Anthony Hamilton’s Secret Hook

The shock waves of Carolina patriotism were still still being felt long after Petey Pablo’s “Raise Up” stubbornly evaporated from rotation in the early aughts. In 2004, Charlotte’s Crime Family penned their own anthem to the Old North State. Of the SEVEN individuals mentioned on this label, omitted is that of Queen City’s R&B King, Anthony Hamilton, whose breakthrough album Comin’ from Where I’m From had been released just months prior. Although nostalgic shouts to institutions like Bike Week and Myrtle Beach decorate this more-than-successful Carolina Rap relic, the Crime Family does a greater deal of block hugging and gangster posturing. Although I often question the authenticity (and more often the logic), of committing such court-admissible braggadocio to record, Charlotte’s Hidden Valley Kings, as revealed on that episode of Gangland (History Channel), practiced comparable caution. To aspiring drug dealers: If wire tapping devices start falling out of your customer’s pockets, be a little more skeptical of the “It’s radios and shit” explanation. However, to aspiring rappers: THIS is how you fit Michael Jordan, Julius Peppers, and Clay Aiken into one verse. Kudos. 

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“Carolina’s My Home” by the Crime Mob.

Brandon D Works at the Mall

Greensboro rapper Brandon D is basically the man. Here he is seen ringing up my purchase of Nixon’s Songs About Him at his independent music kiosk inside Hanes Mall, Winston-Salem. Similar transactions have transpired regularly between Brandon and I, from the trunk to the flea market, for several years now. Brandon Davis is second generation rap family here in the Carolinas. His uncle, “Fly” Eli Davis, was instrumental in bringing the Payroll Records roster to prominence in late-‘80s Greensboro, and presently manages Charlotte R&B phenom Anthony Hamilton. Although Brandon received major-label attention from a tailspinning Elektra, the independent rap game has afforded Brandon complete control of his craft, immortalized most recently in his top-grossing Carolina Legend mixtape and the autobiographical Purple Rain-style dramamentary, Trap Boomin’. My first exposure to Brandon was via 2005’s Carolinacentric classic, “Da Kak Joint,” which uses Billy Joel’s “Moving Out” to great effect. Yes, that Range Rover has a Brandon D graphic wrap, and yes the name of that store is Hood Locker. This is Greensboro. Get used to it.

How to Wreck a Nice Beach

Music historian and Charlotte native Dave Tompkins is a national treasure. His influential writing for magazines as far flung as Grand Royal and The Wire made hip-hop writing an art form unto itself. An admirer of the odd, Tompkins latched onto the synthetic magic of the voice-manipulating vocoder early in his life, and set to the task of penning a book on the subject not long thereafter. A resident of Brooklyn, Tompkins will be returning to the Old North State to read from his new book, How to Wreck a Nice Beach: The Vocoder from World War II to Hip-Hop.

Although the flyer does not reflect this, Dave will also be reading at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh on Saturday, June 19th at 3pm.

Visit HowToWreckANiceBeach.Com for more entertaining details.

Bring It Back, That Ol’ Tre Fo Rap

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Wax Poetics is a fantastic publication, for whom I have been granted the liberty of telling many a Carolina tale over the years. The latest, from Issue 40, sheds some light on the roots of Winston-Salem’s permanently burgeoning rap scene. Due to lack of infrastructure and negligent radio, rappers from Winston never seem to gain true traction, and no one’s willing to back me on the brilliance of PWISD’s “Scared of the Tre Fo” (Keep your heads up, fellas). The magazine is available at Borders, Barnes and Noble, and a grip of independent bookstores, most of which can be located here. You’ve got ‘til the end of month. 

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“Must Get Funky” by Resume


The Carolina Soul website serves as a living encyclopedia of soul music made in North and South Carolina. We strive to share Carolinian songs and stories of the last half century, and we invite the input of musicians and fans. We hope you will contact us if you have information on bands or recordings from the region.