Exclusive Hamilton Park Interview
They should’ve been stars basking in the glow of sold out shows. Talented, marketable, well-moisturized and very Atlanta, Hamilton Park had the juice–4 ATLien church boys cut from leather Jodeci vest fabrics with the legendary Andre Harrell guiding their career. It was perfect. Maybe too perfect. And after four short years, the group ventured off into what they’ve called a hiatus.
Once again, undeniable talent spiraled into uncertainty, dreams faded and loyal fans were left disappointed and confused. What seemed like the end of Hamilton Park and everything Markus Free, Royce P., Chris Voice and Anthony worked (and fought) for actually marked the beginning of the hottest comeback story in music today.
We caught up with the stronger (and wiser) collective who gave us an exclusive look into their return for the R&B crown–a very ambitious bounce-back with a litty comeback single (“Jumpin’ Off”) and saucy new visuals–but let’s start from the very beginning for those late to the wave.
(Chris Voice) “We started on the east side of Atlanta, that’s where me and my dawgs came together, we pulled it together, and we started training at that certain park and we took everything and brought it together–started singing there, started working out there, started training there and thru our hustle got discovered by the great Andre Harrell”
Things went from 0-100 real quick for unsigned hype Hamilton Park who leveled-up from known unknowns to Andre Harrell’s hottest new group.
(Ant) “We were circulating our EP throughout the beauty salons, the barbershops, everywhere, and Andre Harrell was doing a nationwide search and came to Atlanta and did a radio interview (with V103’s Maria Moore) and she was like ‘yo, have you heard of this group here in Atlanta? They’re the hottest thing moving right now, check them out and, in addition to our [former] management setting up the meeting, that was pretty much that point where Andre Harrell was like ‘well, who are these guys? Where are they? How can I get to them?” and that was pretty much it after that”
“We went to St. Regis in Buckhead and from there we made such a ruckus in the lobby they had all the attendants coming in–they were trying to see what was going on–and we were crowded on top of the pool tables, on top of the tables, aye, get this deal, let’s go!”
With their Atlantic deal came fame, seas of screaming fans and tough lessons along the way.
(Royce P.) “Atlantic Records hopped on board, showed us love and took our hustle to the next level. It was lit. Everything was moving so fast. We really got some great exposure, magazines, radio, TV shows and the tours that were set-up, specifically the –Scream Tour–shouts out to Michael Mauldin–for allowing us to be a part of such an incredible franchise. That was huge for us. Those unique experiences gave us the opportunity to grow as artists and business men. But it definitely wasn’t easy”
(-Ant jumps in-) “Yea, a lot of artists can get caught up in the artistry and not really pay attention to the business side of it but we’ve been fortunate enough to learn a lot and grow from some of the lessons that we learned (and I wouldn’t even call them mistakes) and we’re making our claim, you know, shout out to Lost In Music, PlayTime, Jumpin’ Off, you know!”
Aside from being honest and open (about everything), they kept it funky about their young, rich and famous misadventures.
(Ant) “Listen, I got f#cked up, I ain’t gon’ lie, I got turnt a few nights, I’m not an alcoholic but I did get drunk and there’s lessons in that. You can’t go to the club and turn up and get drunk, especially when you gotta get up at 6 am and do a radio interview and then you got soundcheck and then you gotta be on stage. You definitely can’t do that.
In addition to that, man, there were just so many girls trying to get at ya boy but I was too drunk to holla (laughs)”
Wait, there’s more…
(Ant) “I think one of the most important lessons is if you have a groupie, don’t get involved with their auntie. Kinda can mess up the whole flow sometimes. It was a lotta aunties that was trying to hop down, man (laughs) I’m just sayin”
(Markus Free) “But we, as young men, started transitioning into grown men and went down the pathway of growing up and so there were a lot of things we didn’t pay attention to when we first started because we were caught up in the glitz and the glamour of just being signed, just off the excitement and the hype”
With the past in their rear view and the bag on their mind, they’re ready for Hamilton Park SZN.
(Markus Free) “A few years later as our own businessmen, own company, independent, strong, solidified, it was all necessary and again the name of that company is Lost In Music and at the time, I think it’s kinda funny, we were probably a lil lost but we were lost IN music and I believe thats what really gave us that idea to go with Lost In Music like ‘yo, lets staple this’ so we never forget what grew us up in this industry”
(Ant) “At first we were artists, and then we became businessmen and alongside that we started our own label, we’ve done videos, we’re doing our own production, we’re doing our own treatments for our videos, writing our own songs along with some incredible songwriters”
(Chris Voice) “Everything that we got goin’ on right now is pretty much all in house, from all the production of the videos, from everything that we’re doing, everything that you’re about to see from Hamilton park is Hamilton park. We’re in rare form right now because it’s all us, it’s strictly our personality, our mental, it’s so Atlanta, it’s true to what’s going these days and what’s relevant to culture”
Back, better and determined to win, Hamilton Park dropped the first of THREE videos (shot in one weekend) off their comeback EP, and yes, it’s LIT.
(Markus Free) “The whole concept behind “Jumpin Off” was… ‘if the Migos decided to do R&B, what would that sound like?’ And it felt so fresh. The way we did “Jumpin Off’ is how we are now versus us trying to come back and give you some Jodeci type vibe music”
A lot of the writers we worked with, and shout out to Dre of ThePress by the way, have this Hip-Hop ear so when you blend that with our heavy R&B background it comes across like “Jumpin Off” like “Leave It In” like “Love Me To Sleep” which is what the EP is gonna be so honest about. Like I said, imagine if Migos was like ‘we gon’ do R&B.’ And to help us convey that visually, we sought out Joy Young of J. Couture Productions who, in her directorial debut, did an incredible job, we can’t thank her enough. And we definitely can’t forget Troya of Selfless Imagez who was behind the camera capturing all the madness (laughs)”
And you know the fellas couldn’t dip out without showing love to their devoted fan base (HP Sweethearts) who were there when hits like “Computer Love” and “Thing Called Us” popped everywhere…
(Royce P.) “They’re an incredible group of young ladies who have been supporting us since Day 1–since before Day 1–and we appreciate them so much. We thank them for their patience and we cant wait to give them what they’ve been asking for. And I know they’re going to love what we have to give. HP sweethearts I’m sending my love out to yall”
(Markus Free) “I think the fans, our sweethearts and followers, are really gonna be like ‘dang, it was worth the wait. It was really worth that wait.’ From how we are, from how our music is sounding, and how we look now, we get to be ourselves, and the fans are really gonna enjoy what we give them this time around, especially with what we have lined up for the visuals now”
It’s been a helluva ride for the super cool quartet from east Atlanta full of bumps, zig-zags, HP letterman jackets, auntie-groupies, not-always-good decisions and plot twists but now we’re here and growth is a beautiful thing.