I can say that I got a chance to speak to Dilla. Now people can say that they’ve talked to Biggie and talked to ‘Pac so what is so criminal about me saying that I had advice on mastering my album from Dilla?


Charles Hamilton: Is it because I’m the new guy in the business or is because I’m not from Detroit. Either way, that’s ignorant and shouldn’t exist in Hip-Hop and no one really has heard most of the album to understand where I’m coming from with it. And then on top of that my favorite rapper, Eminem, is from Detroit so if I’m giving a Detroit producer who didn’t get a lot of mainstream love a little bit of time in the spotlight how am I milking his name for publicity? If anything a lot more people are hitting me up on Twitter saying “Yo, I was familiar with Dilla but I wasn’t familiar with his work. Thanks for putting his name out there.” I think the bigger aspect is your credibility as far as deserving to have Dilla’s name connected to the project.


Charles Hamilton: Okay, when Lupe Fiasco did Food & Liquor, Chilly Chill had just been sent to jail, how was he supposed to have executive produced Food & Liquor from jail? You don’t know that Chilly Chill didn’t contribute to that before he was sent away.


Charles Hamilton: Can I not ask you the same question about Dilla [and I]? Can I not ask you that exact same question?  Just because my name wasn’t shouted out on Ruff Draft – like, and? Trackmasters didn’t get shouted out on Ruff Draft and they actually took a beat from Dilla and it was called “Got ‘Till It’s Gone” by Janet Jackson and they worked with him so where is the crime in it. If anything lets be serious here now are we really in a game where regional loyalty is going to shut down a project that is trying to help the rest of the world?


Charles Hamilton: And to be absolutely honest if I put Elvis Presley [as executive producer] there’d be a whole host of white people saying, “No! He didn’t do anything for your album, he’s been dead!” Even if I did a track with 2Pac they’d be like, “Why did you take an acapella from 2Pac? You’re not real Hip-Hop.” People don’t know how to let go and let fears run free. So if we really want to step into the paranormal realm which is not really a realm that I think anyone wants to have any kind of discussion with me in.


Charles Hamilton: Than lets really put things in prospective because I don’t want to have to say the painfully obvious truth, I’m really playing this very modest and humble but at the same time you can’t do that when you’re a new artist, you have to follow the paved road. So, no I’m not doing that, I’m taking things to the next level and if you’re not with that you don’t have to download the album when it comes out, you don’t have to buy it when it comes out. Just leave me alone with all that hate this is a whole new ballgame right now and I’m not trying to pimp Dilla’s name. If anything you should blame Busta Rhymes when he put out Dillagence, but then again are you really going to blame him because he was on Ruff Draft.  [Editor’s note: Busta Rhymes and J Dilla’s relationship extends back to 1996 on Rhymes’ first solo CD, The Coming.] So it’s like come on now, the duality of it is hilarious but such is the duality of life so I’m not upset at anybody. Let me here your perspective on it, put your perspective on the interview.  Well I can see where House Shoes is coming from and why he is upset at the simple fact that you’re using his close friends name in correlation to your music when the connection really isn’t clear. At the same time I agree with you that all of these other opinions by music listeners are not really relevant because we simply do not know your relationship with the Yancey family. I don’t know that because you did not make it clear. I just want to know if there is a true relationship because that can justify your use and your support for their estate by using him as the executive producer.


Charles Hamilton: Now can that just be for the sake of philanthropy and loving someone’s work so much that you want to help their family out? Is that wrong? There’s nothing wrong with that at all but I don’t know if you really have reached out to anyone over there.


Charles Hamilton: I’m just gonna leave it at this. At the end of the day when the album sells, the numbers that I know it’s gonna sell, and I’m not saying it’s gonna go gold or platinum or flop but when it sells there’s gonna be money going to a pot where very little money existed. So at the end of the day I did a good deed for somebody that helped me musically. Now if I did a séance and Dilla’s walking around in my house, you can’t take away that paranormal aspect of it and I’m not gonna say whether I did that or not because then I ‘d be crazy. Well I will tell you that I respect the fact that you want to help out the situation with their estate, I think anyone who is angry at you right now will respect that aspect of this situation.


Charles Hamilton: Who is this guy anyways? What is his relevance? Who?


Charles Hamilton: I don’t even want to say his name, you say his name. House Shoes? He’s a legendary DJ from Detroit, friend of Dilla, and contributor to Dilla’s music.


Charles Hamilton: My issue is this. I understand his perspective, but dude can you just respect where I’m coming from? That’s why I’m so tight about s**t. Like calm the f**k down. This is not the first time I’ve seen his name but I really want to make things clear, this ain’t about pimping your friend brother, I ain’t pimpin’ your friend I’m trying to help on a major scale.