It amazes me the amount of people that have not heard of Mayer Hawthorne. His original style sets him apart from the copycat, tired, reproduced drivvle that we are constantly fed by mainstream radio. Hawthorne represents the movement of skilled musicians not making music to appeal to the studios but to the hearts of listeners. He has become a leader in creating new old soul music being made by a old new souls, can you dig it?
Hawthorne was originally known as Dj Haircut, a triple threat DJ/Producer/Vocalist that specialized in playing Hip-Hop, R & B, Funk, Reggae, Rock, and Techno records. He grew popular by being known to play music with soul.
He initially tried to leverage Dj Haircut fame into a hip-hop career but “got frustrated with the chauvinistic side of rap,” the genre is not very receptive to songs about love and relationships. He simply couldnt make the music he wanted making hip hop. So he tried his hand at creating soul tunes.
A native to Ann Arbor, Michigan a suburb just outside of Detroit he grew up listening to “some of the best music ever made.”– Motown. His knowledge and appreciation of Motown and other retro tunes are obvious influences on his signature Hawthorne sound; high toned sharp vocals, romantic lyrics, upbeat melodies and catchy choruses that cause you to bop and bounce around to the rhythm.
Take a listen to his debut single, “Just Ain’t Gonna Work Out” that is two parts Smokey Robinson and 1 part J-dilla and take notice. This guy is creating music that sounds like it is from another time but IS brand new, the key word here is ‘creating‘. New music, yes with old influences, but not someone else’s style, not someone else’s song, not someone else’s anything. This dude even plays most of his own instruments. “Just Aint..” was released on a red heart-shaped 7″ record on Stones Throw Records on November 4, 2008. Now his sound, clothes, feel of his image and even record shape may have a retro taste, seasoning or flavour but that does not make it retro. It is new fresh and welcomed.
His debut album, A Strange Arrangement followed shortly after and blew the shit out of the game – but only for those keen enough to take notice.
Recently he remixed the Snoop Dogg track “Gangsta Love”. The chorus was originally sang by The Dream but Hawthorne whipped his style on the track and transformed it from a hip hop track to something else. Compare the original and the remix, and let me know what you think. The remix was such a hit Snoop sought the ‘funky white boy’ out so the two could meet.
Hawthorne recently returned to do a show in Vancouver, on Nov 8th he crushed a performance at The Biltmore Cabaret – click for my review. The ‘crisp’ debonair songbird fills the stage with his presence, style and swagger. Hawthorne performed a new track “No Strings” which is now available for download on MAZDA2MusicTour.com. When he comes back it is a must see and he did promise to return.
Mayer Hawthorne is working on his second album that is certainly going to be a treat. Take Notice of this guy and enjoy the refreshing sound of a true musical innovator.
Photo 1 courtesy of yayeveryday.com.
Photo 2 courtesy of William Olguin on Flickr.
Photo 3 courtesy of Alicia Grunert.
- Can a Nerd Have Soul? (nytimes.com)
- Mayer Hawthorne at the Biltmore Cabaret (beyond robson)
- Phillyist Playlist: Mayer Hawthorne at the TLA (phillyist.com)
- A Q&A with Mayer Hawthorne (spin.com)
- Mayer Hawthorne & The County’s Scintillating Soul Sounds (chicagoist.com)
- Live Review: Mayer Hawthorne, Gordon Voidwell @ Neumos 11/7 (kexp.org)