Lenny Hamilton, Jr. - Wayout: Portfolio Vol. 1

Share this article
    Lenny Hamilton, Jr.
    Lenny_Hamilton_Wayout_Portfolio_Vol_1.jpg
    Click on CD cover
    to listen or purchase

    Lenny Hamilton is a perfectionist, and once you've learn about his background it's easy to understand why. He's the son of a coach. His father, Leonard Hamilton, coached the University of Miami Hurricanes in the 1990s. He did a good enough job that he made it to an NBA sideline. He's now coaching at Florida International University . Coaches - especially those who work at the Division 1 or professional level - operate on an "it must be 100 percent right 100 percent of the time" philosophy. They sleep in their offices and believe in practice. Now Hamilton didn't follow his father's footsteps by becoming a coach. Instead, he became a musician, and the fruits of his labor have been made manifest on his debut album Wayout: Portfolio Vol 1.

    Lenny Hamilton is a perfectionist, and once you've learn about his background it's easy to understand why. He's the son of a coach. His father, Leonard Hamilton, coached the University of Miami Hurricanes in the 1990s. He did a good enough job that he made it to an NBA sideline. He's now coaching at Florida International University . Coaches - especially those who work at the Division 1 or professional level - operate on an "it must be 100 percent right 100 percent of the time" philosophy. They sleep in their offices and believe in practice. Now Hamilton didn't follow his father's footsteps by becoming a coach. Instead, he became a musician, and the fruits of his labor have been made manifest on his debut album Wayout: Portfolio Vol 1.

    The younger Hamilton also has that Type A personality. He's as much of a studio rat as his father is a gym rat. However, Lenny says he had to subdue that perfectionist instinct in order to get Wayout done. Hamilton wanted each song on the album to be perfect. He was trying to make the next Songs in the Key of Life, and that was bringing everything to a standstill. Eventually, Hamilton decided not to sacrifice the good in pursuit of the great, and he ended up producing a solid piece of alternative soul music.

    On Wayout, Hamilton creates a record that manages to surprise the listener. You hear a song, and find yourself wondering who influenced this piece. "Nothing 2 See" had that affect on me. This soul/jazz waltz finds Hamilton telling the story of getting a visit from an old lover who broke his heart. He lets her know in no uncertain terms that he is different from the man she left. Hamilton said he recalls listening to Prince, Stevie and Natalie Cole with his aunt. She must have also introduced him to some Dave Brubeck too, because "Nothing 2 See" brings to mind "Take Five" or "Blue Rondo a la Turk." The song swings.

    Hamilton goes in a different direction on songs such as "Run" and "Wayout." Both songs are up-tempo sweat producing tracks, but listeners would be cheating themselves if they danced to the beat while ignoring the lyrics. "Run" tells a very human story of a person who wants to exit his current circumstances so badly that he is willing to leave someone he loves behind. He doesn't want to, and he implores the person to come with him. The title track is a musical declaration of independence in which Hamilton declares that he will go where his vision leads.

    Hamilton 's slow songs are magisterial. Tunes such as "Cameo Life" have an orchestral feel, complete with changes in tempo. 

    Hamilton challenges his listeners on Wayout. Oh, he gives them the ballads, mid-tempo and upbeat songs that music fans are used to hearing. However, Hamilton pushes the limits. He makes the fans of ballads listen to up-tempo dance and fans of straight R&B hear a jazz waltz. He's making people get out of their comfort zone and work on different parts of their game. Guess that's the coach's kid in him. Recommended.

    By Howard Dukes

     
    Featured Album - ASCENDANT - Illuminate: Yellow
    Choice Cut - Fred Reed - "Tug Of War"