For many teens, following childhood dreams seems to have become a thing of the past, especially in an area as big as the music industry. For Williamsville South High School senior Colby Hampton, though, he hasn’t given up on reaching musical success.
Rochester-born Richard Colby Hampton is a 17-year-old who brings a lot of talent to the table. Unlike the typical dream chaser, however, Colby’s plans are within his grasp. If you haven’t yet seen his musical stylings on the Internet, drop what you’re doing, search for him on YouTube, and prepare to get a taste of what the class of 2013 can accomplish.
“I kind of joked around with it, like, when I was a freshman, as a joke with my friends, but, I mean, now I’m kind of taking it a little bit more seriously,” said Colby.
The Williamsville South senior does not restrict his music to the digital screen. Colby, the older brother to 11-year-old twin boys, has already had the experience of performing live: twice at Club Infinity in Clarence, once in West Seneca and once in Syracuse.
On the topic of performing live shows, he said, “I love it, it’s so much fun. Especially getting the crowd really hyped. And the way, like, as an emcee you really control the crowd. But there are some people who have it and some people who don’t, so I guess that’s just how it works.”
Colby says that when he does perform, he prefers more “pumped-up stuff.” Though he’s only performed through rapping and singing, his interests are certainly not limited to vocals. A former violin player, the young musician also includes piano, harmonica and guitar in his musical repertoire.
Formerly known as “Mr. Boi,” Colby says that that was “just a filler name” and now he prefers simply “Colby.”
When surfing around his YouTube collection, you’ll notice great variety – remixes, original songs, harmonicas, even some Spanish lyrics.
“I definitely prefer to write my own stuff. I mean, I’ve always written my own music, but as far as making songs goes, like the music behind it, I was more interested in remixes, but now I’m definitely more interested in producing my own music.”
He seeks to inspire, explore and establish himself in the world of music through his own compositions.
He is not without inspirations himself, though, and his preference as far as listening to music comes in a wide range of styles and talents.
“One of my big inspirations is Chilly Gonzales, he’s a piano composer,” Colby said. “He’s really amazing. I listen to a lot of his stuff.”
Colby also said that he looks up to some of the “big, major artists,” too. Performers such as Drake, Lil Wayne, Jay-Z and Kanye West keep the South senior dreaming big.
“I look up to them because they got to that point, which means that they did something right,” he said.
To say that music is a part of Colby’s life would be a gross understatement. In actuality, it would be hard to look at Colby’s schedule and see anything but music. Every Friday he travels to the Eastman School of Music in Rochester to work on new piano compositions. With occasional performances of rapping and singing, and YouTube videos all over the Web, he is certainly not afraid to show the world what he’s got.
He first started to share his talents when he put himself on YouTube.
“I guess that’s what everyone does, so I kind of gave it a shot,” he said.
His music videos have given Colby a small taste of fame, as the occasional recognition from fans fuels his ambition.
“We get that kind of [recognition] around town. It’s pretty cool,” he said.
Colby uses high-quality equipment in his videos, readily admitting that he’s always been “tech savvy” and has accumulated equipment over the years.
“From the first time I started, my music wasn’t sounding so good,” he said, “but by now like it’s almost sounding professional with the same equipment. So it’s not really what you have, more how you use it.”
The buzz surrounding this local rising talent hit a peak recently as rapper Kyle Harvey (known to fans as K.i.D.) plans to feature Colby on his next album, “Beautiful Loser.”
“I’ve been a big fan of [Kyle Harvey] for about two years. He’s not like a huge artist but he’s pretty big, so I found him on Facebook. I added him, I added his producer, and one day after I posted one of my videos up, his producer messaged me and he’s like, ‘Kid, I really like your stuff.’ ”
So what’s next for Colby?
“Right now I’m trying to focus most of my attention on recording, and [preparing for college],” he said. He hopes to attend New York University next fall to study in its Creative Music Program.
“I mean, as like a dream, yeah, that would be awesome to become a successful, famous musician, but I produce my own music and stuff like that so I think that’s a venture I’d rather take versus being a performer, because it’s a lot tougher to make it as a performer,” Colby says. “But I think I have an even chance of doing either.”
Rachel Whalen is a sophomore at Williamsville South High School.