Tuxedo – Tuxedo (Stones Throw, 2015)
Contrary to the general public’s belief, Mark Ronson is not the first contemporary musician to discover the limitless power of homaging the most remarkable sounds of funk and soul.*
When in 2010 The New York Times Magazine’s catchily** titled article ‘Can a Nerd Have Soul?’ introduced me to Mayer Hawthorne, I couldn’t have predicted the steady and meaningful relationship we’d develop.
It’s no secret that from day one of discovering him, I’ve pimped Mayer Hawthorne to everyone around me and have thus managed to create a small but solid Hawthorne following in the pits of Eastern European hell – you’re welcome, Mayer.
Since those first blissful days of romance, Hawthorne has released several albums, beautifully covered some already beautiful songs, DJed as DJ Haircut, been on Daryl Hall’s ‘Live From Daryl’s House’ alongside keyboard legend Booker T. Jones and, in more recent times, taken part in two entirely different projects.
Jaded Incorporated is a beat wave duo consisting of Mayer and 14KT, with a sound so different from anything Mayer has done so far that it caught some fans off guard.
And then there’s Tuxedo – another duo, this time consisting of Mayer and Jake One, with a sound so quintessentially Mayer that the purists can breathe a sigh of relief, put their dancing shoes and disco sunglasses on and get on with it.
Now, I like to consider myself a very open minded fan – I’m not one to take the pitchfork out whenever a favourite artist decides to try something different or go a little bit mainstream with their artistic choices.
That said, I couldn’t help but feel that Mayer’s last album ‘Where Does This Door Go’ fell a little bit flat after the two very distinctive, joyous, bright and original full-lengths that came before it. I think it’s safe to say that the reason for the relative un-remarkableness of ‘Where Does This Door Go’ was that it lacked that Mayer-specific offbeat sound which makes his production special.
In the end of the day, someone like Pharrell may be a great producer but anything he makes ends up being a Pharrell song. And what I originally fell in love with years ago were Mayer songs.
This is where Tuxedo comes in – bringing back all of the character, all of the hooks, the highly danceable funk beats, the pure outbursts of fun that we’re used to hearing from our favourite soulful nerd.
Call it post-disco boogie or G-funk or just an explosion of classy good times, one thing’s for sure – there’s no way you’d manage to remain still while listening to Tuxedo’s debut self-titled album.
It’s funny that on my first listen of Tuxedo’s album, the general vibes I got from it were similar to those I get from ‘Henny & Gingerale’. Turns out the track was originally intended as a Tuxedo song which eventually found its way onto a Mayer album. ‘Designer Drug’ is another Tuxedo song produced by Jake One which ended up on a Hawthorne album.
And who is Jake One, the other half of Tuxedo? Jake One comes from a hip-hop background, having been part of G-Unit’s production team and having produced tunes for 50 Cent, De La Soul, Rakim, Cypress Hill, Ghostface Killa and more.
On paper, the coming together of these two might seem strange but in musical form, it makes a whole lotta sense. Listen to Tuxedo’s ‘Number One’ for example – what does that chorus remind you of?
‘We always wondered what the original sample was for Snoop‘s ‘Ain’t No Fun (If the Homies Can’t Have None)’. Since we couldn’t figure it out, we decided we would make it,’ say the guys and the musical comradery between these two becomes very apparent.
But hey, I’ve overwritten my welcome! NPR Music has a full stream of Tuxedo’s album RIGHT HERE so listen, dance, smile, enjoy.
Tuxedo’s self-titled debut comes out on March 3rd, on Stones Throw.
*I wrote this sentence before reading NPR’s article and seeing that they made a Mark Ronson reference as well. I suppose that if NPR says it, then it must be a smart thing to say, then that must mean I’m not a complete idiot.
**Is ‘catchily’ a word? May I please invent it?
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