“We’ll return to its former glory / but it just takes so long / It’s gonna take a long time / but we’ll make it one day…”
And so go the lyrics to Mayer Hawthorne’s “A Long Time,” the lead single and video off of his upcoming sophomore release, “How Do You Do,” scheduled to drop this fall. It’s a lyric that speaks to Detroit; the city the young hip-hop producer turned soul singer played his first shows.
Under the guidance of Stones Throw Records founder Peanut Butter Wolf, Hawthorne (born Andrew Cohen) released the critically acclaimed “A Strange Arrangement” in 2009. Since then, he hasn’t seen much of Motown. As one tour ended, another was sure to begin. But in the media area at Lollapalooza 2011, it’s obvious where Hawthorne’s heart is both musically and emotionally.
“I got so much love for Detroit,” explains Hawthorne, his signature soul style a direct reflection of the Motown movement the city birthed. “I really care about the city and I do everything I can to help out and get us through this rough patch. I know we’re going to be back on top.
At Lollapalooza 2011, Hawthorne was one of a handful of Detroit performers keeping the city, its music and its culture on top. Up-and-coming indie darlings Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. brought their afternoon delight to Sunday’s line-up, while superstar Eminem headlined the festival on Saturday night.
Hawthorne’s set on Saturday afternoon highlighted his knack for entertaining (as well as his knack for fashion), as his band The County -- one of the tightest outfits at the festival this past weekend -- didn’t let the energy slip away from the audience for a split second. In addition to new track “Dreaming,” Hawthorne and his band worked through transitional covers like Snoop Dogg and Pharrell’s “Beautiful” as well as Hall & Oates’ “You Make My Dreams Come True” (Hawthorne is, after all, hitting the road with unofficial Hall & Oates cover group Chromeo this fall).
While Hawthorne remained relatively tight lipped about his upcoming album, he did assure us that his camp is still very committed to the novelty vinyl market. In 2009, Hawthorne and Stones Throw released a heart-shaped 7” for single “Just Ain’t Gunna Work Out.” Some versions of his debut were accompanied by a limited edition 4”.
Everything is elevated, but it’s still that gritty soul and it’s still genuine.
“We’re already planning something special for the vinyl,” assures Hawthorne. “I’m really trying to out do myself this time around. I always think about the Gangstarr intro to ‘Moment of Truth’ -- ‘the style of beats is elevated / the rhyme style is elevated / but it’s still Guru and Premiere.’ It’s the same kind of thing. I played even more instruments on this record. I actually learned to sing a bit on this record. Everything is elevated, but it’s still that gritty soul and it’s still genuine.”
Business of Soul Making
“We always try to keep it classy out here. The motto is flashy, but classy always.”
“It was definitely sort of an accident. I moved out to LA to pursue a career in hip-hop production and deejaying. I started making some soul tracks in my bedroom for my own internal use for sampling purposes for making beats. I didn’t want to pay the sample clearance fees. Those tracks were never meant to be released to the public or sold. But God bless Peanut Butter Wolf. He had the vision and told me I had to make an entire album of doing that stuff. You never know what’s going to happen.”
“I got so much love for Detroit. I really care about the city and I do everything I can to help out and get us through this rough patch that we’re going through. I know we’re going to be back on top.”
“I always think about the Gangstarr ‘Moment of Truth’ intro where he is talking about, The style of beats is elevated. The rhyme style is elevated, but it’s still Guru & Premiere.” It’s the same kind of thing. The production is elevated. I played even more instruments on this record. My playing has improved. My vocals have definitely improved. I actually learned to sing a bit on this record. Everything is elevated, but it’s still that gritty soul. And it’s still genuine. Hopefully, everyone is feeling it.”
We’re already planning something really special for the vinyl. We’re going to try and out do ourselves.
Mayer Hawthorne & the County are hitting the road with Chromeo this fall and his second record, “How Do You Do,” is ou this October.
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