Rapper talks his way out of addiction

Chris Hamilton, aka Ill Tone, raps of brokenness and hopelessness. They are concepts the artist once knew intimately.

Hip hop artists Chris Hamilton

By Barb Brouwer/Black Press

Chris Hamilton, aka Ill Tone, raps of brokenness and hopelessness.

They are concepts the artist once knew intimately.

But while he cannot predict the future, nor does he wish to, Hamilton believes that performing his beloved hip hop has rescued him from a thick fog of alcohol and drug abuse, saving his life in the process.

The 26-year-old is on a high, with the release of his debut CD, Bringin’ the Hope Back, Feb. 27, and the prospect of Ill Tone and The Kids joining the critically acclaimed Masta Ace and Stricklin & Wordsworth on a cross-Canada tour – a tour that stops at the Regent Inn on Mar. 15.

The past year has been very good; the 15 prior to that were not so hot.

Hamilton began his dance with the devil, stealing beer and alcohol from his parents – just for the thrill of doing something he knew was wrong.

“By the time I was 15 and going into Grade 10 I literally drank every day, I was hammered,” he says, noting the alcohol abuse segued into ecstasy, then cocaine and dropping out of school. “I was loaded every night on everything you can think of.”

A year later, Hamilton switched schools and managed to graduate, despite doing ecstasy four or five times a day.

Graduation year was followed by three “brutal” car accidents, two of which were caused by his intoxication.

He escaped from them with cuts and bruises and nobody died.

At the age of 19, in a Vancouver Island courtroom where he was given two-years probation instead of the two-year prison sentence the  Crown had requested, Hamilton knew he had a serious problem.

He went into a treatment centre with the idea that he would give something up. Two months later he left and managed to get by with alcohol only for about eight or nine months.

Hamilton moved to the Lower Mainland when he was 21 and increased his intake of both booze and coke, sinking further into addiction.

Over the next four years he became a regular in the Vancouver nightlife scene, his relationships were failing and, when he couldn’t find a supply of coke, turned to crack.

“When you start to do that it’s a pretty quick downward spiral for sure,” he says, pointing out that as messed up as his life was, he always managed to keep his music moving forward.

“I knew I didn’t have much time left, I  was starting to bomb at shows because I was so bombed,” he says. “I knew everything was gonna go to crazy.”

In January 2012,  Hamilton again entered rehab, this time with a different attitude and a commitment to getting well that he did not have as a teen.

The music provided the creative outlet Hamilton needed to release his pain and re-affirm positive messages – pain and messages like he offers in Bringin’ the Hope Back.


Things can get hopeless/ hopeless.

Thinking of brokeness/brokeness.

Sometimes, Even I don’t know Chris,

You wouldn’t know yourself on a two-month dope binge – broken.

Things that I’ve spoken/spoken.

Closed doors that were open

but when I get to feelin’ hopeless and all that, What?”

No worries, I’m bringin’ the hope back.”

By writing the words and reading them “a million times” in order to memorize them for performances, Hamilton says the messages do stick with him and the music gives him the focus he needs to stay well.

“It’s a better way to live; I don’t ever want to feel like that again,” he says, pointing out he can never be sure he will never relapse but is doing everything he can to prevent that from happening. “I am sober right now and that’s awesome. I’ve been sober for over a year, but I am focused on today.”

He has focused too on renewing relationships with his family and friends.

“I can tell sometimes my mom walks on eggshells and I was not always welcome in my own home,” he says, happily explaining Christmas at home this year was the first one in many years. “It’s been a journey to rebuild the relationships – friends who wouldn’t have anything to do with me are good friends again.”

Hamilton says he doesn’t preach to anyone else about the danger of doing drugs and alcohol. But if someone offers him a beer, he doesn’t just say ‘no thanks,” he explains why he won’t have one and what it’s like when drugs and alcohol take over your soul .

“The drugs are pushin’ my buttons/

Until I’m hurtin’ for somethin,’ then I’m turnin’ up dirty and rotten

Early in mornin’, whole family nearly in mournin’

Over the snortin’, it’s a horrible moral abortion…”

Clean for more than a year, Hamilton looks forward to every day and is hoping his new CD and the tour will take his career to new heights.

“Music is my life,” he says. “And I’d rather be a workaholic than an alcoholic.”

A mixtape Hamilton released at Christmas is currently number five on the Canadian radio hip hop charts and he has opened for such popular hip hop acts as Xzibit, Talib Kweli, and Jeru the Damaja… among others.

“I collaborated with recent Juno nominee Jasmin Parkin of Mother Mother on a song that is on the new album,” he says. “I also collaborated with Kyprios, one of the most acclaimed hip hop artists in the country and another Juno nominee.”



Just Posted

Chasing a Trace wolverine movie showing in Revelstoke Nov. 28

Learn more about the regional project Wolverine Watch

Mike Field Quintet playing in Revelstoke this Friday

The band is known for their bright and energetic music

Going by electric car: Revelstoke adventurer does 100 summits without fossil fuels

Documentary Electric Greg showing in Revelstoke Nov. 30

Revelstoke City Council considering giving themselves a raise

The proposal right now is an increase to $25,000 for councillors and $70,000 for the mayor

VIDEO: Canadian allergists’ group wants Benadryl behind the counter due to side effects

Some doctors say the medication is over-used because of its easy availability

Community uses loophole to paint 16 rainbow crosswalks after B.C. council says no

So far 11 rainbows are painted and five planned, all since council denied the first proposal in September

Workers’ camp at LNG facility in Kitimat takes shape

Extensive worker camp now being assembled

Former B.C. youth pastor guilty on one of five sexual assault allegations

Judge cites reasonable doubt in finding Cloverdale couple not guilty of majority of charges

238 and counting: Vancouver gelato shop sets Guinness World record for most flavours

Vince Misceo has come up with 588 different flavours over the decades

Salmon Arm pilot takes part in Remembrance Day flyovers

Hamilton McClymont and other pilots pay aerial tribute at several North Okanagan-Shuswap ceremonies

Killer who fled to Taiwan day after shooting B.C. man over $80 sentenced 13 years later

The sentence comes 13 years after Shaoxin Zhang, 19, was killed in a Burnaby parking lot

Four hunters found safe after getting stuck near Big White

Two adults and two children became stranded after their truck got stuck in washout

Students, staff glad to be back at Shuswap elementary school

Operations resume at Sicamous’ Parkview Elementary after a seven-week closure due to a musty smell

Most Read