In a 15-minute SXSW set at the Back Alley Social, Harlem rapper Charles Hamilton was as upbeat as a motivational speaker: expressing equal enthusiasm whether the crowd was cheering or quiet, joking with the guy who flipped him off, rocking a bright yellow Sonic the Hedgehog T-shirt and being so amped about having a new girlfriend that he just had to give her a phone call in the middle of his set. "Whatever 'adolescent' whatever you want to put on what we have," Hamilton says about the first girl he's dated since becoming a rising star, "it still feels real because I'm literally going through some high school, the-movie-Twilight type shit in front of a spotlight. You want to know how real this shit is? I'm about to dead-ass call my girl on stage with y'all."
With his music and performances, Hamilton wants to give an unflinchingly honest, undiluted impression of himself he refers to his track "Shinin'," which he also performed, as "my suicide letter." When not on stage, he creates a direct pipeline to his emotions by creating music constantly, releasing (at his estimate) 13 mixtapes in the last year. "My mission is healing through music," says Hamilton. "All I want to do at this point forward is smile and be a big-ass dollar menu for people. Order, motherfucker. Be hungry, get full. Cheer up. I wanna damn near be Henry Rollins in making motherfuckers feel better."
Hamilton got the Austin crowd feeling their absolute best when he closed with his hit single "Brooklyn Girls." As the laid-back, summer-anthem-to-be makes its way across the world, Hamilton has found that people everywhere react by telling him about their own hometown hotties. "I've gotten Yugoslavian girls. Tonight some girl was saying Dallas girls," he tells Rolling Stone. "I'm sure I'm gonna get a Venus girls at some point."
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