Story by Zondra Hughes
Images by Dewayne Rogers for steed media service (www.dewaynerogers.com)
Styling by Bou-Zhee’ Kinlock
Grooming by: Sedric Lenard and Makeup by Jeremy
Art Direction: Phoenix White
Anthony Hamilton doesn’t have a gimmick and he doesn’t need one.
Authenticity is Hamilton’s calling card, and he’s known for a strong, memorable vocal delivery that recalls the grand crooners of love songs and the kings of funk. In four minutes or less, Hamilton has the ability to capture the essence of a relationship, wrap it in raw emotion, and make the music come alive.
His songs of love and woe may be his own, but they are relatable, relevant and real.
Hamilton’s latest album, Back to Love, puts today’s couples on notice that they’re playing too many games of the heart. It’s time for some love therapy, black people, it’s time to stop the madness and get back to what black love is meant to be.
And if anyone can proclaim a “Back to Love” movement, it is Hamilton.
The artist understands love’s power and its transformational qualities — when handled with care, love can bring out the best in men and women. It can strengthen black families and communities for generations to come.
But Hamilton also knows the cruel side of love, as a child he experienced the stinging pain of unmet expectations and the deep-seated hurt of a mother’s rejection. Unfair as it was, love did not begin in the home for the young Anthony Hamilton, he had to look elsewhere and fortunately, he was adopted.
Today, he serves as the national spokesperson for the Court-Appointed Special Advocate Association — a nationwide network of volunteer advocates that support abused and neglected children who matriculate in family court.
“Being involved with CASA reminds me that not only have I been blessed enough to have my own biological family, but I was fortunate enough to have someone to adopt me and be loved,” Hamilton tells rolling out.
“God really looks after His children and I have to be somebody responsible, not only for my own children, but to go out and make sure these other children are safe [and] that they are properly cared for. There are a lot kids out there hurting because they were hurt by their own parents or they were removed from their families and they don’t feel like they’re worthy of love or what’s good in this world. And I’m here to tell them that, even though they may feel this way, you can get over it, I’m going to show you how to move on. And how to continue to love and not lose who you are.”
Hamilton argues that too many parents are focused on finding a mate with good genes, as opposed to finding a mate who will be a good role model and parent for their children.
“I think couples get caught up in, ‘we look good together, we’ll probably have some beautiful babies,’ even though you’ll have a messed up relationship,” Hamilton jibes. “If it’s a [quality] person, but you don’t feel like you’ll have a beautiful baby together, let the baby wear makeup! Put that love make up on her, and she’ll start looking good.”
Rolling out enlisted Hamilton to be the resident Dr. Love for this issue and he dutifully shares his diagnosis and prescription for getting the love back.
Anthony Hamilton, aka Dr. Love, if you had a new couple listen to this album in order to learn about love, what songs would you choose for them, and in what order?
The first song would be “Life Has a Way,” because it allows both of them to put their egos aside, that “know-it-all” [attitude], just put that aside then you both go on this journey together. And we don’t know it all. Instead of life having to humble us, let’s humble ourselves before we go into this relationship.
The next song would be “I’ll Wait for You to Fall in Love”; this is for a real couple who really wants something. That song establishes that I haven’t really been in love before — or maybe I have — but this is a grown-up step I’m making. And I’m waiting on you because I feel like you’re worth it.
After that, “Best of Me,” because this is what you want to give somebody, the best of you. And it’s so sexy, it’s a beautiful song: “Let’s stay personal, shampoo; I love it, having you near me, having you here. Hot conversation, outrageous, you smile and I smile and I say, let’s get personal. Let’s stay a while.”
And the chorus: “Give you the best of me, amazing. Having you next to me, amazing.” It just shows that person that this is special, it feels that good, and you are amazing.
What truth would you tell this couple about love that would hold true throughout time?
Love doesn’t boast, love doesn’t brag. Love doesn’t run. It’s pure, it’s very powerful, but it’s also fragile. Use the best of love, the truer part of love, which is real love. Love has to be understanding and patient, adored, appreciated, and reminded that it’s special too.
What is the biggest misconception about black love?
The biggest misconception about black love is that we don’t get along or we don’t evolve as a couple. She’s making too much money, or he’s making more, we have that “I’m not good enough” syndrome. But there are a lot of couples out there doing well together. Doctors and lawyers in one family, or nurses and construction workers in one family, and [they] are really doing well.
It’s a misconception that black love doesn’t last. We have … 60- or 65-year-old married couples. You have to find your strength, and your love within the Lord and you can have that too.
What is the one thing that you wish black women understood about black men?
I wish you understood that we love the subtle, soft-spoken woman a lot more than the aggressive attitude. Because once you adopt that attitude you tend to use it and you use it not for good anymore, it becomes an unbalance. We love the soft side of a sister. We love the soft side of a woman, the submissive side. A man has to make you comfortable enough to show that side, so you don’t have to be so defensive — so it’s a two-way street.
How can black men step up to the plate when it comes to relationships?
They can step up to the plate by making bigger commitments, being ready, knowing what they want first of all, because in a real relationship you’re trying to go to a place and make this a real commitment, and then make the step. But if it’s not what you want, be honest.
A lot of time we’ll play like this was a real relationship, when all we wanted was the intimate rewards.
How prevalent is this game of men wanting the intimate rewards without the commitment?
I think that’s just been a curse lived [out] year after year, for generations, and we have to break it.
Let’s flip the script on that. How can a woman tell if he’s dating around for intimate rewards, versus if he’s really trying to establish something?
If you’re dating around for company and you’re lonely, you’ll just take care of your physical needs, and/or emotional needs just for that moment. When you’re looking for a lifelong partner, you’re looking for that long-term commitment and comfort in the relationship, not just a sexual thing. You’ll make them wait.
He’ll make her wait, and he won’t mind waiting.
He’ll have a certain amount of patience and admiration for the person he’s spending time with. He won’t have that “whatever” attitude, and he’ll talk a certain way, he’ll talk like, “my wife” in his conversations and attitude. He’ll open doors and it won’t just last for two weeks, it will be an ongoing thing.
What do you want your fans to experience with this new album, Back to Love?
I want you to know feel like, OK, we’re on a ride now.
We’ve arrived and we’ve moved so far away from real love and the quality of life, and that quality of life is to be a reminder to us all. It’s not about the quantity; it’s about the quality of life and living, of loving your mother, or your father, your kids, and loving yourself.
Let’s get back to when you feel good about that, [so] we’re not just living a quantity life, but a quality life.
Love is sexy and it’s necessary. I want us to realize that we’ve gotten off track and we’re living day-to-day, we must invite love.
Slow down, take your time, they don’t even slow dance in the clubs anymore. Just slow down, turn on the blue light again, and let’s get back to what’s comfortable to our souls.