Anthony Hamilton's Heights
Embodying the message is the first single "Cool" featuring David Banner, on which Hamilton sings, "You can conquer the world," over a looping, guitar-tinged beat. "It's a down-South, feel-good track with a little island thing to it," he says. "The lyrics are about day-to-day life, the struggles and trying to make things happen without a lot. But, of course, there's a happy ending."
The artist's brand of tell-it-like-it-is R&B and soul found an audience on his 2003 So So Def debut, "Comin' From Where I'm From," which has sold more than 1.3 million copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan. The follow-up, 2005's "Ain't Nobody Worryin'," has moved 639,000.
Now, Hamilton is looking at the other side of love on the piano-based, uptempo "Falling in Love," which he describes as a combination of an Elvis Presley and James Brown track, and the title cut, a love ballad in contention to be released as a single early next year. "Be careful when listening to it," Hamilton says of the latter cut. "If you don't have kids, you might have some after this one."
Hamilton also addresses the current economic crisis ("Souls on Fire") and the dangers of infidelity ("Please Stay"). "We must not forget things can still go on in the world that affect you and even in your own relationship," he says.
Mark Batson, Kelvin Wooten, the Avila Brothers, Salaam Remi, Jack Splash and Dre & Vidal contributed production to the project, while Banner, Fatin Dantzler from Kindred the Family Soul and Hamilton's wife, Tarsha' McMillian Hamilton, make guest appearances.
Hamilton is reinforcing the connection with his audience through a tour blog on his official Web site and MySpace page. In the meantime, Jive is working to align him with either a high-end liquor company or a female lifestyle brand to help broaden his audience.
"I just want to make sure it's some real smart stuff that I believe in," Hamilton adds. "I'm not trying to put people in the slaughterhouse, but an occasional glass of wine or cognac won't kill you. I want to make sure it's responsible branding."
Hamilton's guest spots on recent albums have also kept him visible while his own album, which was delayed on a couple of occasions, was nearing release. He appears on Young Jeezy's new "The Recession," two songs on Al Green's "Lay It Down," the "Soul Men" soundtrack and, oddly enough, on songs with country artists Josh Turner and Big & Rich's John Rich.
"I love country," Hamilton says of the collaborations. "I wrote the song for Josh Turner—he's a good friend of mine—and he said he'd be honored if I duetted with him."
It all ties in with an old-school approach to music, one that seems unconcerned with deadlines or deals for the sake of making deals. "Sometimes deadlines get in the way of some really good things," Hamilton says. "That's why I didn't want to rush it. Now, it feels complete."