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Friday, May 17, 2024
Mayer Hawthorne

No soul shortage from Mayer Hawthorne

Andrew Mayer Cohen first landed in Los Angeles intent on pursuing a hip-hop career. His grind earned him a record deal. It also led to the discovery of his knack for neo-soul and the side project that would end up becoming Mayer Hawthorne—the smooth soul cat with a sound as slick its origins.

“Initially it was something I was doing to get around sample clearance issues,” he reminisced. “It’s crazy how it’s come full circle.”

Inspired by the likes of J. Dilla, Hall & Oates, Motown and back again, Hawthorne’s music has cultivated a devoted following from all walks of life. This includes those old enough to appreciate the throwback to fans young enough to recognize his sound primarily from the genetically modified and chipmunk-sounding fragments embraced by the production of Kanye West and the like.

“It’s been a really cool thing to watch…almost a 540 or maybe even a 720, where I grew up listening to hip hop and learning about soul music through hip hop,” he said.

“Now I’ve started making soul music, and now hip hop cats are sampling me, so that’s definitely an awesome thing to watch go down.”

As one fan put it, “[Mayer] brings the old school to the new school, ya dig?”

To another, Strange Arrangement’s single “Just Ain’t Gonna Work Out” has the power to “make your soul glow.”

The former was my classmate in high school geometry (circa 2009), the latter the illustrious Snoop Dogg in a US Weekly interview, but the bottom line remains the same: the youthful energy Hawthorne soulfully delivers is irresistible.

It’s an energy he brings to all of his performances, as one glance at his Facebook page affirms; stumble onto it any day and you’re likely to find a shot of the multitalented musician (presumably taken by a member of his backup in The Country) on stage with the crowd behind him—sometimes in a red tuxedo (perfect for a Madison show but, according to Hawthorne, a game-day decision), but always in high tops or Jordans and enjoying every minute of the ride.

“It’s different every night, and that’s part of the fun,” he said. “The thing that’s the same every night is that it’s a party.”

He’s knows a thing or two about how Madison can get down—his first show in Madison at the Memorial Union Rathskeller in 2010 was during Halloween weekend.

“That was one of the craziest shows ever,” he recalls. “Halloween in Madison is no joke; you guys take that shit hella serious.”

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Hawthorne’s visit comes on the heels of the one-year anniversary of the major label debut How Do You Do. Anchored by the standout “No Strings” and “Can’t Stop”—featuring, you guessed it, Snoop Dogg—it’s a progression from the delicacy of his first album into an expansion of his era-defying sounds.

But let’s be real: the only place more popping than the Majestic Theatre on Thursday Oct. 18 will be Ian’s Pizza.

“You know I’m about to get my macaroni and cheese pizza,” he deadpanned over the phone. “That’s the whole reason I take the gigs. It’s all about the food.”

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