Carlos Charm and The Monastery (his group with fellow Magic City musician Paco) have quickly become common favorites in the Birmingham music scene. Their underground classic series of The Basement shows, legendary music video shoots, and an endless stream of quality music have introduced them to thousands of Magic City residents who’ve responded with support. Charm, better known as Kieron Hylton to family and friends, brings yet another meaningful record to the city with his latest release, “Sad Raps.”
The bulk of what became “Sad Raps.” started off with a completely different album in mind – one that included a lot of short, one-verse songs. This mindset can be found in the bulk of the songs at the beginning of the album. While Carlos was creating the album last December, his close friend and fellow Tuskegee University alum Brandon Griffin passed away which understandably brought on different levels of grief for the artist. He created 4-5 songs in the months after, and they joined together with the original concept to form the collection of life experiences and somber thoughts that create an important album in “Sad Raps.”
The lead single off the album, “PMW (Played Me Wrong)”, is the perfect example of Carlos Charm using inspiration from a true story to empty his heart out on a song for the world to listen to. The video is filmed by one of the Magic City’s finest cameramen, ALsoHD Films, who Charm knows from way back. “Al’s been a big brother to me long before I started rapping, since like middle school” explains the musician, going on to describe how he wanted the video filmed at an altar with a depressing vibe throughout. Dorothy George, who is like a big sister, connected him to Reverend Randy in town, and the creative pair created visuals out of Carlos Charm’s lyrical hurt.
While he doesn’t feel rushed to create another video and he wants to feel out what the fans like, Charm does say his heart is telling him to film something to accompany “For the Dead Homies”. He is also planning a special concert later this month that will include a performance of the album in its entirety, along with discussions behind the lyrics.
The album features a long list of accomplished producers, including a duo featuring Carlos himself, who partnered with You Gene Write to bring back Cloud Chasers on this album. The name originally came from some songs The Monastery and YouGene created together, but was used for beat credentials this go around. You Gene is the owner of Sankofa Suite, which has consistently provided studio recordings for The Monastery and many more throughout the city. Charm would come to Write with a loop, and You Gene would make the rest magic.
From the group’s first success, it’s been a priority for them to bring it back to the city. As Carlos and Paco see it, there is always a new way to find success, to uplift themselves and their community. When reflecting on Birmingham, Charm states that it “feels like we are catching up to other major cities and that our talent is starting to be recognized. I’m proud to be a part of that, and proud of the brothers I’ve met in this city that are pursuing this same dream.” Charm sees the bigger picture when strategizing the future, stating The Monastery does “have certain goals, like certain bullet points in our plans, but we’re also just trying to attack it from every single angle as far as propelling ourselves and propelling the city as a whole.” “Sad Raps.” is a quick way to get the nation’s attention, so we’d say “job well done.”
Photos: Malik Banks (Cinemaddict)