But a couple of weeks ago I came across a “Hotline Bling” remake that deserves its own distinction as the blackest version of “Hotline Bling” you will ever hear. This is not the blackest thing you will see all week. This might be the blackest thing you see all year. And instead of justifying its blackness, I thought I’d analyze it.
Let’s start with the man responsible for this hot, buttered, deep-fried remix of Drake’s smash hit. Anthony Hamilton is the Morgan Freeman of R&B singers. He’s weathered-looking like Freeman and his voice is just as recognizable as his thespian counterpart. Uncle Anthony looks and sounds like he doesn’t have a record deal, like he just got off work to sang a little something before he goes back to work. If he came out with a cookbook of catfish recipes, I wouldn’t be surprised and I’d buy two copies.
If you haven’t already watched the video, please do so now and don’t stream it then go along and do something else while you’re listening. Watch this shit. There are no special effects or stunts. It’s just Uncle Anthony and his fishing buddies he calls the Hamiltones chilling backstage before they’re about to whip a crowd of white linen wearers into a frenzy. Ever since I saw this video when it first came out, I’ve watched it everyday after my morning prayer, while cooking breakfast. I blame this video for the reason I’ve eaten grits for two weeks straight. There’s just so many things about it that make me happy.
Look at Uncle Anthony’s face when his boy starts singing. LOOK AT IT. That’s the face you make when you know your boy is about to shut it down.
Now, there’s a moment in the background you may have missed, but I noticed it and I can’t unsee it.
Look at this hat.
Is that a Yo MTV Raps snapback? In Charlotte Hornets colors? I could write a whole dissertation on 90s black identity through the intersection of Yo! MTV Raps and Charlotte Hornets colors. Also, that earring.
Now as the guys make their way to the main dressing room, for what will surely later be the most sanctified pre-concert prayer circle you’ll find outside of church doors, we see the rest of Uncle Anthony’s crew. I’d like to call attention to this fella right here, who is so nice with his backup singing vocals, he can fold clothes at the same time. What stood out to me at this moment was that look he’s giving the lead vocalist. Something about it let’s me know he knows that the lead backup singer always be fucking up the words to a song.
And sure enough, look at this here.
SEE!? Uncle Anthony knows it too.
Then we got this wardrobe selection from another brother that I want to talk about. A perfectly nice cotton sweater with LEATHER sleeves.
Bruh. I can’t see the pants but I’m sure they’re either leather or corduroy.
But the shining moment of this video, when it transitions from a backstage performance to something historic is at the end. “Hotline Bling” is the definition of a secular song, but when Uncle Anthony and his boys get their hands on it, they can’t help but give it to God.
Peep how Uncle Anthony says “Oh Lord,” at the end there while his boys clenches the Holy Spirit he’s catching into his chest? That’s how we know this is the blackest, most soulful, most beautiful rendition of “Hotline Bling” we will ever hear.