Anthony Hamilton: The Soul of “American Gangster”

When the producers of “American Gangster” needed an artist to deliver that seventies soul groove, Anthony Hamilton was the first and only name that popped up on their radar. Hamilton has become known for having a powerful, distinctive voice, in the tradition of great soul singers like Bill Withers, Bobby Womack and Otis Redding.

Hamilton, who rose to fame with his platinum-selling major studio album debut “Comin’ from Where I’m From,” makes his major movie debut in “American Gangster,” performing a live cameo. Hamilton also heads the lead single off the “American Gangster” soundtrack, titled “Do You Feel Me,” composed by mega-platinum Grammy-winning and Oscar-nominated songwriter Diane Warren.

In this interview, Hamilton, who is also a big fan of Scarface, says people need to watch the movie for what it really is (entertainment) and not idolize it. He also talks about his come up and the struggles he faced as a youngin’ and his son who he had just before he turned 17.

Singersroom: What’s going on Ant?

Anthony Hamilton: I’m doing great bra, how you doing?

Singersroom: I’m doing well fam. Been a minute since we last caught up…what have you been doing with yourself?

Anthony Hamilton: Well…we just completed the movie “American Gangster,” you know I have a part in that. It’s basically an on camera cameo singing in the movie. I did two songs on the soundtrack. Also I just did my first country record with Josh Turner; a duet. I did a duet with Al Green for his new album plus I did backgrounds on another song. I wrote a duet with Keyshia Cole on her new album and I did a record with Chingy. The Chingy record is pretty good, plus no curse words (laughs).

Singersroom: (Laughs)…Looks like you’ve been keeping real busy. So speaking of songs, “Do You Feel Me” is a hot record, what made you choose that song?

Anthony Hamilton: Actually it’s a Dianne Warren song. I just sung it like I wanted to. We took time to revamp the music, then I had to vocally and soulfully deliver the song to the level it needed to be.

Singersroom: You know how you do! Anytime you put soul to a record it’s a wrap.

Anthony Hamilton: (Laughs)…I appreciate that. I just try to do what I do man. It was definitely a great written song.

Singersroom: So…What’s your favorite Gangster film?

Anthony Hamilton: Well I think right next to Scarface this is a great movie. I’ve seen it twice already and I love it. It’s a really great movie man…2 hours strong; I wish it was 3 hours (laughs).

Singersroom: So speaking of Scarface, a lot of times people in our community idolize these movies and get caught up in the lifestyle instead of just viewing it as entertainment. Do you think this movie will have that kind of hold on our community?

Anthony Hamilton: Well I mean there are going to be those that are naïve and they’re going to try to go off and imitate some of these images and then they’re gonna get caught up. But for me personally I’m not getting caught up in nothing…I got enough going on with just living a regular life. With doing music, being a cook, and being a father, I don’t have time to be playing games…I gotta go get groceries.

Singersroom: (Laughs)…Get that Money.

Anthony Hamilton: (Laughs)…I ain’t got time to carry no pistols…I got too much bottles of water, turkey meat and potatoes in my hand. I’ll send one of those good potatoes over to Singersroom (laughs). But at the end man…it’s up to us and the community to be responsible for our lives and take this movie for what it really is. Even though he was living good and making a lot of money, it ended up tragic and it ruined a lot of lives and destroyed communities. So there is nothing to glorify in selling drugs and profiting off your community, even though one person can get rich….it’s just a big contradictory. As we can see today, drugs destroy communities.

Singersroom: Was your community affected by drugs when you were coming?

Anthony Hamilton: Of course. Alcohol, drugs, domestic violence, all that stuff. I saw it all first hand. Right next door…right next to it…the same room. I had to make a decision whether to fall in those footsteps or to try to create a place where I could have God bestow up on me the right way. God was and still is a necessary part of my life in choosing which route to take. I’m not saying I was all good, but when I slipped, I had that faith and he kept me.

Singersroom: We know you did the right thing to become the positive image you are today, but did you ever get caught on the wrong side of the law when you were coming up?

Anthony Hamilton: Yeah…I tried selling drugs, I tried smoking them too. You know what I mean! I did a lot of that stuff. But at the end of the day I just knew I wanted to do better. I new that drugs and these other things would be detrimental to where I was trying to go and what was destined for me, so I had to make a decision to outdo myself with drugs, alcohol, and sleeping around. Sex is a drug too; you can definitely overdose on that.

Singersroom: Yeah man…I think good or bad, we all tried something coming up.

Anthony Hamilton: Yeah…we all have to make a choice and God gave me my son pretty early, matter of fact he just turned nineteen. I was just turning seventeen when I had my first child, so I had to really be like wow…I have a life that’s depending on me and I have to hold my half and hold myself accountable for the decisions I make.

Singersroom: Now with “American Gangster,” why did you choose to be apart of this movie?

Anthony Hamilton: Well It chose me…it chose me to sing in it. I guess from previous records it really made sense.

Singersroom: So on that note, would you rather be loved or respected?

Anthony Hamilton: I think if you love somebody you’ll respect them so I would rather be loved. To me, if you’re not loved, you’re looking for respect in a negative way; from violence to bad decisions just to get respect. But once your dealing in love…the respect you get is pure and genuine.

Singersroom: So when should we expect the next Anthony Hamilton Album?

Anthony Hamilton: Man I’m working on that right now. It’s really brewing and I’m looking to drop it February 5th, but I have no title yet though. But it will come to me.

Singersroom: Have you worked with anyone special so far?

Anthony Hamilton: I worked with Van Hunt, Mark Madsen, Gildon Wooten, who is amazing; he used to work with Rafael Saadiq for a long time. Not to mention the barrow the booth symphony. I had to borrow somebody’s booth and I was making music with a booth and a board. I’m the borrow booth symphony (laughs). But besides that I talked to some other people, I won’t call there names yet just in case they can’t be apart of it.

Singersroom: That’s cool cause the second album was tough. A lot of people like the first album because of all the struggle but musically the second disc was crazy.

Anthony Hamilton: It was really good man…but people wanted me to be heartbroken again. Allowing me to be me and really listening to the album, I thought it was a great album. I thought it was a mature step up from “Comin’ From Where I’m From.” This new one will also be a gradual climb, hopefully people will allow me to do what I do and stop judging it and just enjoy it.

Singersroom: Cool…well it was good catching up with you Ant, I guess we will get up for the upcoming album.

Anthony Hamilton: Sounds good brotha, I’ll make sure to have my mustache polished. Thanks for everything. —— By: Interview By Gary ‘JM’ Gentles


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