Charles Hamilton photographed at The Palazzo East in Los Angeles on Feb. 24, 2015.
Rapper Charles Hamilton has broken his musical silence with “New York Raining,” the release of his first major-label single since 2008’s “Brooklyn Girls.”
The 27-year-old, who signed with Republic Records in February after a lengthy struggle with depression and addiction, enlists Rita Ora for “New York Raining,” the first offering from his forthcoming debut. The Harlem MC will appear alongside Ora to perform the piano-driven cut on the season finale of Fox’s hit series Empire, airing March 18.
“New York Raining” marks the first step in Hamilton’s road to a comeback. In 2008, he made waves on the Internet by releasing dozens of experimental DIY mixtapes, earning him a rumored million-dollar record deal with Interscope. But as he began to rise, he struggled with undiagnosed bipolar disorder. His erratic behavior made him a punching bag for the hip-hop community.
Charles Hamilton On His Struggle with Mental Illness: ‘I wanted to Commit Suicide’ (Exclusive)
After releasing his first official single “Brooklyn Girls,” tensions with Interscope mounted when the label didn’t wish to include the song on his album. “They might have seen me as an uncooperative artist,” Hamilton told Billboard in his first major interview since 2012. The label dropped him, and as he retreated from the spotlight, his mental state worsened. He contemplated suicide, arrested for felony assault of a police officer and was institutionalized numerous times against his will.
It was with a five-hour show at S.O.B.’s in New York City in 2012 that put him on the road to recovery. The performance attracted attention from management company Turn First (Iggy Azalea, Ora), which offered to pay for his medical care and helped build a recovery plan. Now, Hamilton plans to release his major-label debut, produced entirely by the Invisible Men, later this year.