Haj is, Anthony J Hamilton, a true Hip Hop recording artist hailing from Charlotte NC. The name 'haj' comes from the Muslim word 'hajj' or 'haj' which means- 'on a journey or pilgrimage to reach the Mecca'. Upon reading a book about Malcolm X but not the autobiography, the book discussed the pilgrimage or "hajj" Malcolm X made on his trip to Mecca. Haj found this reading very interesting and decided that his alter ego's name would become haj, simply by using the letters from his first middle and last name but also to the artist, haj means, Hip Hop and Jazz. Though haj is not of the Muslim religion, haj is, in a sense his name as he has always been on his own journey........ through his music. Haj has been writing lyrics since 1992 and his first recording project began in 1993 and in the midst of recording he was introduced to the jazz/avant-garde vibe. The project that followed was called 'Daily Meditations'; this was an experimental project for him because he wasn't into jazz music at the beginning of his career. "Daily Meditations" was a mostly live project that was dubbed 'improvisation over lyrics' because the only things that were written were the lyrics. The project which includes the title song, 'Daily Meditations', 'dedication: Peaches and Cream', 'Haze', 'Causin Mass Hysteria' and 'Wayz of the Dayz', to name a few and in some respects are musical masterpieces. In 1995, after completing the "Daily Meditations" project, haj traveled from Charlotte NC to Manhattan NY to shop his songs and recorded a few songs while in NYC at 'HUSH', then it was on to Atlanta GA. Upon his return to Charlotte NC haj decided to go independent with his producer and a friend and recorded a remix version of one of haj's signature songs 'Wayz of the Dayz' and released it as a single on their label Looneybin Entertainment. The first performance for haj was with a live band in 1996 at a spot called the Moon Room, located in uptown Charlotte NC and subsequently a performance at the Visage Lounge, City Lites and a few other clubs in the area. Haj then discovered spoken word poetry and began performing the local poetry spots to keep his written and lyrical skills sharp. Haj continued writing and recording and returned to the studio to begin working on his newest project 'outside myself' at Asylum Digital Recording Studio. "Situation", a very heart felt song was haj's first recording on his new project. Haj recorded many songs for the new project but went back to the glory days of Hip Hop with his respectful and Hip Hop quotable song "Fast Food" followed by the catchy tune "Can't Get Out the Game". There is also his obvious call to take look at the person in the mirror with "Do You Get Me?" and the smooth 'Music (Life Line)'. haj also performed a showcase at Club Tempo which landed haj a spot at the Verizon Amphitheatre in Charlotte NC as one of many opening acts for the Blast From The Past Old School Show in September 2006 featuring Grand Master Flash and the Furious Five, Kurtis Blow, Yo Yo, Whodini, Slick Rick, Doug E Fresh and Dana Dane. Along with writing and recording his lyrics, haj has also maintained his love of poetry and spoken word with occassional performances at the Wine Up, located in the NoDa district of Charlotte NC. THE CONNEX LIST Here's another artist that makes me want to dig through this seemingly endless stack of wack demos, mixtapes, EP's and albums on, under and around my desk. Haj is not only an interesting name, but an interesting artist as well. From the diapers to the microphone, this cat lives, breathes and sleeps with HipHop running through his soul. He makes a point of saying that he's not one of these fly by night rappers who just spits non-sense and bullshit over various beats. He's studied this craft and it shows. This is an excellent album and worth every penny. -THE WONDER TWINZ PERFORMER MAGAZINE On his sophomore LP, Outside Myself, Charlotte-native MC haj let's his listeners know early on that although his style may be from the oldschool, his music is not to be categorized into a cell. Over a funk-looped sample layered with a rhythmic bass line and swaggering high-hats, he raps, "Outside of the box is where you'll find me / Those confined to it can step behind me," on the third track "I Got Options." But haj doesn't strictly focus on battle raps and witty wordplay. The soft-spoken MC steers away from chauvinistic, testosterone-filled stage personalities of many rappers these days, revealing his more vulnerable and sensitive side on songs like "Strive" and "Situation." "Outside Myself" has it's ups and downs. Although the production varies from song to song, haj's presence remains the same: in the music, yet outside of himself. -Wahid Khoshravani CREATIVE LOAFING Charlotte's Anthony J. Hamilton releases latest effort - no, not the R&B singer (note the 'J.'). Recorded at Charlotte's Asylum Digital Recording Studio and mixed at Studio B, the album opens with the scratched-up 'Fast Food' with an A Tribe Called Quest vibe. Just when you think the album will continue to be laid back, it gets funky with 'I Got Options.' The slow groove of 'Music (Life Line)' gets sped up thanks to a quick beat laid over it. Haj also gets help on that track from LaVita Harris and Lloyd Williams for a solid vocal trio. The lyrics are mostly personal, giving the album more depth. -Jeff Hahne.