Mayer Hawthorne has spent the last few years building a name for himself as a soul musician whose songs hark back to the seventies' hot buttered jams from the likes of The O'Jays, Curtis Mayfield, and the godfather; Isaac Hayes.
But there is more to him than that, and he proves it in his latest project. Jaded Incorporated is a collaboration between him and childhood friend, hip-hop producer and former Athletic Mic League member 14KT. The Detroit, Michigan collective has released their debut album 'The Big Knock' and it's a cranking, robotic confluence of electro, rap, and soul. They call the resultant sound "beatwave" and acknowledge early movements such as ghetto tech and post-punk for being directly inspirational.
Album opener 'Black Future' sets the tone with its drone-like hum and its reference to "static reception near and far". But for the rest, it's danceable music and there are neither rules nor regulations governing how wild and crazy one can get upon hearing it.
The track 'Monster' sounds like it took a leaf out of the late J-Dilla's production pamphlet and is truly phat! (It is actually also the only song by an outside contributor.)
"I was just listening [to a J-Dilla beat-tape] one day and that beat came out... I said, 'Holy shit, that sounds like Jaded Inc!" giggled Mayer Hawthorne in an interview about how the song came to be on the project.
'Come Down' sounds like responsible rap music, if there ever was such a thing. The swinging hi-hats and multi-layered harmonies keep the soul in check; thick keys add to the song's sense of belonging: belonging somewhere, anywhere, and everywhere at the same time!
Every track here flows seamlessly into the next. Expect talk of kaleidoscopes and Gamma rays ('Coconut Sofa'); pleas to never be let go mixed with talk of retrograde amnesia ('Quantum Entanglement'); and dystopian banter about dark intersections in the wilderness ('Black Future').
The final knock-out is reserved for the album's penultimate soul-meets-soppy reflection on how people transform through time. 'People Change' is a melancholic recollection of a fading memory; a time-piece tracking events that influence our lives' paths.
The Big Knock is dangerous, like romance with radioactive creatures. But it's also really, really good!