He says he’s just a skinny white kid from the Comox Valley who fell in love with hip hop.
So far, that love affair has resulted in more than 100 performances throughout B.C., numerous charity benefit concerts and a feature story in HipHopCanada.
His band, Broken Logic, presented The Weed EP last spring and he recently released a solo EP titled Man vs. Clown. More releases are scheduled this spring and summer.
So who is this guy? Chris Hamilton, also known as Ill Tone.
Check out the free downloads at www.ReverbNation.com/IllTone420, or hear Ill Tone and Broken Logic in person at the Waverley in Cumberland this Saturday, along with Sweatshop Union.
Broken Logic will also perform Feb. 18 at the Backstage Lounge in Vancouver and April 20 at the Vancouver Art Gallery.
Born and raised in the Comox Valley, Hamilton says music has always been the main focus in his life. “I remember listening to my parents’ old rock tapes from back in the mid-1980s,” he says. “Then, when I was around 12, I heard some hip hop and that was it. I started writing my own songs right away.
“I like the simplicity of hip hop, all you need is a mic, drum kit and some lyrics,” he adds. “Hip hop uses more lyrics than rock songs. That gives an artist the opportunity to really connect with listeners. And I found out that even as a kid from a small town, I had a lot to say.”
Hamilton moved to the Lower Mainland five years ago and is currently studying music engineering and production at the Pacific Audio Visual Institute in Vancouver.
“People don’t realize it, but there are so many types of hip hop,” the 25-year old explains. “There’s the West Coast style, East Coast, underground, Deep South and on and on. And it’s always evolving and moving to the next level.”
As a rapper, Hamilton concentrates on lyrics that relate to his own life and the beat of the music. “I’m not going to pretend to be something I’m not,” he says. “But one thing hip hop very definitely is, is into community.”
To that end, Broken Logic has performed at many fundraisers for local groups such as the Comox Valley Youth Connections Centre, Comox Valley LINC, the Dawn-to-Dawn Society, the food bank and a Hip Hop for Homeless concert sponsored by Wachiay Friendship Centre. Fundraising gigs in the Lower Mainland include the recent and very successful F*&% Cancer concert.
“I have the privilege of living in one of the best places in the world,” says Hamilton. “I feel obligated to give back to the community when I can.”
Broken Logic, comprised of Colby Rex and DJ Optimus as well as Ill Tone, will release Covers in early March. Following in mid-June will be another EP featuring Ill Tone and RcThaHazard called Songs About Nothing. Hamilton also has plans for a full-length CD in 2012.
“The most amazing thing about all this is that we’ve managed to remain independent and self-managed,” he says. “And I’m really pleased with Man vs Clown. One of the cuts, Time, with MC Dosia and Julie Webster, is getting airtime on community and college radio stations.”
Of course, every rapper has a stage name. Hamilton started out as Scorch but somewhere along the way, Comox Valley rapper Greg Chadwick, otherwise known as Beyond-Human, started calling him “Hamil Tone.” The moniker evolved into Ill Tone and stuck.
When it comes to lyrics, Hamilton says he usually composes them ahead of time. “Sometimes a song will be finished in 15 minutes, other times it’ll take a month. I try to be conscientious what I rap about; I want my lyrics to have a good effect on the world.”
For Hamilton, the biggest challenges and rewards involve performing. “The writing is easy for me,” he says. “The focus of the hip hop industry now is live shows more than recordings, so I’m always trying to improve my performance. But after you write a song, pick a beat, rehearse and go through all the different stages, then performing it is wonderful. I like to rock a high-octane set and for people to have a lot of fun.”
Ill Tone and Broken Logic have opened and played with many well-known bands including Tech N9ne, Maestro Fresh Wes, Sweatshop and Moka Only. But Hamilton loves coming home to perform.
“Our best shows take place in the Comox Valley,” he says. “Thank you all for being such good listeners.”