When it comes to being the greatest crooner of our time, Anthony Cornelius Hamilton fits the bill. In his own words, he is easily the “flyest thang that life could ever bring / Like fresh air to me / the blood I bleed / sent to me …” and certainly, I’m not alone in that mindset. Over 50 million albums sold worldwide is proof enough. The Charlotte, North Carolina, singer has cranked out so much quality work over the course of his career it is easy to lose track. His body of work includes 10 solo albums, Hamilton gently corrects me when I call out seven. Many of his fans are unaware that XTC, released in 1996, is his first studio album, and not the soul-snatching sophomore album Comin’ From Where I From.
Though that raspy voice has come a long way since then, Hamilton told MADAMENOIRE that his latest album Love Is The New Black, a solid package bearing 14 tracks, is indeed returning back to the foundational roots of the latter in terms of its emotion and soulfulness but integrating a somewhat different sound vocally:
“I’m bringing some of that Rick James,” Hamilton said. “—Some of that sexy,” when asked what fans might expect.
I asked Hamilton if incorporating these sounds were an exploration of sorts, thus it was of no surprise when he answered that these are vocal “skills stored in the toolbox.”
The Grammy-winner shared that he enlisted Jermaine Dupri for production, as well as up and coming, millennial talent like Cardiac and Drumma Boy, who were able to bring it and contribute to the Anthony Hamilton sound we all know and love. He affirmed that Black love is the overarching theme of Love Is The New Black, and really I can’t think of a better narrator. While we were on the topic of love the balladeer allowed me to get all up in his business.
“Yeah, I’m single,” Hamilton confirmed. He and Tarsha, his wife of 10 years, announced their split in 2015. “I love love. I love seeing people in love. I still celebrate and support it, but There’s no love at the moment,” he added.
But I begged to differ.
“You got a point there,” the Cornbread, Fish & Collard Greens artist agreed when I suggested that he is very much involved in a current love affair—the one he has with the music.
“Ida, you’re right. My love affair with music is the relationship I’ve gone the hardest for and poured every bit of myself into.”
—And it shows. His decades-long career and success is a testament to the words that drift so coolly, yet passionate from his mouth. They are wrapped in Carolina diction and a soulful truth. I couldn’t let Hamilton slip away to his next round of obligations without sharing his Top 5 with us. His rundown: “In no particular order” he said. “Bill Withers, Jazmine Sullivan, Jodeci, of course—Lauren Hill. I love hip-hop, so if number five could be two people Kendrick Lamar and Drake.”
*Interview edited for length